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.





Family Planning

It has always astonished me that people fail to realize the connection between the lack of family planning and the destruction humans are doing to the planet. In fact, as I have said in a previous blog, the exploding human population is almost certainly responsible for many (most?) of the problems we confront as we attempt to survive on this planet. And yet, we continue to ignore the problem because in the minds of many “family planning” equates to “abortion.” This is absurd.

Consider the effect expanding human populations have on the environment, as reported in a recent issue of the Sierra Club magazine.  The number of humans increases by about 220,000 per day.  We hit the 7 billion mark last October, as noted in an earlier blog. Humans emit 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. At the present rate of human expansion, that output of carbon dioxide will double by 2062, pushing our planet beyond the 560 parts-per-million threshold — which is when the Greenland ice sheet will cave in.

There are, of course things we can do to control human population which do not involve the dreaded “A” word that makes discussion of the problem well-nigh impossible. We can support world-wide efforts to get contraceptives into the hands of women who want them but are unable to get them as things now stand — estimated to be about 215 million women world-wide. We can support efforts to increase literacy around the world so more people understand what expanding human populations mean to the survival of the planet. Literate women tend to have smaller families and drastically decreased infant-mortality rates. Literate women also have increased access to economic opportunities and are less likely to bear children before they can afford to support them. We can support sex information programs (misnamed “sex education” in this country), which will help reduce teen pregnancy, among other benefits. We can help support gender equity efforts which would increase women’s decision-making power which is essential to slowing human population growth.

There are also steps we can take that have nothing whatever to do with family planning but will also help reduce our “carbon footprint” on this planet. These things are fairly obvious, but largely ignored in our pursuit of fun and profit. We can replace oil and gas with renewables; cut our power usage by turning down the thermostat in the Winter and up in the Summer; run our cars on hydrogen — or at least buy the most fuel-efficient cars available that we can afford; we can displace coal with solar and wind energy, so-called “clean energy”; farmers can practice conservation tillage, which has already expanded to 35% of the farms in this country; and we can stop deforestation which removes trees from the earth which are essential in providing the world with oxygen.

Needless to say, these steps require some sort of sacrifice on our part and humans have not shown much of a desire in recent history to deny themselves anything. But the alternative is clear: if we continue on our present course, we will destroy the earth on which our lives depend.