The Ratio of Life

Science published a recent study that shows the predator-prey ratio to be steady over ecosystems. What this means is that there are fewer predators than prey in exactly the same proportion throughout most ecosystems. This mathematical function indicates how many predators any ecosystem can support. An ecosystem will deviate from this when it is in distress. This is a stunning and robust finding that leads me to ask, why should we not apply this to humans as well, so we can learn how many people our planet can support, as well as how many people can be supported by particular regions? In this way, we can learn how far we have deviated from a sustainable population level.

Most people, I am sure, would consider this suggestion to be monstrous, because people consider themselves above nature and not subject to such impersonal scientific rules. People seem to believe that reproductive self-determination is a sacred right, and would find such a policy impossible to even consider, much less follow. Nevertheless, our population has reached an unprecedented level and decisive action must be taken. When we expand our numbers to the point where we finally run out of food and potable water, it will be far worse than losing our imagined right of reproductive self-determination. People are not above nature, but are part of it, and we should strive to live in harmony with Her.

Simply lowering the birth rate would provide the reduction in numbers we need, but perhaps not soon enough. It is sad that, although we have known the environment was in distress for some time, we have not had the moral vision to act on this knowledge. Let us hope that we are not so far over our limit that we will suffer catastrophic consequences before we can return our numbers to a sustainable level.

Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.


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