The Real Headline
There is much ado, and rightly, about Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling’s racially changed remarks. The coverage of the Putin-orchestrated takeover of Ukraine and the missing jetliner also blaze from the headlines. There are shootings in malls, once-again failing peace talks in the Middle East, the Repubs block another bill, Obama’s ratings rise and drop. Whatever! The pundits cry out with today’s outrage. Opinions are sought from experts and often angry speculation from opposing viewpoints is rife about possible outcomes. It’s a merry, shiny crisis factory.
But there is, in fact, a story that needs to be front and center in the flashing 24/7 cycle, yet it gets only a passing mention. Everyone wants to rail about the fleas, but the elephant is sitting in middle of the room and will soon break the walls down and let in the flood. The great masses really don’t want to talk about it. Give me Sportscenter and that tornado coverage. I am speaking not of Climate Change, as this is only a side product of the real problem. I am talking about overpopulation.
Since the discovery that fossil fuels can run machines we have been on a wild careering ride chasing “progress” (and its corollary sidekick money). Coal and oil can be burned to run engines that enable us to make things and move things in ways that could never happen in the first four million years of hominid development and the 10,000 years of “civilization”. Mechanization and modern medicine have changed humanity in essential ways: we now live longer, dig deeper, go faster, can kill better, and we have left our Mother Earth behind, relegating it to be merely a resource to be mined, plundered, emptied of species, and disregarded as anything that sustains us. In two hundred years we have used much of the oil that the earth took 400 million years to produce. In the course of running these industrial engines and Western- style civilization we have so polluted the air and the water that there is at this point only a desperate last chance to reverse the damage we have done and are doing.
What’s the glorious tradeoff? We have our cars, trucks, planes. We have hundreds of giant cities of more than ten million inhabitants powered by burning fossil fuels or radioactive materials that will not be safe for humans for tens of thousands of years. We have electricity! How else would we watch TV, talk on the phone, or send Facebook greetings? We have cars that have retractable mirrors and foot- activated liftgates, not to mention GPS and internet. Our food comes from sources we don’t even consider, grown using techniques of fertilization and genetic breeding that may well hasten the breakdown of the Earth itself. We are killing off the earth’s gifts: bees, fish, free animals, wilderness, the very water and air we live in.
Medicines have prolonged life far beyond what was once the norm. The population of the Earth was 200 million only two thousand years ago. In 1820, we reached a billion. Two hundred years later we are approaching 8 billion: 8 Billion people driven to have the internet, drive cars fast, and live more and more in megalopolises. Overpopulation is mindless and wild, relentlessly and heedlessly driven by “more’, not by “what?”. Studies of animal populations tell us that overpopulation leads to crashes through disease, madness, or self-destruction. The present course is unsustainable and will collapse. This is my children’s world, your children’s world.
The Dalai Lama said recently that we are too late. It’s hard to argue with him. In order to save humanity and our planet we must actually sweep away the 19th century models that drive us favor of a complete revamping of civilization. We need to move away from the mega cities and create sustainable small communities. We need to develop cheap, highly efficient solar power to give us the limited electricity we actually need. We need to ride bikes, use carts, and save larger vehicles for essential services. Technologies must be used to find solutions to the vast problems of feeding and housing people, not simply employed to embellish unbridled growth. Our phones are smart enough; we have to get smart ourselves.
We need to stop fighting wars and utilize common efforts to find answers to our problems in what is right in front of us. We absolutely must stop polluting the air and water; there is no other source of air and water! Eating of animals and fish must be greatly curbed, as the resources and energy it takes to bring the world a meat and fish diet are not sustainable. We have nearly depleted the fish stocks of the world’s oceans. It takes many times the energy and land to produce 8 oz. of meant than it does to bring rice and beans to the table.
The models we need for the future can already be found in civilizations present and past: village life, public gardens, public transport. We have to immediately stop breeding like rats. Religions need to direct their followers to nurture and protect the planet given to us by “God”, not beget more children to tithe.
I have previously written of my optimism about the mankind’s possible future. I have said that there are more people who are becoming conscious, and there are. However, this is a race against time, and time is running out on us. No action is being taken. The overwhelming majority of world governments are resistant to the ideas of change from the oil, coal, and money paradigms of the 19th century that still rule the world.
Steven Hawking gave us one thousand years to find a new planet. We don’t have anything like that long. Every doomsayer will have his own version of what will come to pass. My current favorite is not war, terrorism, or economic collapse. I see germs, common flu-like bugs that will emerge quite naturally from an overpopulated humanity and spread quickly, killing billions. Perhaps the remainder will try a different approach.
News outlets? This is your 24/7 story until people wise up. If we don’t wise up, Nature will wise us up, and soon.