Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reductions Inevitable

First, a climate crisis, then an energy crisis, now a food crisis. No wonder we've forgotten the poverty crisis that was declared the mother of all crises by the G8 only a year ago.

Yet, our success in tackling these predicaments doesn't seem to match the urgency we accord them. People don't stop travelling or even change their light-bulbs. Meanwhile, the steps we do manage to take turn out to conflict. Biofuels hijack farmland; enhancing agricultural output requires more oil; even scrapping food packaging increases waste by reducing the contents' longevity.

Maybe the problem is that we're looking at things in the wrong way. Perhaps these supposedly separate crises should really be considered facets of one straightforward, if intractable, phenomenon.

The populations of animal species expand with available food and habitat. When the supply of these things contracts, their populations fall. Technology has enabled humans to expand their global footprint massively, and their population has surged accordingly. However, this process couldn't go on for ever.

Actually, some of the technological advances that sustain the 6.6 billion of us here at present are now proving ecologically counter-productive. So, it should hardly surprise us that a population still expected to increase by a further three billion is overshooting the earth's carrying capacity.

A reduction in human numbers is therefore to be expected. Because we're aware of our circumstances and consider ourselves omnipotent, unlike other species, we imagine we can somehow circumvent this. However, technology cannot foster unlimited population expansion. Sooner or later, the bubble must burst.

Equally, we're incapable of enhancing group prospects by changing our behaviour. Ants might manage this, but humans are individually, rather than collectively, motivated. Our urges to consume and reproduce are therefore destined to flourish unrestrained.

The planet isn't threatened and our species will survive. However, billions will die. Get over it.

Source - First Post


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