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Co-Written By Sally Dugman,
Sheshu Babu and Steve Salmony

Sally Dugman shares:

For many years, it has been known by some people that the world or at least a huge portion of it is going literally to hell in a handbag, the place that holds money and credit cards to support shopaholic tendencies across the world. It is due to the economic system largely being at odds with the natural world remaining intact. It’s quite the collision course with climate change factors, stripped forests, conflicts over resource rights, the sixth great extinction, water and other critical resource deficits and other dire matters increasingly in the mix over time.

The Quaker economist Kenneth Boulding sums up the situation in a pithy way: Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.

Meanwhile the human population keeps bursting ever higher while more and more people slip into poverty due to a number of myriad interrelated factors like an inadequate number of jobs, inadequate salaries for many jobs that do exist, too many people for the local resource base to subsume, resource conflicts ending in murder and other factors.

So this is the situation that results to date:

Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. Poverty Facts and Stats — Global Issues

The richest 1% of the global population received 82% of wealth created in 2017, while nothing went to the poorest half (3.7 billion) of humanity, according to a new study … And while billionaire wealth rose by 13% a year from 2006-2015, ordinary workers saw their incomes rise by an average of 2% a year.Oxfam: 3 Richest Americans Have as Much as Bottom 50% | Money

In relation to such facts, I’ll be the first to claim that the bottom half of humanity in poverty needs to raise eco-footprint and carbon-footprint loads so as to have adequate simple housing, sufficient food, clean water, schools, water treatment plants, clothes, adequate household furnishings, medical care and so on. Many families live on the streets across the entire world AND in the USA. This is unacceptable as are the deplorable and disease-ridden slums spread out across the world in which many live.

All the same, can you picture about what this improvement means in terms of the natural world degradation and climate change issues with half of humanity receiving many more basic goods and services? Can you picture it in terms of the fact that the human population just keeps climbing ever higher when beneficial conditions do exist for the majority of us?

Many people can. And here are some of the demographic results:

Yet there is more. In the USA, for example, our Southern states may become too hot to support much life if any at all. Some of them and others will be overwhelmed with floods, tornadoes, ocean rise problems (which will destroy many coastal cities, other landscapes and possibly much of Florida), wildfires due to drought and other causes combined, spreading desertification and lack of water, as well as a transportation system and sufficient energy supplies to bring in goods to regions under duress.

It’s fine to learn about water conservation. Lots of people who I know, including farmers, practice water care. However, one has to first have sufficient and CLEAN water to use it in a careful way.

I read back in 2010 that 50 to 70 countries had  fresh water deficits. Now one can assume it is even higher now in number of inefficiencies for entire countries and particular regions for some countries.

In relation here are some excerpts from  For global water crisis, climate change may be the last straw: World to face 40% water deficit by 2030:

Before man-made climate change kicked in — and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May — the global water crisis was upon us.

Freshwater resources around the world were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall.

Many major rivers — diverted, dammed, over-exploited — no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry. Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below.

“Across the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain” — home to more than 600 million people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh —- “groundwater is being pumped out at an unsustainable and terrifying rate,” said Graham Cogley, a professor emeritus at Trent University in Ontario Canada.

More than half the water in the same basin is undrinkable and unusable for irrigation due to elevated salt and arsenic levels, according to a recent study.

Groundwater provides drinking water to at least half of humanity and accounts for more than 40 percent of water used for irrigation.

But underground aquifers do not fill up swiftly, as a reservoir does after a heavy rain. Their spongy rock can take centuries to fully recharge, which makes them a non-renewable resource on a human timescale.

As a result, many of the world’s regions have passed the threshold that Peter Gleick, president-emeritus of the Pacific Institute and author of The World’s Water, has called “peak water”.

“Today people live in places where we are effectively using all the available renewable water, or, even worse, living on borrowed time by overpumping non-renewable groundwater,” he told AFP.

Exhausted groundwater supplies also cause land to subside, and allow — in coastal regions — saltwater to seep into the water table.

Dozens of mega-cities, rich and poor, are sinking: Jakarta, Mexico City, Tokyo and dozens of cities in China, including Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai have all dropped by a couple of metres over the last century.

