20 August 2009
I’ve been reading this book, The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, and I’ve been traveling along this interesting journey with Weisman. The premise of the book is that humans have left the planet, basically by extinction. Remove the humans from the planet and what happens? Nature takes back over the planet.
Weisman talks about how humans are constantly repressing nature. He gives the example of weeds breaking up concrete sidewalks in the cities, tree roots taking over houses, and underground rivers taking over subway lines. We, as humans, are constantly cutting trees, pruning weeds or pumping away water just to keep nature back and to continue with our daily lives.
Throughout the whole book, Weisman writes about what life was like on earth without humans, and what it will be like without humans once again.
This led me to think about what the reasoning is behind our move towards global, environmental sustainability and change. Is it to take care of the earth or is it to take care of humans? Are we doing this all in self-interest, self-preservation? Or are we concerned about the animals and plants dying daily?
As the planet dies around us, humans are dying as well. We’re going to face a breaking point when the population reaches a maximum where the earth will no longer be able to sustain the amount of humans on this earth. At that point, the immense consumption of humans is going to hit a wall, and there’s going to be an immediate need for food and water.
Scientists claim that when the population reaches more than 10 billion people, the earth can sustain no more added human life, in terms of population growth. This means, based on Charles Darwin’s natural selection and the survival of the fittest, there’s going to be some catastrophe to or within the human race that will try to wipe out a segment of the population.
It’s considered scientific fact that when a population (i.e. humans) reaches carrying capacity and there are limited resources for a population, a battle begins for survival.
I think it’s easy, sometimes, to forget that we are a part of this world and depend on it rather than it owing us something and depending on us. After all, we are just advanced animals on the planet. Just because we’re the wisest of them all doesn’t mean that we can bypass the need for food and water and habitats.
It’s very interesting to wonder about how our human kind will adapt. Will we use our intellect and technology to figure out a way to trick nature into yielding more than is intended? Genetically engineered crops could be our food source in one hundred or two hundred years. Or, will we revert back to a more simplistic lifestyle that uses fewer resources and maximizes the use of those resources?
Who’s to know, really, until we get closer to the time. There are hundreds of estimates and theories about what will happen to us within the next 100 years to the next 100,000 years. It’s speculative because there are unknown factors that may play a part that we may or may not be aware of just yet. Humans could move in the direction of a complete change where they’re able to maintain life while maximizing the use of local resources. We can cut our consumption down and eat and use only what’s necessary. Or, we could keep going at this rate and see what sort of catastrophic change the human race is bound to encounter if we continue on our present course.
There’s no reason to despair, just yet. There is so much we can do to change our behavior and to contribute one of those unknown factors to the future of the human race.
The first step is education, the next action, and the final overhauling change. Step by step, we’ll see the progress of our changes.
6 thoughts on “Mo’ people, mo’ problems…life of a human”
You are on a logical path which many of us in the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement have taken. When compassion guides us on our way, we realize the best gift we can offer planet and humanity is zero offspring. Or, no more than we’ve already produced at least.
We can’t tell what the future holds in store, as you noted. However, we can see what has happened to civilizations of the past when they exceeded the carrying capacity of their environments. When 99% end in collapse, we might assume we are headed in the same direction. It’s global this time.
We don’t have to wait until we reach 10 billion members in our human family to hit the wall: already tens of thousands of children die on an average day from a lack of care and we are warring over resources like oil and water.
Each of us may be a small part of the whole, but our reproductive choices are very important to all life, including the non-existent offspring who would be better off remaining that way.
Thank you for not breeding.
Sustainability is definitely about self-preservation and for good reason — it’s the only way to get action out of a meaningful contingent of the population. So, I’m all for being selfish in that respect.
Some very interesting thoughts here. Thanks for sharing.
Let’s abolish the monetary system, pillage corporate farms, take their resources, spread more evenly over the continent, and go agrarian…
O wait, now that I think about the implications… I still want to live by the coast, and I don’t want to learn how to farm, and I just got a promotion that’s going to let me take that vacation to the Bahamas I’ve been wanting to go on, so let’s just keep things the way they are and hope that scientists are overestimating the consequences of human expansion. Maybe I’ll get to live my own life without suffering any consequences and they can all be left to my children and grandchildren. They will have the technology to deal more adequately with these problems.
Nature is stronger than we are. We may move faster than it does, but it moves with inevitable and unlimited power. I think homeostasis should be the goal.
In response to Les U. How can it be better for a non-existent offspring to not be born? If a thing does not exist there can be no better or worse for it. “It” is nothing. There is no such thing as a non-existent offspring. Yes, negative population growth would be ideal at this point, but not having any children will not help as much as having a child or two children that will be well-educated in the relevance of these issues we are discussing.
Let’s not dehumanize ourselves in the process of immense adjustment.
Thank you guys for posting!
Les U – I think it’s important that people realize the massive impact we have on the eco-systems of the earth and the way we destroy things so readily without pause. I also agree that we are inevitability heading down the wrong road towards the future.
I think that the more popular response to our overwhelming population growth is that people should have smaller families, adopt more, or just replace themselves (i.e. Two parents have two children). While I don’t think that China’s policy is the best or most easily understood method, I do think they have the right idea in mind. I think that there should be a more pronounced government incentive to have smaller families, such as tax credits. Although that’s unfavorable to have the government involved, it does offer a more powerful reason that people will accept, rather than “It’s the right thing to do.”
Thanks for your thoughts!
Yes, naturally we’re all selfish because we need to take care of ourselves in the world. We just need to not be so greedy in some aspects. It seems like nowadays we always want more, more, more – the newest phone, computer, iPod, car, etc. What’s wrong with the old ones that work but on a slightly less attractive level?
I guess we should just remember that in order to become sustainable there must be some sort of sacrifice, small or large, that helps us move in that direction. But, that doesn’t mean giving up everything. Just changing one habit can do a world of good!
And definitely, selfishness gets action out of the majority of people. Sad to hear, but it’s human nature. After all, if we were all altruistic, we probably wouldn’t have existed as long as we have! Thanks, Shane!
Great idea with having homeostasis in our population. There has to be an equilibrium, but it can’t be at the level we’re operating now. We have to use less and give back an equal amount so that we can balance out in the world. Then, we should keep it even 🙂
I think if people change habits, little by little, there will start to be a change in our interaction. But, like I’ve said, you’ve got to take that first step!
Thanks everyone, take care!