written by John Waddington

For over one hundred years, evolution of organic creatures has been accepted as a fact. That over millions of years life has developed and improved from simple designs in the distant past, to the complex ones we see today. Most of us accept this without thinking much about it, assuming that we are the most complex and so the best. But the central feature of evolution is that a species population growth must exceed the carrying capacity of its environment, so the better-adapted (and sometimes luckier) ones survive and produce more offspring, and the less-well adapted die because of starvation, disease and war, and produce fewer offspring.  The overall result over time is an improved species.

For this process to work, there has to be a built-in desire in most of us to reproduce, so that there are more of us. Does this innate desire for more apply also in the social sphere? In politics? In business? In leisure activities? In family matters? I suggest that it does.

Consider the average family in Canada, size 2.9 individuals. Average house size has doubled since 1975 while the number of people per house has declined slightly. Why does a family want more house? Does more house also contain more gadgets, more and fancier kitchen, more living room full of large furniture, a double- or triple-vehicle garage for more vehicles with more variation in design? Along with more maintenance costs and more property taxes. More house is desirable with more family but there aren’t many of these. Is this more a matter of status? If we have more house and more contents are we more important? Or more valuable during reproduction?

How about our local city, Kelowna. Growing. Which makes our local city mayor and councillors happy. They encourage more city. Why? It requires more streets, more water supply, more sewage treatment plants, more garbage to dispose of, more displaced people, more criminals. Which requires more design and maintenance staff, more police, more taxes. But it makes them feel more important, more powerful, (and then think they need more salary). Are we looking at another aspect of reproductive success?

It seems to apply to businesses also. If you manage a bigger company it is obvious to yourself and your business associates that you are more important, more necessary. So it is essential to enlarge your company by buying up other companies even if you have to borrow the money to do it and even if the companies you are buying have different products and services. So we end up with these conglomerates. The managers claim of course greater efficiency, etc. But is it more efficient? Or just more power which leads to more genetic value for the managers in the reproduction race.

And provincially and nationally too. Canada’s population is steadily increasing. Not much by reproduction, but by importing people. Needed for the jobs the politicians claim are unfilled. We need young people to work and pay taxes so that we can support all the oldies. But as the oldies are healthier than in the past, why don’t they continue to work instead of having to bring in new folks to do the work? But perhaps the intent in bringing in young workers is really a desire to increase reproduction.

Religions? The leaders of the Catholic religion do not reproduce (well, they are not supposed to)  but spend their energy persuading (demanding?) their followers reproduce. Birth control not allowed. Moslems are about the same. Many leaders discourage birth control, suggesting that it is a plot of the U.S. government. Protestants are lower key but really not much different. All are trying to increase the numbers of their followers and so increase their importance and power. And their reproductive value.

It seems to me that these social aspects of more are all part of our inherent desire to reproduce and for us to demonstrate that each of us individually is more valuable to our population. The fact that in Canada we are on average producing less than the replacement numbers needed to sustain our population may not be a refutation of evolution, but a shift to produce better individuals rather than more. Which is an alternate way of improving the population rather than the old way of overpopulation and selection by starvation, disease and war. And bringing in more people lets us keep our option open also for the old tried and true method of improvement which has worked so well in the past. For the survivors.