Monday, November 23, 2009

Female Bison on the Pill

Stop the presses! Contraception is being introduced to a bison herd on Catalina Island, California (,0,1351086.story). The goal is to control the size of the herd at about 150 head so the animals and the environment will be healthier. When the herd was about 350 in size, the bison’s health was deteriorating and they were trampling native plant communities, altering tree canopies by rubbing against trees, and undermining weed management efforts.

This raises questions, deep and important questions. First, how can family planning be acceptable for bison, yet be a taboo subject for humans, whose vast numbers are making a mess of the entire planet? How can such a vitally important issue be ignored? Why are we so blind?

Second, if an optimal population number can be determined for bison, then surely one can also be calculated for humans. In fact, similar studies suggest the earth can sustainably support no more than about four billion humans. But there is no discussion how this number might be achieved. Just an overwhelming silence .

Third, if a contraception method can be used for bison, which does not harm them nor change their social structure, can we not devise similar, humane methods for humans?

Fourth, why have the religious right, the Catholic Church and other pro-lifers not intervened in this case? After all, they get their moral knickers in a knot at even the hint of contraception, family planning or anything related to controlling human numbers. Human life is sacrosanct, they argue. But why is a bison’s life not sacrosanct? Humans and bison are both animals, two species that are genetically very similar (just look at the DNA structures). The arguments of the religious right are steeped in elitism: humans are the superior race.

Finally, the religious right fights vigorously to save the lives of those yet unborn. Yet their actions condemn future populations to lives that will be significantly inferior to what we enjoy (more elitism), just as the health and environment of the bison herd on Catalina Island degraded when their numbers became too large. Religious zealotary cannot reverse this unassailable fact.

Let’s recognize that human population is a serious problem, and let’s start talking about it. Maybe we can answer some of these questions.

12 comments: said...

If ever there was moment when meaningful communication and bold action needed to occur, that time is in Copenhagen. In less than two weeks time the pivotal Climate Change Conference will begin. Four weeks from now, what could be the most important international meeting of Century XXI will become a part of history. Now is the time for open communication and real action.

Please recall a story from the Bible regarding a gigantic tower built at the city of Babylon. Do you ever imagine that too much of our communication in the "now/here" could be similar to the foolhardy and confusing prattle supposedly heard in ancient times within the Tower of Babel? This skyscraping tower was apparently made of stone; whereas, a similar colossal construction in our time has been built from too many worthless greenbacks as a "house of cards" called the global political economy.

At least to me, it appears that some kind of terrible and unimaginable ecololgical wreckage could occur much sooner rather than later. The self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us are to going to keep getting more arrogant, more foolhardy, more greedy and richer. When a youngster, I was told to become a millionaire. That was the goal. Now I see children today being encouraged to be billionaires. That is the new sign of 'success'. Given the budget deficits we are running now, even as greedmongering leaders of one not-so-great generation mortgage the childrens' future and threaten their very existence, it cannot take long before the first trillionaire is minted. The mainstream media will report this news proudly, profanely. The Fortune 400 will be comprised of trillionaires soon thereafter. With the patently unsustainable levels of overproduction and overconsumption required to underwrite the conspiciously obscene per-capita lifestyles of a tiny minority of those in the human family who are perniciously concentrating a lion's share of world's wealth and power, it is no longer difficult to apprehend in the offing some sort of wholesale destruction of life as we know it on this Good Earth........willful blindness, hysterical deafness, elective mutism, global gag rules and stony silence notwithstanding.

Still, hopefully, meaningful communications and necessary changes toward sustainability remain a discernible possibility for those human beings with feet of clay. said...

All the dunderheaded disinformation, deceit, delay, denial and disasterous decisionmaking of the past 8 long dark years are in the past. With a little luck people with feet of play will overcome the arrogance, wanton greed and stupidity perpetrated by the Masters of the Universe among us, the most avaricious and self-righteous ones who widely proclaim their greed-mongering is God's work.

What mental disorder describes those among us who proclaim themselves Masters of the Universe doing the work of God?

Years of hard work by people with feet of clay all come down to this week in Copenhagen. The "now or never" week is at hand for the children, global biodiversity, life as we know it, the integrity of Earth and its environs. This week is the moment that the Masters of the Universe cannot avoid any longer; all of the human family are bound in this long-awaited momentous week. The time for action has come, finally. The opportunity held in this blessed moment must not be missed.

