|Surf's Up, Indonesia
Despite claims that, with just a bit more efficiency, we can grow our species to nine, perhaps even twelve billion, there are already far too many of us attacking, devouring and contaminating our biosphere. It is unsurvivable.
|The Slums of Mexico City
Even as our numbers have soared three-fold in less than a century, so has the average amount of stuff each of us consumes. Since WWII, the populations of both China and India have added a billion mouths. It's hard to believe that, at the end of that war, their populations were smaller than that of the USA today. First they grew to gigantic proportions and then they became emerging economic superpowers, both stimulating their own huge "consumer class" that wanted bigger and better this and that - cars, housing, food, travel - pretty much the same things we've enjoyed all along and pretty much all of it based on ever greater consumption of fossil fuels. A car in every garage and a prime rib roast on every table.
|A Valley of Greenhouses, Spain
Which triggers the final O, Overshoot. This is where mankind begins to run into walls. Overshoot is a condition where consumption has outstripped our planet's ability to support demand. It causes us to do some incredibly stupid things and it leads to a variety of outcomes including collapse. That is the course our leaders have charted for our children and grandchildren - collapse. It's not just Harper who is devoted to this outcome. So too are Justin Trudeau and Tommy Mulcair. They have no interest in abandoning perpetual, exponential growth.
One example of Overshoot is the rapacious destruction of our very finite groundwater resources, our aquifers, mainly for agricultural irrigation. To grow our population and meet its soaring demands for ever more of everything, we became hopelessly dependent, mortally dependent, on using far more than nature can provide which is why around the world these underground reservoirs are approaching empty and no one has a clue how we'll cope when they're gone.
Other visible telltale signs of overshoot are spreading deforestation, desertification (the exhaustion of once arable land through excessive production using unsustainable amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides), and the collapse of global fisheries as the industrial fleets fish "down the food chain."
|Most of that Oil Still Lurks in the Gulf of Mexico
Another aspect of Overshoot manifests in our growing pollution problem. Nature does a terrific job of absorbing and cleansing our waste but that capacity is also finite. We've passed it and so the excess simply backs up. There's plenty of that going on and we don't seem to care.
It's so typically human of me to discuss the Three O's in the context of the lethal threat to mankind. That overlooks what we have done to nature, wildlife, our ecosystems.
|China. No space for nature, no room for life.
The 2014 Living Planet Report revealed that in the 40-years since Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney ushered in the Age of Neoliberalism, we have eliminated half - that's right, half - of the wild life on our planet. It came out, made a bit of a stir and, within a week, was straight down the Memory Hole. We're now experiencing rates of extinction several hundreds of times greater than normal and we simply will not recognize the threat to our own survival. We don't understand that those seemingly insignificant life forms, those minor species, are integral to our own continuation. We don't get it and we don't care.
The photos used here are from a terrific photo-essay in The Guardian. Do check it out. Many thanks to Ray Smith for sending me the link.