September 2, 2007
Call me an alarmist, but if the human race fails to address the urgency of climate change, we’re screwed. This isn’t science fiction. The planet is sweating out the equivalent of a hormonal hot flash … and we’re the hormones! One fix requires addressing our limits. It means some rain is gonna fall on the parade of our militaristic and materialistic glories. We can’t go on consuming the planet like a custard-filled éclair or we’ll meet a fate that only lemmings can appreciate. Thanks to the human race, species are dying faster than brain cells at a frat house kegger. We are exercising our “dominion” over the earth with the same sensitivity and generosity as an Aspen landlord. What we fail to understand is that nature is the foundation of the environment. Duh! Nature creates the environment and endeavors to underwrite it even in the face of the technological war we unscrupulously wage against nature. In our little valley we are quick to convert rural landscapes into urban congestion; we hunger for conspicuous consumption and conspicuous waste; we strip ourselves of consumer limits; we worship the Machiavellian ends of money, fame and power. The big fix is population, the control of which is key to the health of the natural world. Unmitigated sex is marching us toward privation, scarcity and civil disorder in a bizarre genocidal suicide. Meanwhile, populist prophets promise “abundance for everyone, forever!” This harks to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, where alchemy clouds reality with magical chimeras and the vainglorious achievements of science. The cornucopians hope that the gravy train will never end. They are global credit card debtors who rack up bio-debt on the promise of an inexhaustible natural bank account. Natural resource debt is neither sustainable nor moral, and we’re pushing it off onto our progeny until their very lives are mortgaged.Simply stated, there are too many homosapiens on this beleaguered planet, too many mouths to feed with the latest junk food. Traditionalists and many religious faiths don’t get that yet because they’re conditioned by dogma instead of intelligence. Denying population pressure through institutionalized conformity is a pernicious behavioral mindset that violates the laws of nature.It’s not just the developing world that needs to rein in birth rates, but the First World, where per capita consumption and CO2 footprints are many magnitudes larger. If material parity between First and Third Worlds is ever achieved, it will be the death knell for the biosystems that sustain us. An added tier of First World consumers will require an additional planet, but we don’t have another planet, so human population must decline, ideally by choice instead of by the foibles of man and the triumphs of nature. Man’s foibles come with war and genocide. The triumphs of nature come with disease and natural catastrophes. Free choice is a far better option than habitual or systemic violence; we just need the will and the conscience to exercise it.Man is supposed to be an intelligent creature able to choose his destiny with logic, reason, and conscience. Instead, we propagate ourselves over an enormous anthill where billions are clawing for just enough to eat while the privileged few contend with obesity, gluttony, and decadence. Without addressing – seriously and honestly – the runaway growth of homo sapiens, all other environmental fixes pale. We either control our reproductive addiction with birth control and quotas or this planet will be consumed like a worm-ridden apple.It’s time we plan for our future with intelligence and conscience, securing our beneficial survival within this delicate evolutionary experiment we call life. Otherwise, we’re just another failed species to be swept aside by the forces nature from which we remarkably sprang.Paul Andersen’s column appears Mondays.
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