Pandemics: An Inevitable Result Of Overpopulation
Since the beginning of 2020 COVID-19 has spread relentlessly around the globe, causing widespread fear and impacting, in one way or another, on the lives of almost all of its 7.8 billion inhabitants. With over 119 million infections and almost 2.7 million deaths at the time of writing, the human and economic costs are difficult to measure and certain to increase for some considerable time to come.
Our faith in modern medicine, along with mankind’s reluctance to address uncomfortable issues, means that memories are short when it comes to modern pandemics. COVID-19 is by no means the first and, with the world’s population continuing to grow exponentially, it is unlikely to be the last.
For many years, scientists and researchers have been in no doubt about the direct connection between overpopulation and the increasing likelihood of pandemics, both on a regional and global scale.
Richard Preston’s 1994 book The Hot Zone, a non-fiction thriller about the origins and effects of ebola, was listed by American scientists as among the 100 books that shaped a century of science. In it Preston wrote:
“The earth’s immune system, so to speak, has recognised the presence of the human species and is starting to kick in. The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by the human parasite.”
Despite advances in medical science, pandemics caused by zoonotic viruses (viruses transmitted from animals to humans) have quadrupled in the last 50 years. This trend correlates closely with population growth, as human and animal habitats come in closer proximity. A primary cause of this is widespread deforestation, which continues to destroy the natural habitat of countless species, forcing many of them to migrate to more urbanised areas.
Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of IPBES, the panel of UN experts on biodiversity, wrote that:
“Increased trends in land use change, combined with increased trends in trade, and global travels, are expected to increase the frequency of pandemics in future.”
The following are examples of other pandemics that have affected mankind in recent times.
From 1961 to the present day, there have been seven cholera pandemics around the world. This diarrheal disease, caused by consuming contaminated food or water containing the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, is still with us today. It continues to infect an estimated 1.3 million to 4 million people each year and results in up to 143,000 annual deaths.
Hong Kong Flu (H3N2)
Hong Kong flu emerged in 1968, when the ’N’ protein of Asian flu combined with a new ‘H’ protein from flu strains in birds. It is known to have killed at least 1 million people by the end of 1970, although estimates suggest that the number of deaths may have been as many as 4 million. Hong Kong flu is still in circulation today, but as a less harmful strain of seasonal flu.
It is believed that HIV most probably passed from chimpanzees to humans and that this transmission could have occurred decades before it emerged in the 1980s. The deadly immune-deficiency disease has caused over 30 million deaths and, although rates of infection have declined, it is estimated that around 38 million people are still living with AIDS. To date, there is still no vaccine available to prevent infection.
Swine Flu (H1N1)
As the name suggests, Swine Flu was initially believed to have originated in pigs (although this remains contested). A version of the H1N1 flu, but with a unique combination of genes, it was first detected in humans in 2009 and rapidly became a pandemic. Swine Flu killed around 575,000 people in the first year. It remains in circulation as a seasonal flu variant, but is now protected against by standard flu vaccines.
Ebola is a deadly disease transmitted from wild animals such as fruit bats, which are its natural hosts. The virus was originally identified in the 1970’s. Outbreaks were discovered near rainforests in Central Africa and those infected quickly spread it to others through fluid or tissue contact. The deadliest outbreak was in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, where almost 29,000 cases were recorded, resulting in over 11,300 deaths. Although Ebola victims can be treated with supportive drugs, there is no known cure. Fatality rates are almost 50%, with most victims dying from severe internal and external haemorrhaging.
“Pandemics are an inevitable consequence of overpopulation.” Yan Vana
The direct relationship between pandemics and human overpopulation has never been clearer. COVID-19 is simply the latest warning of how mankind’s continued expansion, its wanton destruction of the natural environment and its voracious consumption of the planet’s resources, comes at a heavy price. Illogically, it’s a warning that too many continue to ignore.
COVID-19 isn’t the first deadly pandemic and it certainly won’t be the last. And as the human population continues to spiral, through 8 billion and beyond, the outbreak of further (and potentially more deadly) viruses remains inevitable.
Submitted by Friends of Retha