When most people think of an animal being successful in its habitat, they would likely gauge that success by the number of offspring it has. When the single cheetah in Africa’s wild Savannah can’t seem to raise her cubs because there is a lack of resources, she is likely to be deemed a failure. Whether the reasons for her failure are any various number of environmental factors is immaterial. And when the majority of litters in a given area prosper and the cubs are raised to be strong, successful hunters, her species is considered to be successful and doing ‘well’.
And so one can extrapolate to the human race and conclude that we are the most successful species on the planet.
What let us get to such enormous numbers? Mainly the advent of agriculture. We were simply able to feed more people with less space.
But what did that do to us as people? Humans using the agricultural method were able to sustain a higher rate of population growth. They began to geometrically reproduce, cover the world and take over areas where more naturally living tribes existed. A fun fact here is that because agriculturally sustained peoples live in closer quarters with many more people, disease is more easily evolved. So when these peoples go exploring, they always tend to give their diseases (to which they’ve grown semi-accustomed) to the indigenous… which in Jared Diamond’s research shows is thought to have been responsible for the deaths of around 90% for the native american population.
In any case, what I’m arguing is that the proliferation of the number of humans around the globe is not indicative of success.
We have simply found a way to provide a feeding trough for our species. No other species on earth lives in such a way that is so far off from its naturally evolved ways. We evolved to live in small tribes of 50-150 people where each member knew every other. The religion and culture that allows cities to thrive puts us so far from what humans are naturally meant to be like. And you wonder why with the ever increasing wealth of developed countries, that we are no more happy than at previous levels of wealth and the most medicated populace ever.
Our population numbers are not indicative of our success.
Success should be measured by how happy and content we are on a daily basis. And when I look around at all the sad faces that feel like they have to drag themselves to the office each day or trudge through their unhappy marriage or get divorced, I don’t see peace and happiness in the general populace.