The World I Live In
I realized, in the fourth grade, 1956, that my life-style and consumer habits were a food-chain problem – Malthus Theory of over-population rang true and clear to me. Since then the human population has more than doubled in my brief lifetime. And life-spans are being extended, especially for those that can afford modern medicine. When one species’ population increases others decline. It is that simple. I am a threat to coho salmon. I am a threat to polar bears. I am a threat to song birds. I am a threat to human beings A friend of mine told his doctor that he declined life-extending medical treatments. The doctor almost understood when my friend said he wanted to make room for others, on his terms, with his last work being his best work. The doctor almost understood.
While my friend finalized his trust not one of the many bankers he dealt with had thought of an economic system other than what they were doing or even the need to being thinking about change. Talk about not looking both ways when crossing the street.
In the spring of 2013, a monitoring station on Mauna Loa volcano recorded carbon dioxide of 400 parts per million. Earlier in the winter, Barrows, Alaska registered over 400 parts per million. In geologic history measurements over 286 ppm were tipping points that led to rapid, geological-time-speaking, mass extinctions. The Mauna Loa’s station’s first measurement in 1958 was 318 – we were already past the tipping point. The equal and opposite reaction to burning fossil fuels to grow economies is carbon dioxide goes into the sky. I also wonder what happens to voids from which oil has been extracted. A recent letter to the editor stated that the writer knew human burning of fossil fuels is contributing to climate change and went on to say this is not the time to stop because it would adversely impact our economy. When will be the right time to stop?
In a world of multiple causation there are other economic issues at play because our economy is based on tomorrow paying for today. Without credit cards much of Sacramento Valley’s converted farmland would still be farmland. We project and endorse our current economic model because we envision an ever-expanding population – consumer base. If we step back and really look at this concept our free enterprise system is little more than a ponzi scheme. Old investors will be paid by new investors. Or will they? Today will be paid for by tomorrow. Or will it?
Populations, of many species, that sense population pressure have historically embraced non-breeding-alternative sexual-breeding relationships. We can see it today with the acceptance of gay culture in the past couple of decades, smaller families and older parents. Society no longer trumpets breeding large families as the cat’s meow, after-all cat populations have their own problems and talk to the birds cats eat. It would be best for us to acknowledge where we are, why and what we are doing. What does this have to do with food production? Everything, fewer people means existing food supplies will go further. Look at the typical American diet of processed and fast foods. Are these healthy foods? Could our country feed our people a diet of fresh wholesome food? Recently the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease. The argument of genetics against free-will ensued. I did not see one comment about the quality of the food. Nor did I hear anything about all the consumer products, helping to grow the economy, that take away from exercise. I would say obesity, in many situations, is a result of mass consumerism. When I was a child, my spare time was occupied by neighborhood sports. Now is a different world. Nationally, let alone locally, grown fresh food is not feeding the nation.
The world does not go back to where it was – it changes. The only constancy is extinctions and, at times, mass extinctions. This is neither good or bad, it is the nature of things. Species make way for other species. In our case almost all species are giving way to humans and humans will ultimately give way to other humans and ultimately other species. We need to understand our place on the planet and in geological time. We cannot stop our own extinction, we can mitigate some apparent possibilities but this will require modified human nature, difficult odds, and it will only postpone until that climatic event… be what ever it will be.
We know that catastrophic, this is man’s word-concept, volcanic explosions have changed fauna-flora-food production for decades if not centuries. the grand irony is the by-product of these eruptions became new soil to produce food. take away and give – what a planet. just think what will the planet will be like when all that carbon dioxide floats back down to earth.
Just think of the new species that will inhabit earth. In most cases they will not exist without human nature doing what it is doing now.
And now – welcome to the anthropocene. We are here. We are all powerful. We are the volcano. We are the large meteor. We are the 7 billion and counting.
©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.