I am a weird dude. I think about some weird shit and weird things worry and terrify me. I guess that's why I write horror. It lets me get out some of this weirdness and spread it around. Maybe get other people worrying about the same weird shit that worries me. Population Zero is one of those weird thoughts that goes through my head.
What if one individual decided to do his part to cure overpopulation, not through any grand gestures like chemical or biological warfare but just one life at a time? A human predator with a mission.
The idea for Population Zero probably began back when I was a kid watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and listening to Marlon Perkins talk about the ecological benefits of predation in nature. I remember watching wolves hunt deer and lions hunt buffalo as Marlon Perkins droned on in that sonorous monotone about how this was all a normal and neccessary part of nature and asking my mother why there had to be so much violence in nature. She explained to me that without the lion and the wolves to thin their ranks by preying on the weak, the old, and the sick, they would breed out of control and become a danger to the entire ecosystem. I then asked her who our predators were.I imagined the human population breeding out of control until we covered the entire globe in a blanket of humanity. My mother told me all about famine and disease and natural disasters to which I replied that animals had all of those things as well. "We also have each other" she said. "We have wars to keep our populations down." This satisfied me.
After that little discussion, I began following the number of wars the world was engaged in, the amount of natural and technological disasters and it just didn't add up. There were not enough wars or natural disasters to account for the high birth-rates and decreasing death-rates around the globe. We were living longer and having a lot of kids. Whenever I heard about a natural disaster or a war or an epidemic that killed a couple hundred thousand people I always thought, "That's not enough." When I watched a plane crash on TV while my mother and sister looked sad and shocked by the horror I would think, "A hundred people? That's not enough." Hearing about serial killers who murdered ten or twenty people never fazed me. Even guys like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and The Green River Killer who racked up body counts of thirty or more did little to faze me. What was thirty people when the population was increasing by more than 76 million people per year? Yeah, I was an odd and twisted kid, but who wasn't?
At age 19, I took my first flight to California. I remember looking down at that big sprawling metropolis of concrete, glass, and steel, asphalt and glass, and seeing how humans had so completely transformed the land paving over it, diverting water, blasting through mountains and leveling hills, murdering predators and hounding them into seclusion and extinction, mass-producing livestock, clearing trees for houses and farmland, spraying pesticides, exuding carbon-monoxide and exhaust from cars and factories into the air, making hundreds of miles completely uninhabitable. Uninhabitable by any species or organism other than mankind and those insects, vermin, and parasites that thrive off of our waste and those animals we choose to keep as pets. It was a terrifying sight to me. I imagined how we would feel if some other species, like the cockroach, had so completely transformed so much of the landscape. The very thought made me shutter. It still does.
My first year in California, I got involved in the Earth Day celebration in LA. I did a lot of research on man's impact on the environment and put together a spoken word performance based on the data I'd uncovered. I called it "Mass-Murderers for the Preservation of Animal Life". The most terrifying statistics I uncovered came courtesy of the Sierra Club. Statistics like the fact that it took more than six hundred thousand years for the planet's human population to reach one billion and in the two hundred years since that milestone the population had quintupled and was expected to double to 10 billion in as little as sixty years. Stats like 50,000 species of plant and animal life reaching extinction every year because of deforestation for housing, agriculture, roads, and industry. That number has now shrunk to 27,000 species and I would suspect that this has less to do with conservation efforts than that there are just fewer and fewer species left to destroy. That vision I'd had of how human technology had completely transformed the nation was but a small taste. 50% of the earth's landscape has been transformed by humanity, 30% of the earth's forests destroyed.
I stopped thinking about over-population mostly because the problem just seemed so huge. What was I going to do about it? Nothing. Not one damn thing. I wasn't going to refuse to have kids like the character in my book. I have three of them and I love each and every one of them but I support and provide for my kids. Not everyone does. Not everyone should be a parent. I wouldn't support a law like the one in China limiting each family to one child. Maybe I would. I don't know. I would support voluntary sterilization made free and easily accessible by the government. I'd support a voluntary sterilization campaign on the scale of the failed abstinence campaign of the Bush administration. And i support land, ocean, and animal preservation. Other than that, I just write books. Hopefully, someone will read them and come up with an acceptable answer to the questions they raise.
That's why I wrote Population Zero, my newest novella now available for pre-order from Cargo Cult Press. It is about a guy who is so terrified of overpopulation that he attempts to convince people to voluntarily sterilize themselves and those he can't convince he decides to sterilize anyway. Population Zero is about more than overpopulation however. It is about abortion, birth control, the welfare system, and animal rights. It is one of those stories that will have some people cheering and others cringing and many doing both simultaneously. But, love it or hate it, it will make you think.
Population Zero is available for pre-order at: