When I was born, we were headed for four billion people on Earth. Seven billion? When did that happen? Sure, we were raised with graphs of the population curve, but it’s one thing to learn it and another to live it. Actually, the same is true for climate change and so many other early warnings. Did you know that this past year was the year with the most carbon emissions in history? Whatever happened to Kyoto, Rio, the Nobel prize to Gore and IPCC, the conventions, reports, papers, meetings, conferences and unlimited calls to action?
It seems as though I am definitely living through the era of unheeded alarm bells. I think that if tomorrow they warned us of an impending asteroid collision with the Earth, we would believe that it would swerve out of the way at the last minute. Folks (I use this term explicitly) isn’t it time we listen to science? Isn’t it time we do the math? And, more to the point, isn’t it time we listen to the science and the math? We did all study it in school. We did all agree, back then, that one plus one equals two. But now we seem to believe that one plus one equals whatever is convenient. We keep rewriting the rules.
Look at this entire 1% debate. It’s clearly a situation of the 1% wanting to rewrite the rules. Though, this said, some could argue that the 99% also want to rewrite the rules. Some would argue that if you put any of the 99% into the 1% bracket they would quickly change their tune. I’ll do neither for now and defer to the science and the math instead. Simply, you cannot expect a ship to sail if you put all of the weight on one side. The ship will topple. In fact, there is nothing on Earth that has managed to survive without equilibrium. We need that balance. Nature figured that one out at the outset. Given time, all imbalance works its way back to balance. A meteorite hits the Earth 65 million years ago, the biosphere goes into chaos, species die. What happens next? Well, you guessed it, the system finds a new footing.
Whether it be in our own personal lives, socially-speaking or planetary, we need to avoid the extremes. You cannot give 1%, all of the wealth. You cannot expect climate change to resorb itself in the short term if you keep pumping in CO2. You cannot expect the population curve to just taper off by itself. You cannot expect to feed everyone if one set of countries consumes 3000 calories a day and others under 1000.
Wow, seven billion human beings on Earth. I admit, I’m somewhat ‘freaked’.