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Overpopulation & terrorism: rats in a cage

by John Omaha

Many people will find it difficult to compare human populations to rat populations. Many humans will suffer for that cognitive impairment. When a pair of reproductively competent rats are placed in a closed space and provided with sufficient food, they will reproduce and reproduce until the space is filled with rats. At a critical density, wars break out. Some rats, alpha males, claim territory and defend it. Others attack. Sound familiar? Only difference between rats and humans is the language-making capability of the human left brain. We humans give names to our territoriesó"World Trade Center" is one. The right brain, impelled by drives and emotions, is the fundamental force operating here. The left brain makes "reasons" for what the right brain is going to do anyway. Some of these "reasons" are: democracy, Islam, God, Allah, terrorist, Third World, globalization.

What we are seeing is the result of an exponentially increasing population. This is population biology at work. Anthropologists and population biologists studied all the wars in history for which adequate data were available. They learned that war breaks out when the percentage of the population consisting of single males in the age range 16-26 exceeds a certain fraction of the total population. Whatever Osama bin Laden may call it, whatever Al Fatah, or the PLO, or Jonas Savimbi, or Mexican President Fox, or the Australians who refuse to allow the Indonesian refugees into their country, whatever the East Timorese may call it, the Afghanis, the Pakistanisówhatever name is given is not correct; the correct name is overpopulation.

And this is just the beginning. World population stands at over 6 billion now. Projections differ on how high it will go. At one point it was projected to top out at 15 billion. Then it was reduced to 13 billion. The latest numbers I have seen are 9 billion. This will happen in the next 25 years. What happens after that? Mass die off. Itís a fact of population biology. Eventually the bacteria on the Petri dish use up all the resources and die. We live on a spherical Petri dish. Almost all the resourcesóremember that "living space" is a resourceóare used up. As groups led by alpha males come into unavoidable contact with each other, conflict erupts. Osama bin Laden is an alpha male. Yasser Arafat is an alpha male. The clerics of the Taliban are alpha males. God help us, our alpha male is George W. Bush. The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever was going on in Pennsylvania are conflicts between population segments assembled behind alpha males in an overpopulated, confined space, in which the segments are seeking to expand into territory that is resource rich compared to their own.

Unfortunately, all the players are thinking from inside the box. Bush tells us weíll find the terrorists and punish them. The terrorists are only the proximate problem. The terrorists are the vanguard of the real problem: the surplus billions of people on this spherical Petri dish. Only when the true problem is identified and addressed will we escape the inevitable fate of our speciesóa mass die off that will sometimes look like terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and will at other times look like AIDS and at other times like "ethnic cleansing" in Serbia.

Control of our specieís reproductive drive is the central survival issue our species must solve if Homo sapiens is to be a successful evolutionary experiment. Solving the issue will require the cooperation of all human beings. We are not doing very well.

John Omaha, Ph.D., is with Chemotion Institute: Treatment, Education & Research for the Ingestive Disorders P.O. Box 528 Chico, CA 95927 530-899-7719 E-mail:


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