“Half a billion people in the world face severe scarcity all year round,” said Arjen Hoekstra, a water management expert at Twente University in the Netherlands.

I do know about what this situation means for my country. These links make it quite clear:

Yes, we are losing our Ogallala fossil water, which is under eight USA states. There goes the USA breadbasket — our Midwestern agriculture — and a part of California is sinking much every year due to losing its underground water, too.

What Happens to the U.S. Midwest When the Water’s Gone?

California Is Sinking, NASA Imagery Shows – Live Science

It seems to me that our northern states that are still intact when conditions worsen in the US will have to take on the brunt of the US population, which is currently still climbing and at 327 million to date.

Of course, these states doing so will subsume a great many more people at a further loss of biodiversity, forest being cut down for fuel, lumber, other wooden products, along with the development of farmland. Yet if too much human population comes into the Dakotas, Michigan, northern New York, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and so on — they will be in population overshoot and collapse, too, as will have eventually happened to the Southern and Midwestern states,  in addition to at least a portion of California.

So I do understand that the states still viable in the USA will not be able to take in lots of people from collapsed and collapsing regions of the world. They will be hard pressed to just handle the entire US population (if that can be done) without any additional people from other regions.

Another problem is whether the natural world will adjust to climate change factors in those state. For example, Massachusetts is supposed to become like Florida by century’s end. Is that enough time for the evolving of the plants and animals around that state to new conditions?

Meanwhile I read this description and shudder at the ramifications for much of the rest of the world:

Weather experts at the United Nations just said that the highest April temperature ever may have just been recorded—an ominous sign that comes on the heels of the monthly average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hitting the highest level on the books.
Speaking to press at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Clare Nullis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) referenced the extreme heat in the Pakistani city of Nawabshah, which reportedly reached 50.2°C (122.36°F) on Monday.
“This is April—it’s not June or July—it’s April,” Nullis said Friday. “We don’t normally see temperatures above 50 degrees C. In fact, as far as we’re aware, we’ve never seen a temperature of above 50 degrees C in April.”
CO2 Levels Hit Record, April Temp Hits Record in Climate Change — by Andrea Germanos — May 6, 2018

Now consider: UN projects world population of 6.2 to 15.8 billion in 2100 with 10.1 billion in the next ninety years: May 4, 2011 – The UN has a new world population forecast out to 2100 The current world population of close to 7 billion is projected to reach 10.1 billion in the next ninety years, reaching 9.3 billion by the middle of this century, according to the medium variant of the 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects.

Furthermore much of the animal and plant diversity will disappear unless this matter, too, is addressed — displacement of the rest for ever more humans … and it needs to be quickly and meaningfully addressed across the entire world since the sixth great extinction is ALREADY underway. (A friend of mine, who hosted a dinner party on Friday, told me that lots of people would lose life in the 6th Great Extinction, she decided. She looked really glum and upset when telling me this.)

My conclusion is that we as a whole are simply not doing enough to prepare for the coming times ahead. Moreover anyone who thinks that many people who live with lots of extravagant privileges (such as vacation homes out of state, travel for holidays out of country and other ways to lavishly treat themselves) will have to realize that they have no intention of changing their own lifestyles until forced to do so by circumstances. Why would the wealthiest members of societies want to curtail their own copious pleasures? After all, life looks often mostly rosy from their vantage points and they don’t want lacks of luxuries.

In the end, the good news is that some of our plentiful US northern states can subsume many more people that will do fairly well by this century’s end. Alternately these states cannot take in everyone in peril from climate change and other factors. There’s the sad rub!

Sheshu Babu shares:

It is not just extreme weather conditions which are posing a major threat, but also ‘unseasonal ‘ extreme weather that is becoming more and more common. For example in South India, there were thunderstorms and rains in the middle of summer that destroyed mango crops. There was a dust storm across north India that killed many people and the Met office did not care to warn people initially and, when it did finally warn, the damage was already done.

Similarly, there are ‘extended’ snowfalls in US which people rarely expect and forest fires in some parts of Australia or central and South America. There are also cases of abnormal sea tides along the coasts.

