Boiled Down to Two Nuggets

There are really only two unaddressed conditions that matter, but they will doom all human life if we don’t do something radical.

One, we already have a world population that is four times what the planet can sustainably support, and it will double well before the century is over.

Two, the advanced world has created global climate change that will soon have catastrophic consequences for the entire planet.

There are really only two problems
that will doom all human life.

A very small minority actually understands the severity of these problems, and the ones who control the money believe there is no problem. They are people trying to have a lawn party in the path of a forest fire. Their self-delusion is increasingly difficult to maintain as the daily news lists one disaster after another. But the relentlessly worsening conditions march on anyway, paying no attention to how they delude themselves. You can see the numbers marking our downward drift in every single annual report on the condition of the planet over the past three decades.

We, you and I, are insulated by wealth from understanding what is happening. We don’t feel it—yet. There has been a continual barrage of scientific studies, reports, films, and books since the 1960s and before, and each one of them points out why things are worse than the previous report. These studies and reports come from all parts of the world, and from virtually every discipline. The findings are well understood by people in places already feeling the effects, but they need to be understood by everybody. But so far none of it has really cost the rich world much. There seems to be plenty of food, and relatively few of us have been forced to abandon our homes to rising waters. Yet.

The looming catastrophe is a low priority item for most countries, except for those for whom it has already become a threat they cannot ignore, such as surging population and diminishing food that has led to political instability.

By and large, we do virtually nothing
about the problems that
threaten our very existence.

Overpopulation has been conquered in a few parts of the world. Thailand, for example, which was rescued by a national program of pregnancy prevention that everyone knew about and understood. When the AIDS epidemic hit, a nationwide condom program was already in place. A few new laws brought HIV infections way down, and brought the birth rate to replacement level. All Thais know and understand this program.

In several parts of the world, girls are being educated for the first time, and the predictable result in every case is that young women reduce the number of children they have, sometimes to below replacement rate. Poverty is reduced. Life is better. Yet education of girls is still viewed as pointless, or even a crime against nature, in a number of cultures.

Climate change and its consequences is understood in some places. Some governments are attempting to do something about it, but the overall effect is almost negligible as the worst of the big offenders continues to dawdle. The pollution that chokes China and India, causing many thousands of deaths, is readily seen from space, and long ago drifted across the Pacific into our own atmosphere. But the US remains the greatest polluter.

We are people trying
to have a lawn party
in the path of a forest fire.

Unfortunately, the most optimistic cases are exceptions. By and large, we do virtually nothing about the problems that threaten our very existence. Those who control the purse strings do not even think about it, because to do so would require them to acknowledge their own culpability. They follow Upton Sinclair’s dictum, failing to understand because their paycheck depends on their ignorance. Politicians cannot see beyond the next election, and are focussed entirely on their own re-election, never mind minor things like the rising ocean. Big business cannot see beyond the next quarterly report, and seems incapable of even seeing the problem, let alone understanding its own role. The nearly singular exception among large corporations is Coca Cola, which has just woken up because they are losing money due to climate change.

What is coming our way may not be clear in detail, but the end is altogether too certain: we’re committing slow suicide. The planet will survive just fine, but we won’t, unless we make radical changes that we seem to be completely unwilling to even consider.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Perhaps the rich 1% that has all the money, and is busy having a lawn party, continue to do so because they believe programs will actually find a new place to go to spoil.


  2. True, unfortunately. They refuse to believe we’re actually trashing the place.


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