The late and immortal George Carlin once postulated using a unique Gaian perspective, that the earth allowed human evolution because it had no other way to make plastic. God help us if that’s the truth because I think the earth may have all the plastic it needs and then, it will have no need for us. Remember, everything on earth gets recycled, even us. Mountains get blown down by wind, earth gets ground under in tectonic motion, rain goes to land, to river, to ocean and back to the sky. Human beings need to develope the realization that we, not the earth are the temporary thing here.
It strikes me as funny that given the self-centered nature of the human race that when it comes to environmental impacts that we have adopted the tag line save the earth. I mean come on folks, it should be save the humans! Or much more bluntly save our ass. Of course those of us who dabble in the sciences, particularly ecology have a deep understanding that all things are connected. Saving the whales was not really about saving the whales folks it was about saving a keystone species in oceanic ecosystems that we depend on for a major part of our food supply.
This brings me to today’s point friends, the end is near, or is it? There is a fundamental concept in ecology, it is called carrying capacity. Simply, this is the assessment of how many of any given organism can live healthily in a system. So maybe a thought just hit you, what is the carrying capacity of the earth? That question is just a tad incomplete, carrying capacity is specific for each species, so the real question is what is the carrying capacity for humans on the earth. The frightening thing is that the estimates range from 1 billion to 20 billion with the majority of scientists falling into the 10 – 15 billion range. However, something unique to humans is that we can have a varying human footprint, or environmental impact. That footprint can be very small, like that of a lightly populated nonindustrialized culture to the heavy footprint we have here in the USA. So, as the third world becomes increasingly developed their footprint increases and the overall carrying capacity of the earth for humans decreases.
Two solutions loom, both seemingly wholly unpalatable to people in general and Americans in particular. Solution one reduce the population and that means either stop having babies or get rid of the some of the current population, did I sayslaughter politely enough? Solution two is reduce our footprint here in the US and globally and that folks is not something Americans are game for doing. We seem to feel entitled to a standard of living that is completely unsustainable as if it has been granted by God. I guess that’s what we mean on our money when we say in God we trust. However, in time, this trust in God may lead to us being crushed by Gaia, so let’s drop the save the earth bit folks, SAVE OUR ASS!