Collision Course

I suggested in a response I made to a comment on a previous post that humanity is most assuredly on a collision course between global warming, on the one hand, and the expanding human population, on the other hand. The irony of ironies is that the growing human population seems to be, for the most part, oblivious to both of these problems! Perhaps it is denial on a grand scale? To be sure, most of us would prefer to ignore unpleasant facts. But be that as it may, the two opposing forces cannot possibly survive together. Something must give.

As long as we continue to think it is better to drive our gas-guzzlers and turn up the thermostat rather than ride a bike, drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, or put on a sweater when we are cold — while at the same time we embrace the notion that large families are preferable to small — we cannot avoid the collision of which I write. And exacerbating the situation is the persistent conviction on the part of a great many people, including many in Congress, that there are no problems we cannot solve with our technical expertise. This is, of course, patently absurd. To begin with, our faith in the abilities of our fellow humans is unwarranted in light of the fact that we also regard education as a low national priority. Where are the folks coming from who will solve our technical problems? Seriously, though, are we foolish enough to think there are no problems even the brightest among us cannot solve?

Global warming will surely bring about shortages of food and the water that an expanding population requires in order to survive. If we continue to ignore this problem there will be growing numbers of people who cannot afford the rising prices of food and the water which will become increasingly rare and precious. As a result, we can expect violence among those who cannot feed themselves and those who can afford black market prices for dwindling supplies of essentials. Prior to that taking place, I would predict, governments will become more repressive and those liberties we take so much for granted will be denied us as a growing centralized power seeks to ward off the violence that is likely to take place when food and water become scarce. That way lies tyranny.

It doesn’t help things that we have a sitting president and Congress determined to ignore these problems while many nations around the globe are becoming more and more accepting of the fact that if we are to survive we must make sacrifices. Things cannot go on as they are now without the collision of which I write taking place. And to this point our country prefers to officially deny the problem while continuing to refuse to cooperate with other nations that are taking steps to confront the problem of global warming, if not overpopulation.

I am fully aware that this post will be found unpalatable by some (most?) of the readers of my blog — whose numbers seem to shrink as a result of my determination to “tell it like it is,” perhaps. But the number of readers was never very large in the first place and I do think it is better to face the truth than to dismiss it, or cast it aside as a bundle of “false facts” — an oxymoron of the first order, and one which reflects an attitude of mind that will never undertake the difficult task of addressing real facts and seeking workable solutions. I do believe the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates told us long ago — despite the fact that so many people seem to prefer it. But then, as I said above, most of us would prefer to ignore unpleasant facts.

However, there are facts that we simply must face if we are to survive on this planet. And the first thing we must do is to admit that global warming is a problem of the first order, and it must be addressed — and soon. We might be able to survive the expanding human population if we are able to grow sufficient food in the oceans; if new diseases continue to emerge that we cannot cure; or if there are global cataclysms that eradicate a great many people. But with things as they now stand the forces that simmer below the surface at this moment will surely boil up at some point in the future and collide.





23 thoughts on “Collision Course

  1. Where to begin, my friend? Just in the last couple of weeks I have realized my own hypocrisy, for while I write scathingly of those who deny the effects of climate change and damage to our environment, I made note in just a 3-day period of how much plastic we unwittingly, unthinkingly toss in the trash! Plastic water bottles, plastic grocery bags, plastic food wrappers, produce bags, empty cleaning product containers … all plastic that cannot be broken down and releases harmful chemicals into the soil that seep into food sources and drinking water. And that is just the beginning! How often do I stand in the shower an extra few minutes simply to enjoy the warmth? Or leave the kitchen faucet running while I tidy the kitchen? Or preheat the oven for 15 minutes longer than needed? If I am this bad, imagine those who have made the conscious decision to deny that the environment is in serious need of attention!

    A few days ago, in a Facebook chat with a friend, I mentioned some of these things, to which he replied, “Eh, we’ve been throwing away plastic for years now and nothing bad has happened.” Sigh. Sadly, this is the attitude of many.

