Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sarah: Symbol of a Sick State of Mind

I don't want to write about Sarah Palin on a personal level. After all, she's an attractive lady, has some pretty significant achievements to her credit and looks like she would be fun to be with.
What scares me, however, is her beliefs. Even more frightening is that a large number of Americans share her ideals. She is a symbol for moral derailment.
First, Ms Palin has five children and is opposed to abortion and family planning. Her championing of the sanctity of life is the ultimate contradiction. It appears Ms Palin hasn't learned about fish stocks being wiped out, coral reefs dying, oil shortages and food riots. She protects life today, but doesn't care one whit for future generations who, if we all followed the Palin doctrine, would live a nightmare, if they lived at all.
Ms Palin shrugs off her daughter's pregnancy, "Well, that's life. Teenagers will be teenagers." Nice try. Yes, teenagers do get pregnant, but it's wrong, wrong, wrong. Teenage pregnancies are a serious problem that reduces the quality of life for both mother and child and places a burden on society. Sex education, family planning and—listen up all you Ms Palins—parents providing good role models, are vitally needed.
Ms Palin does not believe global warming is caused by humans. Well, who the heck raised carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from 280 ppm to 382 ppm since the industrial revolution started? God?
Ms Palin believes in creationism. I'm dumbfounded. Religious fanaticism is just a way of cowering behind a shield of ignorance, a means of justifying unacceptable behaviour (an example, extreme perhaps, is suicide bombers).
The globe is teetering on the brink and one big reason is that too many share the philosophy of Ms Palin. It's time to put ignorance and zealotry aside and turn to common sense, logic and caring about our neighbours and the common good. Good luck Obama.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Glass is Empty

Over the past 60 years human civilization has had the best innings of its 400,000 years of existence. The quality of life — at least in the developed countries — just kept soaring higher and higher.
But now — ever so suddenly — we have stumbled into dark times. I can't help but worry that the situation is going to get worse, far worse than anyone imagines. Because life has been so good for so long, many people feel it's an entitlement, that simply being born bestows on us the right to prosperity and all the materialistic hedonism it entails. Not true!
It's not a stretch to imagine massive unemployment in the USA in the next few years, perhaps reaching levels seen in the Great Depression. Should that happen, things could get real ugly. This time attitudes are different, gangs and guns are are prevalent — thanks a million, Charlton Heston and the NRA! — and there is nowhere to migrate to find employment. I predict that society will breakdown in some regions. The hot, arid southwest is a strong candidate. But where will that lead? Will we see anarchy, or can society recover?
Even before this made-by-greed financial crisis struck, the environment and resources were being hammered. The oceans are being raped, food riots have erupted and the insidious global warming is slowly bringing this cauldron we call Earth to a boil. And with everyone's attention focussed on the economy and jobs, the environment will, unfortunately, take a distant back seat.
The root cause, which our leaders conveniently choose to ignore, is overpopulation. The simple fact is that there are too few resources on this good planet to support seven billion people in a North American lifestyle. Sadly, the population issue will remain locked on the back burner. I despair for my grandchildren.
Let's peer into the murky future. How do you think this mess will play out? How low can it go? Please send me some scenarios you think will develop in the next year or two.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Reflections in a Mirror

I bumped into Devon, a friend who works in the resource sector, at a recent social gathering. He began to curse the tiny pine beetle. "Have you seen aerial photos of the damage they're doing to the forests?" he demanded, poking me in the chest with a pudgy finger while waving a beer in the other hand. "Almost 15% of British Columbia's forests have been ruined by these damnable insects. They're costing the province a fortune and now they're spreading into Washington state and Alberta. Something's got to be done, the government has to take action.
"Why would you say that?" I replied. "After all, they're only copying human behaviour. You should admire them for being so successful." I reminded him of human exponential growth – 4 billion more people in the past 50 years – how we're wiping out resources like oil and fisheries even faster than pine beetles are decimating forests.
He looked puzzled, but came back with, "The government should mount an aerial campaign using pesticides or whatever means we have."
"Yes," I responded, "that is always our human answer. If any other species steps over their boundaries -- and often even if they don't – we cull them, shoot them, spray them, destroy their habitat."
"Devon, governments everywhere are fixed on the goal of growing the economy, expanding even more. Why don't we humans take steps to control our own population? If it's so obvious for pine beetles, why are we blind to our own unsustainable growth?" He took a deep drink and didn't answer.
I jabbed him in his ample girth, "Devon, when you look at your aerial photos, you are looking into a mirror and seeing a reflection of human behaviour. Yet you have never shown the same passion about reducing human numbers. Why?"
He mumbled something about my having had too many drinks and wandered off shaking his head.