We humans are clearly overrunning the planet, but few understand or will face what is happening. As population hits an all-time peak later this century, life on the planet will get much tougher and there will be no simple answers to the problems that will arise or simply increase in severity. While it is hard to see ahead with any detail, past experience says there will never be a single crisis that challenges humanity like overpopulation does (barring an asteroid impact, a global volcanic surprise, or the sun doing something unexpected). This is because human nature drives us to want to live better and have more children. Can we successfully change ourselves to have less offspring and live more sustainably? Continue reading
Category Archives: sustainability
People all over the world want economic growth, believing it will make them better off, and who can blame them? But how much bigger can we grow before our global systems begin to come apart at the seams? Continue reading
The adoption of digital communications technology keeps accelerating, but brings risk. The crash phase of the global population explosion may not start with food shortages, global pandemic, or world war, but with a widespread shutdown of the internet. The disruption to our shipping, energy, and food systems would be catastrophic. But isn’t the internet too resilient from its diversity, complexity, and vast extent to be at risk of a global shutdown? How might this come about? Continue reading
(reposted from my rant blog – Tim)
I just read an article purporting to give the reason young people in the United States are having fewer children than they used to and, while the arguments they give are reasonable and probably correct, they completely missed an important reason that I have heard some young people give: they don’t want to have kids who will inevitably suffer the disastrous consequences of the population explosion. While this motivation may not be shared by the majority (yet), the number who understand human civilization’s greatest challenge ever is growing. To me that suggests there is hope, as people need to be working on curbing population growth now, and that perhaps at least some of the worst predictions will be avoided or mitigated to have less damaging effects. It’s only a small glimmer, and it still seems that our economic systems (like our reproductive ones) are aimed directly at creating disasters of global scale, but any hope at this point is more than welcome. Please work against the population explosion by supporting family planning and economic aid to the poor, both inside the United States and worldwide. If we don’t drastically reduce human birthrates our grandchildren will see energy and food become un-affordable or unavailable, among other possibly-worse things.
Thanks for reading. — Tim
“We have met the enemy and he is us.” That famous quote I first read in Walt Kelly‘s great 20th century cartoon strip Pogo has stayed with me ever since. I have come to realize that, if we are to minimize the suffering from the convergence of the population explosion and the exhaustion of fossil fuels, it will require an effort such as my parents experienced in World War II, involving government-enforced rationing, “victory gardens” for every household, people working together and living together in poorer conditions than their forebears, and businesses forgoing profit until the “war” is over. This will not be easy to achieve, however, for reasons I will discuss. Continue reading
All my life, growing up in the capitalist United States economy, the success of the system has depended on growth. This is widely recognized, and growth is often invoked as a remedy for economic problems. “Growth ” has become a business (and, by extension, government) mantra – the panacea for all our ills. Unfortunately, this makes no sense at a very fundamental level. How big will we grow and how much resources will we devour reaching the point where population is completely unsustainable, and famine and disease roam the world killing millions? Can we stop worshipping growth now?
An excellent article recently appeared at Spiegel Online International titled “The Warming World: Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?” and I highly recommend reading it through to the end. In it the authors give in-depth information on the current status of the global climate, relating it back to human activity and national and international politics. (Millions of tons of CO2 going into the atmosphere every day has to have an impact, sooner or later.) The politics of various key nations and the negotiations at past climate conferences are described, and a lot of the latest climate science is brought forth. The topic is a bit frightening but of such critical importance to us that, really, every adult should have to read this article (whether they believe it or not).
Then, better informed, we need to take action, vote for politicians who are deserving, and “clean up our acts” by making many changes in our selves, our decisions, and our lifestyles in order to preserve a reasonably habitable world for our kids. The trouble is … it might already be too late.
Thanks for reading — Tim