Who knows if hu­man­ity will ad­just?

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re­gard­ing the June 27 Health & Sci­ence ar­ti­cle “In rat re­search, a warn­ing for hu­man so­ci­ety”:

John B. Cal­houn’s ex­per­i­men­tal ro­dent colonies were pro­vi­sioned; the in­hab­i­tants could feed ad li­bi­tum. In nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments, a species that breeds un­con­trol­lably will ex­haust habi­tat re­sources and per­ish. In­stead, what we see are mech­a­nisms of pop­u­la­tion self-reg­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing ter­ri­to­ri­al­ity, re­stric­tion of breed­ing rights through dom­i­nance hi­er­ar­chies, steril­ity of lac­tat­ing fe­males, use of de­lim­ited ar­eas for courtship and nest­ing, etc. Some of th­ese mech­a­nisms also se­lect for fit­ness, which may be how they evolved, but their role in pop­u­la­tion self-reg­u­la­tion is ev­i­dent.

It re­mains to be seen whether hu­man­ity ad­justs its num­bers to Earth’s re­sources. Given to­day’s lev­els of star­va­tion, war, pol­lu­tion, etc., Cal­houn’s op­ti­mism may be un­war­ranted.

Richard M. Ti­tus, Alexan­dria

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