How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 William Rees
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
At the time of writing, the CoViD-19 pandemic was in its second wave with infections doubling every several days to two weeks in many parts of the world. Such geometric (or exponential) expansion is the hallmark of unconstrained population growth in all species ranging from submicroscopic viral particles through bacteria to whales and humans; this suggests a kind of ‘fractal geometry’ in bio-reproductive patterns. In nature, population outbreaks are invariably reversed by the onset of both endogenous and exogenous negative feedback – reduced fecundity, resource shortages, spatial competition, disease, etc., serve to restore the reference population to below carrying capacity, sometimes by dramatic collapse. H. sapiens is no exception – our species is nearing the peak of a fossil-fueled ~200 year plague-like population outbreak that is beginning to trigger serious manifestations of negative feedback, including climate change and CoViD-19 itself. The human population will decline dramatically; theoretically, we can choose between a chaotic collapse imposed by nature or international cooperation to plan a managed, equitable contraction of the human enterprise.
- Baggaley, K., 2017. Cryosleep may open the door to deep space: here’s how. Mach, NBC News [online] 12 June. Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/tech/cryosleep-may-be-key-deep-space-missions-here-s-how-ncna770961 [Accessed 12 November 2020].
- BP, 2020. Statistical review of world energy 2020. [pdf] London: British Petroleum. Available at: https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/pdfs/energy-economics/statistical-review/bp-stats-review-2020-fullreport.pdf [Accessed 10 November 2020].
- Catton, W.R., 1982. Overshoot – the ecological basis of revolutionary change. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
- Cho, R., 2020. Will the pandemic spell the end for oil and gas? State of the Planet, Earth Institute Columbia University [blog] 24 September. Available at: https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/09/24/pandemic-fatal-blow-oil-gas/ [Accessed 10 November 2020].
- CSIRO, 2020. Tracking Australia’s mice – case study. [online] Canberra: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Available at: https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Farming-food/Invasive-pests/Mouse-Census [Accessed 5 November 2020].
- GFN, 2020. Country trends (world). [online] Global Footprint Network. Available at: https://data.footprintnetwork.org/?_ga=2.210507157.1419130515.16052258961508465399.1522539523#/countryTrends?cn=5001&type=BCtot,EFCtot [Accessed 9 November 2020].
- IPBES, 2020. IPBES media release: pandemics report: escaping the ‘era of pandemics’. [online] Bonn: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Available at: https://ipbes.net/pandemics [Accessed 7 November 2020].
- McFall-Johnsen, M. and Mosher, D., 2020. Elon Musk says he plans to send 1 million people to Mars by 2050 by launching 3 Starship rockets every day and creating ‘a lot of jobs’ on the red planet. Business Insider. [online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-plans-1-million-people-to-marsby-2050-2020-1 [Accessed 12 November 2020].
- Moore, J. and Rees, W.E., 2013. Getting to one planet living. In: L. Starke, ed. 2013. State of the world 2013 – is sustainability still possible? Washington: Island Press. pp.39-50.
- Njagi, D., 2020. The biblical locust plagues of 2020. BBC Future Planet – Africa. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200806-thebiblical-east-african-locust-plagues-of-2020#:~:text=Desert%20locusts%2C%20or%20Schistocerca%20gregaria,increase%20and%20they%20become%20crowded.&text=When%20swarms%20affect%20several%20countries,is%20known%20as%20a%20plague [Accessed 9 November 2020].
- Nunes-Vaz, R., 2020. Visualising the doubling time of COVID-19 allows comparison of the success of containment measures. Global Biosecurity, 1(3). [online] Available at: https://www.jglobalbiosecurity.com/articles/10.31646/gbio.61/ [Accessed 16 November 2020].
- Rees, W.E., 2020. Ecological economics for humanity’s plague phase. Ecological Economics, 169(106519). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.106519
- Roser, M., 2018. Economic Growth. [online] Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/economic-growth [Accessed 10 November 2020].
- Roser, M., 2019. Future population growth. [online] Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/future-population-growth#global-population-growth [Accessed 6 November 2020].
- Scheffer, V.B., 1951. The rise and fall of a reindeer herd. Scientific Monthly, 73(6) pp.356-362.
- Solon, O., 2018. Elon Musk: we must colonise Mars to preserve our species in a third world war. The Guardian [online] 11 March. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/11/elon-musk-colonise-mars-thirdworld-war [Accessed12 November 2020].
- UN, 2019. 12 – Responsible production and consumption. [online] Available at: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/goal-12/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CMaterial%20footprint%E2%80%9D%20refers%20to%20the,to%20meet%20final%20consumption%20demands.&text=The%20global%20material%20footprint%20rose,113%20per%20cent%20since%201990 [Accessed 12 November 2020].
- Woolaston, K. and Fisher, J. L., 2020. UN report says up to 850,000 animal viruses could be caught by humans, unless we protect nature. The Conversation. [online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/un-report-says-up-to-850-000-animalviruses-could-be-caught-by-humans-unless-we-protect-nature-148911 [Accessed 7 November 2020].