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.


Derek said...

Great reflections Hans!! Now I have another good line to use when I poke others at gatherings.
take care
Derek said...

Perhaps we can all agree that we live in a round and bounded {not flat and limitless} planetary home, one which is rapidly filling up with people and peoples' products, including millions upon millions of gas guzzlers, other polluting machines and thousands upon thousands of smokestack factories. This is to simply say, absolute global human population numbers are projected to reach 9+ billion people and the leviathan-like global economy is expected to grow in a near-exponential way by many trillions of dollars in the next 42 years.....provided we keep choosing to keep doing what we are doing now.

Please consider the following proposal as an alternative to what appears to be a soon to become unsustainable business-as-usual course of action. This idea for change results from the realization that we have to protect both the Earth's ecology and the human community's manmade economy.

First, the Earth and its environs are to be spared further wanton dissipation and reckless degradation; and second, the global economy needs to be rescued from becoming patently unsustainable in the relatively small, evidently finite and noticeably frangible world we are blessed to inhabit.

What could be accomplished if the human family determined to provide "stewardship incentives" to people who choose to protect the Earth and its environs, the same kind of incentives that are now routinely handed out in huge annual payouts to people who are supposed to be growing the global economy..... something the economic powerbrokers are clearly not doing now?

Please note that billions of dollars are being proposed in financial bailouts for companies building unsustainable products and factories and that year-end bonuses are being directed to "wonder boys" in investment houses and banks who have been uneconomically growing humanity's global economy by collusively creating dodgy financial instruments (e.g., credit default swaps) and fraudulent business models (e.g., Ponzi schemes). These self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe have ignored requirements of practical reality and turned a great economic system into a paltry gambling casino, making themselves the primary beneficiaries of pseudo-business activities along the way. In the light of such avaricious risk-taking and conspicuous hoarding behavior, they can no longer be called by any name other than "thieves of the highest order".

Perhaps reasonable and sensible people can agree that the greed of arrogant, self-serving tycoons and bankstas no longer is to be condoned, much less extolled as somehow good, and that the preservation of Earth and its environs needs to given some immediate attention in terms of funding substantial stewardship incentives equal in size to the financial rewards now directed to the economic powerbrokers.

By redirecting wealth, my generation of elders can begin to put the global economy on a sustainable, more reality-based foundation as well as to more reasonably and sensibly fulfill our responsibilities as good enough stewards of the Earth.

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

Michael said...

i live in the US in washington and i often drive hundreds of miles up to british columbia specifically for the views, the quietness, and for the clean air. i definitely agree with you on almost everything you are saying.

the true issue is that our lives and existence is the greatest play of irony there is. in the end, the human is just an animal who wants to survive and try to reproduce/propagate their species and kind.

you see the poor mother in ethiopia, zimbabwe, india, or haiti trying to survive to the next day by picking through garbage to find food so that her 6 kids can survive on and do the exact same thing as her if they somehow survived to her age. the suffering will only continue, but we as humans won't allow ourselves to die, to go extinct. it is the very instinct of survival which is the most powerful within us which is also the cause of our greatest suffering. we will claw and scratch and bite to continue on our survival.

i would love to share more ideas and thoughts with you if that is possible. my email is

give a shout out if you would like to talk.