Thursday, July 16, 2015

Us, the Living

The Vornado makes repopulation a SNAP!
A friend posited the following question:

In the event of massive population my case nearly 5.5 billion dead from alien do you approach the topic of mandatory re-population without tyrannical oppression? Can it be done WITHOUT tyrannical oppression? At the very least, would abortions become illegal...not from a moral standpoint but simply from a survival of the species point of view?

Yeah, an interesting question to consider.  This came up during the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot run, where humanity was reduced from billions to just a couple tens of thousand (varying around 50,298 down to 39,406).  The forum I was a part of at the time looked at how many individuals would be required to actually keep the species going.  You need a genetic pool of particular size to make certain your population doesn’t suffer an unforeseen, ill-effects from such close genetic family lines—haplotypes.  This site claims you can do it with just 160 humans BUT that’s stated as the bare minimum needed for the best result taking into account the potential genetic haplotypes.

Obviously, a larger genetic pool is better.

Hugh Howey approached the question in his Wool series from the opposite end of the spectrum, where reproduction had to be carefully controlled to avoid over-population.  This was done through automatic birth control implants in women, laws against pregnancy and even sex outside of an approved union.  Clearly, the Silo folk believed that no form of birth control was 100% effective, and covered all their bases.

Death by exile was the only punishment.

We're gonna need a bigger genetic pool.
With a large enough population, as posited in the question, you wouldn’t need to worry about mandatory pregnancy.  Natural inclination among a billion people or so will take care of repopulation all on its own.  Under the stress of annihilation, however, and to avoid tyranny/dictatorship (if such a thing is possible), a program should be multi-faceted for the greatest success.  Remove/diminish the concept of the individual’s wants/needs in favor of survival of the group/species as a whole.  Us v. Them will certainly assist this, although long term repercussions of all out xenophobia may make any potential peace tricky at best.  Peer pressure can be an impressively strong motivator, so grass-roots campaigns with key citizens expressing the need to reproduce are necessary.  Utilize other channels, such as religion (God says you should have babies) and nationalism/patriotism (your country/species NEEDS you to have babies).  Provide incentives—pregnant couples get special considerations, privileges, etc., reduced work load or even vacation.  On the other end, establish “punishments” for not having children, or at least trying—you HAVE to join the military and fight, or contribute in some other way directly to the military, increased work load, etc.

Not exactly what Socrates had in mind.
At the very least, reproductive pairings would be strongly encouraged, bordering on required.  This could run the spectrum from propaganda to get married and have children, all the way to government-mandated partnerships, and/or genetic profiling to find the most viable and desirable offspring.  It can get pretty crazy from that point onward, depending on the technological sophistication of the culture—see Heinlein’s excellent “Beyond This Horizon” for more on that potential.  Alternately, read Plato's Republic which goes into some interesting detail on exactly how reproduction, child-rearing and government should all work together for the best benefit of the state.

I’m sure there are more that I haven’t thought about, but under the threat of full destruction by an outside force, I can’t really see the cause going any other way than “total war” under a military leader.  If we refer back to “Battlestar Galactica” then we might see a military supported by a civilian council, but ultimately such a consideration as population maintenance and increase would be a matter of military policy.  This full question was only scratched on “Battlestar Galactica” and it’s something that I would have liked them to have done more than pay passing lip service too, but that’s an old issue for a show that had an excellent run.

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