Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Too Many People

It is rare to hear environmentalists much less politicians talk about the real environmental problem. Instead we hear about mitigate this or mitigate that and little about the fact there are too many people on this planet for the resources the good mother earth gave us. All one needs to do is look to the first two laws of thermodynamics to see that we're on a path of inevitable destruction. The first states that matter can neither be created or destroyed. The second law states that energy--the stuff that comes from matter and energy--gradually deteriorates over time. That is it gets transformed from usable to unusable forms.

We're on a path of rapid deterioration where not only are we using up resources that have available energy--trees, oil, clean air, clean water--but we're binding them up into unusable forms. At some point we'll pull up to the proverbial pump and there'll be nothing in the tank.

Right now we're seeing the skyrocketing of global food prices that are exacerbated by reactionary food policy in desperate countries. Food prices increase because of countries clamping down on distribution forced by importers clamping down. This results in shortages, and the law of supply and demand kicks and prices rise forcing people to essentially go without or riot.

The point of this is not to dissect food policy for individual countries or place blame in any one spot. It can't be. Our current situation is a global problem, not a local one. But it can be solved with local solutions. As our ability to plunder nature for the things our capitalist society needs is reduced, we're forced--for better or worse--into a situation of reexamining self-sufficiency. Instead of lawns we should plant gardens; instead of cars, we should ride bikes; instead of driving an hour to nearest WalMart, we need to shop local; and if we fight to protect our own backyards not from some foreign invader but from our own shortsightedness, we will hopefully create a backyard that'll be around in 100 years.

But the simple fact remains that there are too many people and at some point we'll just run out of resources if things continue. We're already seeing it today. What happens when the population doubles by the year 2050? What happens to all the creatures of the world that also depend on clean air and clean water and safe haven for survival? They have no choice. Rising global food prices are just the tip of the iceberg. We can only conserve ourself so far before there's nothing left to conserve. We need to use less, a lot less, and encourage negative population growth. Hoping we can tweak a broken capitalistic society that is so dependent on the human and increasing human population is just a recipe for a global environmental disaster waiting to happen. The storm clouds are gathering. And while we can only blame ourselves the current problems, we are also the solution. So, go forth and plant tomatoes, compost those rotten veggies. Free some energy. Your lawnmower will thank you later. So will humanity.


Anonymous Russell said...

We know what is going to happen, and yet do not act. That is immorality of a high level. Where are the churches?

Americans think that the die-off will kill all those people over there. There is no basis for this assumption.

Please attempt to break complacency.

The solar-powered tillable land on Earth can sustain three to four billion mouths. Oil-based agriculture has raised that limit to seven or eight billion. But the oil is running out and the carrying capacity of the planet is going to be lower. Simple facts. Starting today, three billion more people have to die than are born - in the next 40 years - either in a controlled or uncontrolled manner. And if breeding does not slow down, that's a lot of death.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Leah Oviedo said...

At the house I rent from, my landlord has many plants growing. She has a tangerine, apple and peach tree, strawberries, passion fruit and herbs.
Her yard is small ,but she didn't let that stop her.
I have had many people tell me they started growing food in their yards and see more houses with solar panels.
I my opinion, people are waking up, just very slowly!

5:05 PM  
Blogger Expatriate Chef said...

That requires a lot of education and birth control in countries that lack those resources. Given a choice, I doubt women who could not feed or support another child would have one after having had several. It's a whole other initiative. Important. The problems and solutions are up to all of us to address, not somebody else at some government level, true. But then, Wendell Berry has been telling us that for 40 years. Good post.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Alex Tiller said...

Boy that was gloomy. (but true) I agree with many of your comments. Thanks.

Alex Tiller

6:53 PM  
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