Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Cautionary Tale?

As I wait for it to get closer to time to get ready for New Year's festivities, I'm sitting here watching TV. As I scanned through the online "what's on" guide, I saw that National Geographic TV was running one of their Aftermath shows.

The series, as a whole, is based on some fairly far-fetched premises. However, those premises were, previously, ones that conceivably have the capability of having a "life goes on" outcome. The episode that's on,now, Population Explosion, doesn't really fit that mold. It has as its premise that (somehow) the earth's population has somehow managed to double overnight.

Yeah, I get that this is supposed to be a cautionary tale for our future that collapses the time-frame of whats to come as the Earth's population doubles on a more natural time-scale. However, doubling over a course of decades versus over the course of a day (or even months) results in a completely different set of stressors and outcomes. Population is an inherently self-limiting problem. Explosive population growth is even more self-limiting. I'm not seeing on this episode that people have somehow become immortal, so a lot of the problems they're positing seem unlikely. Long before we'd have to worry about creating new housing, beefing up infrastructure and finding more farmlands, energy and other resources, people would have already started to die, on a massive scale, from lack of food and environmental exposure. Let's face it: if you doubled the human population, overnight, and even had double the farmland (and seed-stock) available to plant new crops on, those crops aren't going to come online for a month or more - billions will have starved before then. Along with them starving (and running out of water), your doubled need for housing is going to disappear.

Oh well.. I guess National Geographic had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for this one. Seriously, this one borders on the mind-bendingly stupid. Would that doubled population still exist three (or more) years from the doubling-event? Don't think so. I have my doubts that, post doubling, we'd even have our current levels of populations surviving over the course of even half a year, let alone ofter three. The damage and deprivation caused by that doubling would be severe. Not only would all of the new population not survive, but a significant chunk of the incumbent population would die along with them.

Sorry, National Geographic, but gonna have to give you a big, fat "F" for this bit of shoddy programming. This is even worse than the A&E's Ancient Aliens shows.

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