Hence, the seasons are overlapping and becoming arbitrary and thereby predicting is becoming more difficult. We are living in a precarious atmosphere where weather prediction is becoming as inaccurate as astrology….!

Everyone should seriously think about these complex daunting problems. Before the start of industrialization, the natural resources were rarely disturbed. There were plenty of forests, fresh air, water and less polluted seas. The tribes, Adivasis, aborigines, etc., lived along with flora and fauna and wild life in the forests. The fisherfolk could go fishing without fear as they could almost accurately estimate the time when seas are likely to be rough.

But, as industries picked up, greed of people too started to rise rapidly. In their eagerness to amass profits and increase production, they began to plunder forests, cut trees, occupy coasts and build skyscrapers along the coasts, displace people on the pretext of ‘developing’ nuclear plants, etc. In short, a few tycoons with economic and political power began to ‘ control’ the environment and make it a ‘slave’ as are many slave-wage workers to their aims.

That is why, there are resistance movements in forest areas (like Chhattisgarh  in India) , in coastal areas (like in Kerala, India or in the south coast of Australia where the Adani group wanted to have its coal company), or the Amazon basin or Narmada river, or the Standing Rock Sioux movement to protect their hills and lands.

Unexpected and unpredictable, climatic changes including many earthquakes (i.e., ones related to fracking) are mostly man made. Especially the few elite corporates and industrialists constituting 1% with 99% wealth bring disasters. They care less for balance of climate and environment. They trample the earth and its beauty by overwhelming greed for their own personal wealth and sense of power.

It is these few oligarchs who must be controlled. The majority of people do not like to disturb Nature. The fact that deterioration of climate at a faster rate has begun relatively recently is an indication of haphazard growth of industries and contains madness, human madness, at the root. Otherwise, the decline would have started much earlier  – much prior to industrialization.

[In relation to Sheshu’s comments, I want to add two thoughts. One is that he mentioned to me previously that the fact that people are living longer and many of their children are thriving rather than dying young is adding to the population explosion. Secondarily, I think that the development of agriculture and animal husbandry largely brought the shift away from protection of the natural world into being.

Imagine the amount of species that declined or were killed off to bring a landmass the size of South America into being for human agriculture. Imagine that one the size of Africa was put in place for care of our domestic animals — a boon to our species, but certainly not much else.

Everyone tries to foster their own selves and the groups with which they identify. Yet we need to be more inclusive to have members outside of our groups and in other species more included in the mix or else we are all across the planet in deep peril. – S.D.]

Steve Salmony shares:

What could be causing this worldwide ecological devastation? The number of human beings on Earth was 2+ billion in the year of my birth (1945). In all of recorded human history there is no evidence to indicate that the human population was ever larger than it was then. Hundreds of thousands of years passed by without an incredible increase in absolute global human population numbers such as we have seen in one lifetime… in the past three score and ten years. During the past 70 years human numbers have increased by 5+ billion. There is only one question worth asking. Why have human numbers increased so rapidly in so short a period of time? The answer is simple. The spectacular capability of humankind to increase annual production and distribution of food for human consumption has given rise to the colossal growth of the human population in our planetary home.

One of the most significant unintended consequences of this bacterial-like growth of a mammalian species is the onset of the Anthropocene Era when The One Percent of Homo sapiens sapiens (self-named to signify ‘the wisest of wise’ species) became the momentary rulers of the world we inhabit. The skyrocketing increase of the human population on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth has given rise to a number of apparently unforeseen and exceedingly deleterious outcomes. Among these potentially catastrophic, human-driven results is climate destabilization. What is fortunately becoming relatively easy to see now here, as we observe what is happening through our naked eyeballs, is the manifold ways overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities of the human species are occurring synergistically and simultaneously threatening life as we know it, environmental health and future human well-being. The spectacular increase of these distinctly human, overgrowth activities is causing the unrestricted extirpation of global biodiversity, the relentless dissipation of limited natural resources, the unbridled degradation of the environment and the reckless threat to a good enough future for children everywhere.

