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
Tag Archives: sustainable living
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
Religion typically requires faith, the suspension of disbelief and reason, an extreme gullibility, if only temporary. My worry is that many religious people don’t return to reason. Such people can be very difficult to deal with. Some of them are fanatics, or are evolved into fanatics by clever manipulation. Isn’t reason essential to our survival? Continue reading
I just read an article on the Empowerhouse, a Habitat for Humanity project in Washington DC that may show the way to the kind of housing that we need now and will need in the future. This house has a greater potential than any I’ve ever heard of to use zero externally delivered energy and still be affordable. If it is durable enough to last at least as long as ordinary homes it represents the kind of hope we need for a future when the fossil fuel we use so much of now will cost perhaps ten or twenty times as much as it does today. And here I’d been wishing for solar shingles for the last decade or so and yet not seeing them anywhere. The Empowerhouse doesn’t solve all our problems – many existing home will need to be retrofitted and moved closer to self-sufficiency – but I hope it will drive more innovation and reduce the sense of hopelessness many people feel when they consider the future of overpopulation and the exhaustion of fossil fuels.
As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading — Tim
Most of us have had to deal with a plugged drain at some point. I have coped with many as a homeowner. What do you do when that shower or sink drain starts running slower and slower? Typically I end up at the store buying a bottle of chemicals which I can pour down the drain, wait a while (in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions) and then follow with the hottest water possible. This technique tends to work, but I think about the drains of 9 billion people being cleared this way, and the consequences of the use of valuable resources and the cost of cleaning the waste water of those nasty chemicals. (See a mathematical “thought tool” at the end of this article.) So what can I do differently, and how might we remedy the common clogged drain in the future? Continue reading
A number of studies described in a recent NPR article agree that slightly over 70,000 years ago, after a supervolcano eruption much larger than any we’ve seen in recorded history, total human numbers were reduced to a few thousand or less. Now we find ourselves in a heavily overpopulated situation where we may surpass the Earth’s capacity to provide food and energy within the next few decades, and we need to think ahead as to how to survive the coming period of extreme volatility. Still, there are supervolcanos in the world that are centuries and millennia past their normal eruption cycle, just ready to blow. Surely we are smart enough as a species to think ahead and prepare for such calamities, aren’t we?
I leave this as an open question. It has meaning well beyond the immediate topic. Thanks for reading – Tim
The US military may be starting to awaken to the realities of the population explosion. Reading the March 9th, 2012 edition of the NDIA (National Defense Industry Association) newsletter I came across an article titled “Panetta Makes It Official: Military Must Become Greener” that gives some insight into the growing concern in the Pentagon about energy supplies for the military. The article mentions a six-year DOD (Department of Defense) initiative aimed at reducing fuel and energy consumption in all areas of the United States military, and it cites some interesting numbers:
– More than 400 forward bases in Afghanistan currently consume between 250 and 7500 gallons of fuel each every day, depending on their size
– Large military bases consume around 50,000 gallons of fuel per day
– The U.S. military consumes 50 million gallons of fuel per month in Afghanistan
– The military just purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuels for testing, its largest purchase of biofuels ever
– The U.S. military consumes less than 2% of the nation’s fuel supply
All of this got me thinking about all the facilities and equipment using that fuel. 50 million gallons per month is a staggering amount. What will happen when money and fuel run short as the population peaks (with attendant economic upheavals), and begins to decline, which could occur as soon as 2040? Continue reading