    I could argue that Donald Trump and Brexit are both an indirect result of climate change, for the shrinkage of arable land and potable water in the Middle East played a role in the Arab Spring movement, which created the refugee crisis, which is primarily responsible for the populist movement on which Trump rode into the Oval Office. And that played a large role in Brexit. But the deniers will deny all of that, go on about their happy little lives. Sigh.

    Good post, Hugh. I shall share. Thank you!

    • Brilliant insight! I had never thought of Trump and Brexit as a RESULT of climate change. But it makes perfect sense! And I don’t think any of us does as much as we can to save this planet. In becoming aware of that we knuckle down and try to do more. No?

    • Hi Hugh and Jill,

      I agree that the ever-burgeoning population is the crux and bottleneck.

      Since the human species has not (always, adequately and/or consistently) been a good custodian of the environment and the Earth (not to mention countless wars, atrocities, resource depletions, species extinctions, environmental degradations and so on, plus an area of rainforest as big as 100,000 football courts is being cleared or destroyed everyday), there is no assurance that once the human species migrates to another planet, the same problems would not again surface and plague us, perhaps at an even quickening and/or devastating pace as a result of better and greater expansion, production and technology. We would indeed export our baggage and problems to other worlds!

      A friend of mine wrote to me:

      I think if we went to Mars, we’d deal to it the same way we’re currently dealing to Earth. Richard Attenborough summed it up when he referred to us as the ‘scourge’ of the planet. Caused an outcry, but it seems to be true. Jared Diamond has published a good analysis of it, if a little deterministic for my liking. The reason would seem to be a faulty survival mechanism – hard-wired techniques for maximising resources that worked when we were on the ragged edge of extinction in the ice age, but now serve to create problems.

      Perhaps we could also liken humans as cancer cells on the petri dish that is Earth.

      Extinction is a euphemism for extermination, considering how many and the manner in which members of many endangered species have met their fate and untimely end.

      99% of all species that ever appear on Earth are already extinct since life began.

      The average lifespan of a species is one million years. The human species (counting the early hominids) has lasted six million years. Extinction is the rule; survival is the exception.

      Even if humanity were to survive and later conquer other planets, there will be no guarantee that humanity will not repeat its mistakes and export its problems to other extra-terrestrial worlds.

      Personally, I do not use any hot water at all, not even in the dead of winter, the coldest time of the year.

      As for plastics, I create the space at home to store them and give them a second or third use, and seldom just throw them away in the rubbish bin, not even just directly into the recycle bin.

      I also travel as little as I can to cut down my ecological footprints.

      As I mentioned, we are already in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction. If you are interested, the main issue is twofold: speciesism and anthropocentricism. Until we critically deal with the main issue, even environmentalism in all its diversity may not suffice to turn things around, as discussed in my multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary post entitled “SoundEagle in Debating Animal Artistry and Musicality” at, which is simultaneously witty and serious about a number of outstanding issues.

      The said post actually ventures far beyond whatever its title may suggest or mean to any reader, especially in the very long “Conclusions” section. Please note the ISEA Model that I have devised to analyse and describe the Instrumental, Spiritual, Pro-Environment and Pro-Animal/Plant perspectives.

      Jill, I am still waiting for you to read the said post, as you promised me more than two weeks ago that you definitely will, though I am slowly coming to realize that you may not read it at all, considering that you have already had the time to publish numerous posts since more than a fortnight ago, and have read, commented and respond to numerous posts of your own and others.

      I understand your lack of time. I would like to inform you that I too have been so occupied that I have not had time to publish even a single post for more than a year, even though I do make time to read and comment on others’ posts as much as I can.

      I invite you to read this particular post as I perceive you to be particularly intelligent, well-rounded and fair-minded, and that the said post describes and encapsulates many of the most entrenched and far-reaching issues concerning humanity as well as our day-to-day living. Should you ever decide to visit and read the post, you can be completely certain that it is no ordinary post at all in so many ways.

      The next post that I publish will deal with various outstanding matters regarding human affairs and the pressing environmental crises.

