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.

3 comments: said...

Dear Hans,

Thanks for telling the truth as you see it and for speaking out loudly, clearly and often about what everyone knows but precious few will say.

As you know better than most of us, "denial" is not only a river in Egypt. However we choose to look at the taxonomy of denial, you help us easily see that many too many leaders are collusively engaged in its practice. Even though it is perverse, denial is consensually validated behavior. If enough elite people remain in denial, something more, something illusory...can be put in place of what is more real and somehow likely to be more truthful.

Doing good work along the path toward a good enough future for children will not be an easy task for anybody. Evidently, everybody wants to be a somebody, but nobody in a position of power willingly assumes the requisite responsibilities and performs the duties of office. Such so-called 'leadership' is both ubiquitous and woefully inadequate.

Occasionally great people like you, James Hansen and Al Gore can be found who go against the tide of people with power...who dispute the elitists, the ones uniformly favoring whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable and religiously tolerated.

Certainly I share the view that everyone-in-power's silence with regard to what is happening in any "here and now" moment of space-time is the most formidable foe that the family of humanity faces.



Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001 said...

Behold a chimera on the far horizon, a paint horse upon which imperious and ignoble GREED rides. This horse and its pin-striped rider are an unexpected front runner, a Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. The "Four Horsemen" in tandem are following close behind.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
established 2001

Anonymous said...

I wrote this Thanksgiving morning while listening to radio news stories symptomatic of crowding.

Thankful for underpopulation.

For forty years we have heard about overpopulation.
My spellcheck does not recognize underpopulation as a word.

The scientific community studies overpopulation and its dangers. It may surprise you to know that this focus may promote growth. A study in a national park found the bad litter problem continued after posting signs asking people not to litter. However, in a test area, where signs described the wild beauty untouched by humans, the litter problem diminished.

The wild beauty of underpopulation has been missing in the arguments for a sustainable human family on earth. The clearest proof is that after forty years, underpopulation is still missing a definition:
Overpopulation means wars and hunger.
Underpopulation equals peace and plenty.

Economists give us a false choice: Underpopulation is economic jargon for a deplorable market condition. Many countries today (Italy, Germany, United States) believe they must promote population growth or else the national economy will fail; when what's really needed are economic policies that require growth in quality, not quantity. After all, economic policies are not sacrosanct; capitalism was created by white men. Earth's resouces were created by nature.

People can name six ways growth hurts their personal life (waiting in lines, lack of jobs, less opportunity for their chidren, resource depletion, pollution, etc.) People are waiting for someone to explain how underpopulation is good.

Interestingly, the dictionary has refused to acknowledge the economists' abuse of underpopulation; the word deserves its proper role as the opposite of overpopulation.