 

Perfidiously, profanely, the masters of the universe among us have taken so much of what is regarded generally as “abnormal” in human behavior and cleverly normalized all of it. If only the world worked the way we want it to! That all-too-human creatures of Earth were actually self-proclaimed ‘masters of the universe’ in more ways than “name only.” By evading extant scientific knowledge about our distinctly human limits and the biophysical limitations of the planet we inhabit; by denying that Earth is relatively small and finite with a frangible environment;  by widely sharing and consensually validating utterly false, hubristic thinking regarding our seemingly god-like super-human capabilities and Earth as a maternal presence—-imagined as an eternally expressive teat, it may be that The One Percent is not able to evade the consequences of its patently unsustainable behavior. In that event, humankind can be expected to “reap the whirlwind.”

[In relation to Steve’s comments, I don’t just blame food for the spectacular increase in human population increase. There are other factors, too. Here are a few of them.

For example, micro-predators (diseases) and macro-predators (such as wolves and tigers) kept our populations down in the past. The former sorts have largely been controlled by drugs, other medical interventions while other means like guns can be used to get rid of large animal killers.

There is better distribution of food and other goods critical for survival, but it is not sufficient to stave off starvation across the globe. So it is not just food in the mix in my opinion. More impinges on the overall picture

Indeed, there are religious and cultural beliefs that support large families even in the face of daunting local scarcities in resources. For example, there are belief systems in place that prohibit birth control except for the rhythm method since it is up to God or gods to decide about whom should be born and to whom and when.

In addition, many people in certain societies equate having lots of children with male prowess and familial happiness. The thinking is: the more the merrier, especially when the wife or girlfriend is tasked with care of household and children, along with her sometimes having a paying job, too!

So where does such an orientation get us collectively? It leads to deprivation in basic, life supportive materials. And who is suppose to provide them for regions undergoing overshoot and collapse? Who is supposed to pay for the supplies being created, delivered and distributed? (For instance in South Sudan, huge cargo planes deliver food and cans of oil dropped by individual parachutes compliments of western nations, but still it is not enough food to feed everyone in this war-torn nation and why should equally impoverished people in western countries have to pay taxes to feel other impoverished people outside of their own countries?)

Oh, and let’s not forget the role of the wealthy people in terms of the overall situation. Many would much rather foster their own self-gratifying benefits than serve humanity and the eco-system as a whole.

A case in point is the $75,000 USD to $100,000 USD lavish wedding that I observed from a distance this weekend. Now I do know people, I myself included, who would have begged my parents to give the excess funds to charities serving the poor rather than to have such an over-the-top affair were I the bride.

Another illustration is that I know a bride’s maid for a fall wedding going to Iceland for a bride’s maid party this summer. How costly and self-gratifying is that instead of starkly looking at the larger picture of the world so as to make a less self-serving, expensive choice? (The same bride’s maid is going to Germany and Switzerland for three weeks in August with her husband and child.)

Apparently while humanity can exhibit much goodness, there is a deep flaw that our species also shows. It is that many people want whatever they want — whether ever more children or carbon-loading vacations — and aim to get them regardless of the consequences for everything and everyone else around them, including the ramifications for the people to be born in the future as the world deteriorates due to their present choices.

This present period will not be the first time. nor will it be the last, that the human population has been delimited by catastrophes, such as droughts and locust plagues. This curtailment has been happening since our kind has shown up on Earth. Indeed, the same sort of crunch has happened to other species, too, and has taken place since life first showed up on the planet. It is the way that evolution works …

REINDEER ON ST. MATTHEW ISLAND https://www.geo.arizona.edu/Antevs/nats104/00lect21reindeer.html by DR Klein – ‎Cited by 470 – ‎Related articles The pattern of reindeer population growth and die-off on St. Matthew Island has ….. appeared normal and brown spots, interpreted as scars of erupted follicles, …

However, it is the first time that a supposedly intelligent species caused widespread damage practically across the entire Earth due to very poor choices. How tragic that we can’t get over our myopic, self-centered wants!

All the same, we will likely prevail if we can show sufficient compassion for others — other people and other species — as we support them into our regions. In times ahead, it will certainly have to be done.]
Sheshu Babu is a writer from India. Sally Dugman and Steve Salmony are writers from the USA.

 

 

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