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We Have Too Many People

by cskendrick Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 03:52:02 AM EST

The following is based on an old post on another certain (giant orange-themed) American blog; I stumbled across the comment while searching else and thought it might be worth posting as a diary, what with the theme being what it was:

That we truly are coming to the end of the world as we know it, and saying "I feel fine!" about it is unacceptable.

More below the break.


We have too many people living

...short...

...dangerous...

...destitute...

...demoralized...

...and disenfranchised lives...

...with more people on the way...

...and an economic...

...never mind ecological credit card limit...

...that is just about maxed out...

...on account we spend the resources of several Earths (at early 21st century efficiencies)....

...to feed the consumer and status fetishes...

...of no more than 20% of Humanity...

...and of these, 99% going on 99.9%...

...have to share 2% going on 1% of the crumbs...

...and all of this doddering, almost-toppling socioecological edifice...

...depends on only one primary mode of energy extraction, processing and distribution...

...that's oil, for you kids on the short bus...

...but we are being compelled by increasingly paranoid...

...violent...

...reactionary...

...and repressive regimes...

...with little clone tyrannies acting as resource extraction overseers overseas...

...that not only is the Oil Crash and the subsequent Long Depression coming...

...its arrival is being accelerated from about forty to about fourteen years down the road...

...and when it hits...

...not only the global oil economy...

...but the global civilization that depends on it...

...will fall to shreds...

...and if we are lucky no more than a few billion people will perish in the resulting Dieback...

...that is, if we just cruise along, as the Neocrows would prefer...

...and it this scenario, where Malthusian mechanics come at last to prevail on account we are absent the means to ditch this big blue Petri dish called Earth...

...superpowerdom is what the runaway climate will have. Human nation-states will not even be in the same weight class, and will have trouble remaining viable as populations, never mind polities.

Well, gee, that was depressing. Quickly, the good news!

To avoid sudden adjustment (by famine, plague, regional or global warfare, or all of the above), there will have to be family planning and contraception...

...made all the more necessary as people live longer and more youthful lives (try being fit to 80, alive to 90, on average!)...

...and valuing their own longevity, having more consideration for personal and collective safety...

...and having longer to plan, to learn, to appreciate, and to recover from the "oopses" of life, be more capable...

...and demanding of their fair share of the good things in life, and less patient with excuses, and more capable of seeing through subterfuge as a whole...

...and being vital, more capable of asserting and if need be, fight for their rights...

...and with fewer children coming, out of ecological and sociological necessity, the vital functions of education and child safety, and preparing the future generation for its own trusteeship of Earth will be taken much more seriously...

...and with less patience for goobledegook, be it secular or ecclesiastical or other in origin...

...and once we go ahead and file for ecological bankruptcy and get a good rehabilitation program in place for our economies and our ecology...

...we might have a chance of making Earth -- and Humanity -- going concerns again...

...and buy the time to either lower our resource consumption to one Earth....

...or figure out ways to extract energy and materials from elsewhere in the Solar System to feed the consumer habits we either cannot or will not set aside...

...on account no stable global economy can exist where a mere fraction of a fraction live in one century...

...while their virtual retinues live in the one before...

...and the vast multitudes outside the gate live in sight of modernity, but are barred on pain of death from enjoying it...

...so once such disequilibria (no, call injustice and exploitation the downright theft that it is, because those teeming angry billions already are) are adjusted, we might have a chance for lasting peace amongst ourselves...

...and knowing the true demand for energy and resources and the global costs of extracting these goods in various ways, clean and not so clean...

...we might find the black, viscous and noisome stuff that comes out of cracked pipes and grounded supertankers less in demand...

...and start thinking more of that immense campfire in the center of the Solar System as the primary energy source...

...and the smaller but still-mighty engine at the Earth's core a very acceptable substitute...

...and with abundant energy...

...and more efficient and ecophilic extraction processes...

...we might find the Earth more bountiful at the far end of the century than at the present time...

...and afford more prosperity and freedom to ourselves and the many who do not in any meaningful sense enjoy it just yet...

...for when there is much to share, there are few excuses not to do so, and much impatience with those who do not...

...and woe to the feckless fool who gets in the way of the common good.

But say there just isn't enough such awareness and resolve...

...that's it's just plain too late...

...that there remain too many people...

...too much violence and greed and status worship...

...too much begrudging of human dignity to Humanity as a whole, and an insistence than only those who have the means to enjoy a rich life deserve to have life at all...

...that the rich and powerful are just too much in charge...

...in that case...

...the course is set for an Age of Plagues, for a cascade of disasters that may well end in the extinction of Homo sapiens and as much Earthlife as Mankind can drag down to Hell with it...

Or say the course is turned, but the damage is done...

...then at least the worst crime will have been averted...

...the sin of not having tried to be humane, and therefore worthy of the name human...

...for I say it is better to attempt to thrive or perish as Humanity, than to shed our humanity like a snake shedding old skin, and have a few survive as demons.

Display:
...are appreciated.

Heck, I don't have all the answers. :)

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 02:45:09 AM EST
I don't know about saving us all, but you don't need nobel prize winning economists and social scientists to know that right now this minute everyone must start altering their lifestyles so as to live more responsibly as much as they possibly can.  And then alter it a little more.
(May take some unpopular legislation, redistribution of wealth and or rationing, but I don't know if it has to come to that.  Ok, I think it does...)

