Eve and the Fall
by Roger Martin

Roger was formerly Chair of the charity Population Matters. He addressed Friends at BYM at Bath in 2014

In ancient Africa, the Lord of Earth,
The Gaia, keeper of the sacred flame
Of life upon this favoured speck of dust,
Spoke to the ape-girl, Lucy, in a dream.

“You have done well. That brain is growing fast.
Time to become a human. Listen hard,
And tell the others, and the ones to come.

Throughout this Eden I have given you
You shall be matriarch of beasts undreamt.
They’ll live a life of eagles, always fed,
And see all things, and roam the earth and sky,
And read the seas and stars, and want for nought,
Provided that they follow this command.
Already you can feed of plants and flesh,
And only two fruits grow beyond your reach.
Both now I give you. But remember this:
You must eat both together, or else none.
The tree of Knowledge has the sweetest fruit;
The fruit of Wisdom’s bitter, green and hard.
But if you gorge upon the first alone,
Without the second fruit to balance it,
Your offspring shall be locusts in the spring.
They’ll breed, and swarm, and feed, till, numberless,
They’ve stripped the land of everything that grows,
And, Earth once made a desert, die in heaps.
That brain will free you from my disciplines
Of claw and dearth and sickness for a time.
Control your numbers only, now you can,
And Earth shall always be your Paradise.”

And Lucy, awe-struck, grunted in her sleep;
And half-awoke, and jabbered to her mate,
And told him all that lingered from the dream.
“We’ll eat the fruit of Knowledge, and we’ll live
Like eagles, and like locusts numberless.
The Earth is ours.”

And so the legend passed.
And so the Fall of Man, a few years on,
Took place exactly as the Lord had said.

Who is Lucy of the poem? Lucy is the name given to the best preserved fossil of Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974: see . Here she is:-

Image © Pat Kattenhorn

Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution

The Green Revolution, instigated by Norman Borlaug, is credited with having saved a billion people from starvation. However, in his Nobel lecture, given on receiving the Nobel Prize, he repeatedly drew attention to the need to limit population growth. The following quote echoes the foregoing poem, in that humanity accepted the benefits but ignored the warning.

The lecture was given on 11 Dec. 1970. Note that he states the world population to be 3.5 billion: since that date population has more than doubled to 7.8 billion.

“The green revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space. If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only.

“Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the “Population Monster”. In the beginning there were but two, Adam and Eve. When they appeared on this earth is still questionable. By the time of Christ, world population had probably reached 250 million. But between then and now, population has grown to 3.5 billion. Growth has been especially fast since the advent of modern medicine. If it continues to increase at the estimated present rate of two percent a year, the world population will reach 6.5 billion by the year 2000. Currently, with each second, or tick of the clock, about 2.2 additional people are added to the world population. The rhythm of increase will accelerate to 2.7, 3.3, and 4.0 for each tick of the clock by 1980, 1990, and 2000, respectively, unless man becomes more realistic and preoccupied about this impending doom. The ticktock of the clock will continually grow louder and more menacing each decade. Where will it all end?

“Malthus signalled the danger a century and a half ago…”



‘My Little House’

Norman Marsh of Birkenhead Meeting, writes, “The following poem, originally composed in the court of Nero in 1st century Rome, appeared in this translation in ‘Resurgence and Ecologist’ Magazine. I think it hits the spot for our modern concerns about excessive human growth.” 

My little house is shaded by an elm,
grapes in bunches hang from the branches.
There is an apple orchard, silver olive trees
with fruit-quiet boughs, and the black earth
rich with cabbage, mallow and poppies.
If I snare a quail, hunt a pig,
Hook a little creek trout,
That’s all the guile this land of mine
Will ever know. Go on,
Go live your massive frantic lives,
Always elsewhere, never now.
When death comes, looking,
Wondering how I did,
He’ll know where to find me.

‘Too Much of a Good Thing’
by Karen I. Shragg

Karen is the author of ‘Move Upstream, a Call to Solve Overpopulation’, (see ‘Books’), and is on the Board of Advisers of World Population Balance

Exploding human numbers
Billions of us
Spread thickly
Like too rich sauce
Over precious Mother Earth
How strange that at micro level
Each precious life
Such an obvious gift of love
And yet together multiplied
Into multitudes
A macro accumulation
On a bed of natural resources
Collapsing under the weight
Of too much of a good thing
Even those in the know
Cannot see the
Elephant in the living room and are doomed to wonder
Why the lamps keep crashing to the floor