Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to one and all. A few months ago, when I was preparing this talk, the world population stood at 7.8 billion. As of today, that number is nearly 8 billion.
To put this into perspective, from the time that I started this talk, about 60 people have been born. This statistic is a testament to the quote, “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function,” by Professor Albert Allen Bartlett.
Let us proceed by understanding what is meant by the term “population”. The simple definition of the population can be given as a distinct group of individuals that share a common characteristic and live in the same environment.
The study of the population plays a key role in educating the masses about an increasing population and its consequences. An evident example of this is its impact on resource management and the damage that we have caused the environment due to unethical practices.
Despite the immense number of opinions on the importance of population control, the only significant change is that now there are more people being vocal about the topic.
This has had no contribution towards solving the issue and only goes on to prove Professor Bartlett’s point. This population growth is also accompanied by various other events such as industrialization and modernization in society. However, when one speaks about the benefits of modernization, the tendency is to ignore the repercussions that follow.
This brings us to human psychology. This is an aspect that is not considered to be of significance when one speaks about modernization. Despite advancements in almost every field, psychology is an aspect that we are yet to comprehend.
Let’s face it, the human brain is too complex to be described by mere biological phenomena and statistics alone. It was this thought that ignited my curiosity and made me ponder upon the question, “Why has society not progressed as much as it should have, especially at this point in time?”
The answer to this inquest lies in the phenomenon of survival, more precisely competition for survival. An ideal illustration of this competition for survival can be found in the series of experiments conducted by ethologist John B. Calhoun, of which Universe 25 is the most distinguished one.
The experiment begins by placing two pairs of mice in an environment made abundant with every necessity. Over a period of time, it was noted that the population of the mice grew exponentially up to a certain level, after which a significant decrease was noted. It was also observed that the subsequent generations of mice displayed tendencies towards destructive behaviours and abnormal eating and sleeping habits.
It was this observation that led to the coining of the term “behavioural sink”. This experiment successfully highlighted the impact of unchecked population growth and its consequences on the psychology of an organism.
Arguments against this experiment point out that the outcomes noted were partially influenced by the primitive behaviour of the mice. Despite this, the fact that population density plays a significant role in societal functioning still holds true.
Let us take a moment to imagine this experimental framework in the real world. Like the mice, it would not take us long before we descended into chaos. This is where demographics save the day.
Demographics describe the characteristics of the population. It is paramount to the development of society as it plays a huge role in determining the quality of life that a society can provide for its people.
The information provided by the demographic analysis of a region gives us a new perspective on the socio-economic trends and the living conditions of the people.
Understanding demographics is also vital to the notion of a utopian society. A utopia is a society that possesses nearly perfect qualities for its members.
The first step towards achieving this goal is to understand the intricacies between population density and human psychology. The well-being of a person is a very important part of societal functioning. As seen in the experiment, a large number of inhabitants in a restricted space will tend to show a “behavioural sink”.
The best example of this is the increase in the number of crimes that take place in crowded metropolitan regions. These are mainly petty crimes that take place due to the lack of basic necessities.
Taking into consideration the present scenario, this dream of achieving a utopia seems to be near impossible. An ever-increasing population in this power-hungry world has led to the disruption of society and its paradigms. This is responsible for the behavioural sink that we see in our daily lives, and it acts as a catalyst for it.
The key towards achieving the utopian dream lies in successfully tackling this behavioural sink. This change begins with each one of us where we learn to empathize with others and inspire others to do the same.
Society still has time to mend its ways and embark on a journey towards a utopian future. In the wise words of Voltaire, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.