If anyone thinks of something that I can do to assist any of you to reasonably, sensibly, responsibly and humanely realize the goals of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, please send word to me.

Steve Salmony
Chapel Hill, North Carolina said...

Somehow the family of humanity will find one of the available paths to sustainable development without engaging in unsustainable economic growth. Things will be better not bigger. There are yet to be discovered ways of thinking and behaving that will lead us to do things differently from the ways we do things now. The unsustainable activities of unbridled, large-scale business expansion; conspicuous per-capita overconsumption; and skyrocketing overpopulation, will be skillfully regulated and carefully reduced in the course of time without irreversibly dissipating Earth and degrading its ecology, so the children have a chance at a good-enough future. said...

Yvo De Boer and the leaders of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference are engaged in "the good fight" at the last, best opportunity for human civilization to save the planet for the children and coming generation as a fit place for human habitation. Years ago I was told that my generation had a duty to leave the world a better place than what is was when it was given to us by our forefathers and foremothers. It goes without saying that my not-so-great generation of greed-mongering elders will fall woefully short of discharging its responsibilities. Come what may for the children. Too many arrogant and selfish leaders in a single generation have recklessly chosen to fight wrongful wars for wrongheaded reasons, at a cost of blood and treasure that is as astounding in its stupidity as it is incalculable to measure. said...

Dear Hans,

Thanks for speaking out so boldly as you have been about runaway human population? For unchallenged, peer-reviewed scientific research of this vital subject of global concern, please click on the following link,

When was last time words truer than yours were spoken? Unlike you, many too many people who gain the attention of mass media limit their comments to whatsoever is politically correct, economically expedient and socially convenient. As for those who have remained willfully silent, refusing to speak truth to power, they have done more damage to humanity, life as we know it, and the integrity of Earth's body and environs than they realize.

While self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us are actively ravaging the Earth and threatening the future of children everywhere, their electively mute minions are effectively acting as co-conspirators by silently consenting to the ruination of the planetary home in which we are blessed to live and, surely, unequivocally, not destroy as a fit place for human habitation.

To live in a garish time when greed and selfishness are conspicuously extolled as virtues, and not at least try to do what is required of any reasonable person so as to save the planet as a fit place for the children and coming generations to inhabit, is to have lived in vain and for naught, I suppose. Human beings with feet of clay, who choose to give up or give in just before taking advantage of the last, best chance to do one good thing that could save the world and life as we know it from the hyperconsumptive clutches of the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us, would surely be making one of the most colossal mistakes in history, would it not?


Steve said...

If only people could become as openly curious and communicative about what humans are doing in the world we inhabit as we are about the activity of bird and prey. Formidable human-induced global challenges are just as evident. To be a species with such remarkable self-consciousness, intelligence and other splendid gifts and to do no better than we are doing now is a source of deep sadness and occasional outbreaks of passionate intensity (likely signifying nothing).

Still I believe in remaining engaged in this worthwhile struggle, one in which so many human beings with feet of clay have been involved for a lifetime. For me, the first fifty years of life were lived, as you might imagine, as if in a dream world, the one devised by the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us. I had no awareness that a single generation could irreversibly degrade Earth's environs, recklessly dissipate its limited resources, relentlessly diminish its biodiversity, destabilize its climate and threaten the very future of children everywhere.

At least we can speak out loudly, clearly and often about these unfortunate human-driven circumstances, even though they are discomforting and unwelcome, and in the process educate one another. Like many in the Dot Earth community have already reported, I do not have answers to forbidding questions related to the patently unsustainable 'trajectory' of human civilization in its present, colossally expansive form; but it seems our conscious denial of, and willful refusal to openly acknowledge, "what could somehow be real" means that the requirements of practical "reality" cannot be reasonably addressed and sensibly overcome. A colossal ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort is likely to be the end result of our abject failure, I suppose, to respond courageously and ably to the looming global challenges that appear to have emerged robustly and converged rapidly in our time.

Dr. Carl Myers said...

