If you haven’t seen Saturday’s Warrior, don’t. If you have, you know all about “Zero-Population.” Rather than learning about the Mormon tenet of “multiply and replenish” from a cheesy Mormon musical, how about using algebra?
Let ‘R’ equal average consumption per person.
Let ‘P’ equal the total population.
Let ‘C’ equal total capacity for consumption.
R x P < C
For those who understand numbers better than letters, let's say that we have 50 apples and 10 people. Using a little algebra and little division, we can conclude that each person gets an average of no more than 5 apples:
50 apples / 10 people > 5 apples per person
Taking this equation (or “inequality” to the math guru -but let's just call it an equation) to a global scale, we can multiply the average individual consumption by the total world population to find the total resources consumed. However ‘R x P’ must not be larger than ‘C’, because we cannot surpass the Earth’s capacity to sustain life.
The Restored Gospel teaches us about each term in the equation. We learn about ‘C’ from Doctrine and Covenants 104:17. This scripture teaches that the Earth has enough capacity ‘C’ for everyone:
"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves."
We learn about ‘P’ from (among other places) “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This document says that for now, we (at least the Latter-day Saints) are commanded to multiply and replenish (increase ‘P’):
“We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”
Considering that the Earth’s resources (‘C’) are "enough," but finite, and that population (‘P’) is to continue growing, the equation demands that our rate of consumption (‘R’) be limited. The gospel also demands that we limit our rate of consumption. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, referencing the Doctrine and Covenants 104:17 said this:
“The resources so necessary to sustain human life are so generously provided on this particular planet; unless they are mismanaged, we are told that there is ‘enough and to spare’.”
Using the language of the equation, we can restate Elder Maxwell’s statement in this way: ‘C’ is so generously provided on this planet, that unless ‘R’ is mismanaged, we are told that there is enough and to spare for all of ‘P’.
I am convinced that our current rate of consumption is taking a serious toll on God’s Earth. I pray we can all enjoy God’s creation, but not in excess (see Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20).