      • You are definitely miles ahead of me in your contributions to saving energy and a cleaner environment, but I simply have to ask one question: You say you use no hot water at all … ever??? I have stopped doing laundry in hot water, but for cleaning dishes and taking a shower … I cannot imagine not using hot water. How do you stand a cold shower??? My hat is off to you, but this is one that I don’t think I can follow your example.

        I apologize … I did make you a promise and have not yet kept it. I do spend 10-12 hours a day on my writing (in addition to this blog, I publish regularly in two online publications and have started writing a book), and have been experiencing some health issues, but that does not absolve me of guilt. We all set priorities, and mine may not always be in line with others, however a promise is a promise, and I have been negligent. I will hasten over there tonight or else first thing in the morning. I also look forward to your next post … thank you!

      • Hi Jill,

        Yes, I have not been using hot water for years. There are some scientific studies that point to the benefits of taking cold showers or baths. For those who are more sensitive to cold, it may be easier to take a cold shower or bath after exercising.

        As for washing laundries, yes, “cold power” can indeed do the trick. I use a front-loading washing machine as it also saves more energy and water, and provides more room, not to mention that the top of the washing machine can function as a flat surface. I also air-dry clothes and washings, and never use the dryer.

        There is no need to use hot water for washing dishes. Those dishes with sticky or hard bits can be pre-soaked before washing. Really greasy parts or oily bits on those dishes can always be scraped off first before being washed with a diluted dish detergent.

        I also sweep the floor (and even carpets) rather than vacuum so as to save electricity and to provide myself some physical exertion.

        When I work, read or type in front of a computer, I stand, not sit.

        I look forward to your feedback (and critique) on the said post soon. Thank you in anticipation.

      • There have been scientific studies showing that sitting can often be very detrimental to health (in certain cases, as bad as smoking). The recommendation from many health experts is to stand rather than sit, or at least a combination of both.

        I shall continue to stand and salute, Jill!

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Our friend Hugh’s post tonight is spot on … not a post that’s going to make you chuckle and hum a happy tune, but certainly one with a message that we all need to hear … again and again … until we wake up. Thank you Hugh, for the reminder, and for giving me carte blanche to share your work.

  3. Hugh, well said, professor. As we hire in number it exacerbates our existing and growing problems. Fresh water availability remains the greatest risk we face. It is made worse by climate change.

    Feeding people is yet another challenge that is exacerbated by both the water and climate change impacts. The movie “Interstellar,” was science fiction, but it’s premise was scary. The earth was losing the ability to support crops. That one focus at the beginning is very believable.

    We must act. People in positions of leadership must lead or get out of the way. Looking back at this period years from now, this will be the greatest failing of this President, among a list of several.


  4. Wait. It’s worse than that. Population growth, technological advances, and global warming are very interrelated. Or intercorrelated. It’s technology in agriculture that allowed the population to mushroom the past hundred fifty years. And created this new urban quagmire.. Of course more people more cars. More mouths to feed. More energy needed. Global warming will greatly reduce arable land worldwide..Of course we need to conserve energy and resources now before it’s too late if we hope to slow or reduc the warming.

  5. Dear Hugh,

    Thanks for this timely post. Keep telling it like it is. Both these issues of increasing populations and the worsening of climate conditions should be considered top national security risks that we should be making plans to mitigate. Our US military should be making contingency plans.

    The current politicians in power are intent in continuing to ignore these very real problems but, hopefully they’ll be past history, soon to where we can begin to address these issues in a serious, deliberative manner.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Actually, I have heard the military is making contingency plans to deal with climate disasters. And, of course, the insurance companies have raised their rates in order to be able to cover future disasters. But those in Congress continue to turn a blind eye.

  6. My beloved Aunt |Lulu sometimes stated, ‘The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get,’ and I seem to walk in her footsteps these days. On line time gets less and less.

    There are times when one needs to ‘carry a big stick’ and start swinging – to awaken others. Thank you for what you’re doing. This and your most recent post are ‘loaded’ to read more carefully / with total attention – when at home.

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