I had joined ZPG back in the early 70's and have been amazed that there has been so little recent discussion on the topic. It is amazingly politically incorrect to even mention the topic, let alone discuss the possibility of policy to decrease the birthrate. I was listening to our Christian radio station in our town and the commentator was saying that we are not going to have enough people in the world.
I had my first grandchild this week. It is wonderful to hold a newborn, although I am so pessimistic about the world's future that I would have been very happy not having any at all. I do not have a solution, although I own a small chain of vegan fast food restaurants in an attempt to do what I can for the world. A lower birth rate would be the best for the world's people. Thanks for your blog. said...

Given a planet with the size, composition, frangible ecology and finite carrying capacity of Earth, could someone comment on how much longer the global limitations of Earth can be expected to sustain the unsated overconsumption, unbridled overproduction and unregulated overpopulation activities of the human species in our time?

Despite every effort to appear reasonable and sensible, the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us approach economic and ecologic problems in patently unsustainable ways by adamantly advocating and recklessly pursuing greed-driven schemes based upon the seemingly endless growth of human consumption, production and propagation that will lead humanity to precipitate, however inadvertently and soon, the destruction of life as we know it and the Earth as a fit place for human habitation, I suppose.

If the human community is in a race against time, even at this late hour when pathological arrogance, greed-mongering and elective mutism rule the world, is it ever too late to speak of what is true to you or to do the right thing, as best we can? said...

What if climate destabilization is a practical and actual result of the overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species on Earth in our time? But for whatever reasons or excuses, no one is willing to talk about these human-driven threats because some imagined danger. So what?

There are courageous people actually engaged in dangerous situations in many places on the surface of Earth this very day. Sometimes there is work worth doing that requires individuals to directly confront danger. I cannot imagine living a worthwhile life and not having to facing danger, at least occasionally. And if the cause justifies coming face to face with danger, then mere danger cannot be allowed to serve as a basis for willful blindness, hysterical deafness, elective mutism and cowardice.

Let us imagine for a moment that the current gigantic scale and skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers on Earth represent the "mother" of all looming global ecological threats to future human wellbeing and environmental health. Would a cause like protecting life as we know it and preserving the integrity of Earth's ecology not be a cause to which people respond ably by choosing to face whatever dangers may attend such a confrontation?

Could we merely begin speaking out with a bit more precision about what are the dangers that are to be derived from the open discussion of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth? said...

Massive endemic fraud and wanton unbridled greed are ruling the world and ruining the Creation in our time. Willful blindness, hysterical deafness and elective mutism prevail over speaking truth to the wealthy and powerful. What is to become of the children?

There is a path to a good enough future for the children, I suppose, but it is not be found by recklessly pursuing the patently unsustainable path of Charles Ponzi, the path so adamantly advocated by the greed-mongering bankstas and other Masters of the Universe among us who profanely proclaim that they are the ones doing "God's work".

But let's not talk about such things. Shhhhh! said...

It appears to me as if one certain thing humanity cannot keep doing much longer is the very same thing we are so adamantly and foolishly doing now as the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us choose to recklessly speed up the ever increasing, seemingly endless growth of the global economy as well as to deceptively manipulate human beings into going along with a conspicuous per-capita overconsumption and unreserved overpopulation agenda.

If we keep doing what we are doing now and the human community keeps getting what it is getting now, I fear that sooner rather than later everything we are led to believe we are protecting and preserving will be ruined. In the not-too-distant future a distinct probability could exist that one of two colossal calamities will occur. The wanton dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort unless, of course, the world’s ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global political economy (the modern "economic colossus") continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic ‘wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point humanity's runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

Could we talk about the need for a new vision for life on Earth?

Months ago Andy Revkin of the NYTimes and the Dot Earth community asked the question, "What does humanity do when we grow up?" Dr. Joel Cohen has explained elsewhere how humanity is currently in an adolescent phase of its development and is moving toward maturity. Other experts have suggested that the behavior of people in many places is even more primitive, in the sense of being less grown-up than adolescents and more nearly infantile.

Perhaps another way of coming up with a new vision would be to ask the question, "What might a human world look like when full grown, mature human beings with feet of clay design, construct and organize a new world order in the future?"

Pete Blumer said...

The bison is one of many perfect examples of how we must address the overpopulation issues before we destroy the planet and reduce our quality of life to nothing. As the eleventh of fourteen Catholic children I know poor qaulity of life. My reading suggests two billion is a sustainable level for a good quality of life.

As a teacher, I spread the word as much as I can. My Congressman and Senators don't seem to get it or care.