I won't have kids but may adopt one day.  I know it's really very highly unpopular to suggest that having kids, or x amount of kids, is irresponsible.  I'm not sure about China-style quotas, but for now, those of us who really don't want kids should not have them.  And it's unconscionable that every single day women who do not want to bring children into this world do so because of social mores and legal barbedwire.  

Also, we just have insanely wasteful lifestyles and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that if we drive less, or heck, walk and bike, if we live in smaller quarters requiring less resources to heat, light, etc., if we buy fewer things we don't need, and create less waste that can't be thrown into the recycle bin or compost pile, then things will get a little better for everyone.

If we are sincere about caring about these things, then we have to start making these "sacrifices" now, while we are figuring out the big stuff like reshaping national infrastucture and building strong transnational bodies which can execute and enforce laws to protect the basic rights of all people (clean water, peace, medicine), not just those of the world's bullies, while we change our education curricula to ensure everyone is taught that their choices have consequences throughout the world and how to better ones.

That's some soapbox, eh?  If I jump down I may break something...


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 11:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a doozy!

And exactly, regarding your points.

There is nothing magical or magnificent required to solve the problem: there are too many of us, and too many of us with an appetite for excessive consumption, and encouraged at great expense in the form of marketing and propaganda to continue to have that those appetites despite their self-destructive character.

We treat it as a birthright; we are told it's our 'way of life', we are told that dying by the thousands and killing by the millions (if need be) is righteous, to defend our 'way of life'.

But what we are defending is a stale, increasingly-obsolete order that happens to have control of the commanding heights of politics, the economy, the press and military might.

And it's not prepared to pass quietly into history. In fact, it's prepared to fight, to wreck everything, rather than be replaced.

Dying civilizations are like that.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 08:23:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great writing style... As for the content: chewing on it, will see what I can spit out.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 04:19:31 AM EST
I blame beer for the innovation. :)

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 08:28:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very concise and precise.  "Ecophilic", I like.  I liked the "oopses of life", too.  I agree with you, matey!  Avast!

To avoid sudden adjustment (by famine, plague, regional or global warfare, or all of the above), there will have to be family planning and contraception...

Education, too.  I read, or heard, that as education levels rise, especially among girls, the number of births goes down.

I enjoyed the idea that as we live longer we become more adept--better-at being good humans.  The old(er) humans I know seem to become better at not making themselves unhappy, but beyond that they are as confused--and prejudiced--as other age groups.  (The wise old were wise young?)  I think information transfer (e.g. as we are doing now--or attempting) may lead to the same list of benefits.  But I can imagine the same rule applies: yes for those who would have been gathering information anyway; no, for those who wouldn't.

...to feed the consumer and status fetishes...
...of no more than 20% of Humanity...
...and of these, 99% going on 99.9%...
...have to share 2% going on 1% of the crumbs...

I don't understand the fourth sentence.

...too much begrudging of human dignity to Humanity as a whole

...the sin of not having tried to be humane, and therefore worthy of the name human...

Begs the question (I think) of what "humane" and "Humanity" means in practice.  I can hear the "tough love" school rumbling towards that sentence, with the committed religious at the front.

..for I say it is better to attempt to thrive or perish as Humanity, than to shed our humanity like a snake shedding old skin, and have a few survive as demons.

I'm not sure about the idea of Humanity.  Human beings, yes.  A set of basic regulations limiting the behaviour of all human beings, yes.  Beyond that, I don't think...I don't think there will be agreement on the details.  What if a group of humans slowly changed their behaviours and even their physical structure to the point where they no longer seemed human, but this was not seen as a negative?  (I'm thinking physical characteristics seen historically.  "People look the same when they have been living together for a long time."  Wild reference to the "white" person's amazement at "humans" with "black skin--were they even humans?  And the black's amazement at people with "white" skin.  There will be modern equivalents.  If evolution happens, then we are evolving.  Or, when did homo erectus stop being homo erectus?  When the snake sheds its old skin, the skin remains as does the snake--in its new skin.  What is the "snake" that we call "human"?  How could we define it/ourselves thatwould get world-round agreement--and which would be useful in furthering the noble aim encapsulated in this fine diary?

Cheers for writing it.


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Aug 13th, 2006 at 07:25:44 AM EST
An often-repeated theme was that the entire point is not to have a unified front, as we don't quite know what the boundaries are of the problem set that's coming at us like a ton of falling bricks.

The solution: subcultures. Give society room to innovate from the ground up, to develop, to experiment, to invent answers that work on behalf of the people who are closest to the consequences of bad or neglected decisions, and thus the most highly motivated to act.

We do not need a social transformation so much as experimentation, taking place in many places, in many hearts and minds, with many answers. We need an entirely new milieu of questions, of how to question, an epistemology for the Third Millennium...and we're just not quite there insofar as how to derive such a thing, because we simply do not have sufficient data at this point, and awareness of that data in a sufficient number of minds.

So, if there was one common thing, I suppose it would be this: That Ignorance is Death, War is Death, and Freedom is Life for us all.

Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)

by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Mon Aug 14th, 2006 at 08:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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