|Quoting Galapagapop (Reply 17):|
We may have SUV's and lots and lots of factories, but they are held to a standard, this standard doesn't exist in lots of the world
Sadly there is no need for the same standards in third world countries who infact make these vehicles because they cannot afford to buy them.
I've been doing a lot of sociological research into this issue, and recently wrote this article which puts everything in it's place.
To put it into a basic idea, humanity is slowly destroying the Earth while we use up all of its resources. Sustainability is really the key issue we must look at when investigating man kind’s current role on this planet. Our marine environments are slowly being destroyed and over fished while everyday less and less fish swim in their waters. A big concern here is how we are interrupting their food chain in a drastic way. An example is that of the Urchin and Sea Otter. The Otter was over hunted and thus went the Urchins predator and with that came an explosion in their population. Now because there are most Urchins, there is a new need for more Duck Weed to feed them and came a decline in the Duck Weed of that part of the Ocean and you can see how it just continues to affect everyone down the line. Food, fiber and timber are also another important issue to address. The amount we are consuming for our ever growing homes and extravagant meals is coming very close to hitting an ecological wall. We are eating way to high in the food chain way to often to justify our needs. The amount of grain calories in order to make one kilogram of meet is just astronomical when we could have just consumed the grain, once again you can see why we should begin to think about sustainability. Lastly we must look at the water we are using. Less than one percent of the water we use is renewable. The water we waste and have to re-purify is a huge waste of energy. As well, we tend to pollute a lot of the water that surrounds us, making it unusable. Lastly with our increased consumption, comes the fact that we must draw more water from ever shallowing water sources to grow and feed our future food. Our population is growing on what can only be described as an exponential curve of disaster. Carrying capacity is the total number of individuals a given environment can sustainably support. In this case the environment is Earth, and we have yet to hit the ceiling yet, but the main issue here is we don’t seem to be concerned. Governments really need to unite and start thinking of ways to control their populations. If nothing is done, there will come a point when our worldwide population will hit capacity and most likely overshoot it as well. With this overshoot will come a few years of dwindling resources and what we refer to as dieback. Sadly this is the point where millions begin to die due to lack of resources, primarily in the poorer nations first, until Earth levels off at her carrying capacity. It’s something that really is not being taken seriously by enough governments at this point. Take for example The Republic of China, which limits their families to only having one child. At first I thought this was a ridiculous idea, but as I researched and dove more into the topic of carrying capacity and overpopulation, it made perfect sense. We as a species are using way too much of what the Earth has to offer. The sun is indirectly the largest contributor to biomass on Earth, and humans are using well over 50% of the available biomass. With that being said, what about the millions of other species on this planet? This is a main reason why three species go extinct a day. Another way to look at the distribution of resources worldwide is to look at our ecological footprint. Simply defined, it is the amount of land (in hectares) that one person would need to live their current life off of (food, cattle, water etc). The equation I=P x A x T (where I=ecological footprint, P=Affluence, A=Consumption per capita, and T=technological level) gives us an idea of where we stand in comparison to the rest of the world. I believe that North American’s footprint is equal to 60 African’s footprints, which is just an alarming number. Not only is this highly unequal, but the only reason why it is like this is because North America is a wealthier part of the world. This is not right, and the distribution of resources should be carefully thought out and spread fairly around the world. The fact that we are using up more and more non-renewable resources by the day when in the big picture of things we’re really not doing a lot of planning for the future and alternatives is just plain out absent minded.
The idea of ecological debt can be explained best in terms of money. Take for example $1000 (“The Earth”) in a bank account earning interest (“sustainable resources”). Now if we start spending past our interest into our capital, the next interest period will be less, and if you continue on this path you eventually will end off with no money left. The same can be said about our earth and the amount of renewable resources we use every year. Say if we cut down more trees in one year than the Earth can produce to cover that number, we are cutting into the capital of the Earth. Right now our population is working on 1.2 Earths, so we’re using .2 of our capital at this point, and we’re slowly eating away at our planet. Ecological debt is the idea that we must reduce the amount of resources we use in order to get our Earth back to her original “capital” and is measured in Planet Years. There are fourth paths that are listed in the Living Planet Report of 2004. The Slow Growth path really only slows us down a bit, or what will hopefully be enough time for us to realize that we must adopt one of the following three reduction phases or how to fix this problem with science and technology. If we were to allow this path to take place, we would hit around 40 planet years around 2050 with the continuation of debt ongoing. The second reduction idea is the 50% one. Projections show that we would reduce our footprint by 2030 with a total ecological debt of only 3.5 planet years. The third reduction would be the 67% idea, which would have our footprint level off around the year 2050 with a debt of 6 planet years. Lastly, the 88% idea forecasts that we would be leveling off our footprint at around 2100 with a debt of 20 planet years. The best answer to our problem is the 50% path in the ways of the most drastic action. This is easier said then done. Reducing any of our current ways would mean drastic shifts in the global economy. For example, our desire of exotic fruits and vegetables employees’ thousands of farmers, processors, truck drivers, pilots and grocery store employees which most of the time start off on the other side of the world. If we were to reduce the amount of automobiles we purchase and use, you can already see the decline in the oil market and automobile production plants. Thousands of skilled workers would be out of jobs, and would require training to fill the new void of employment with our new look on life. You can start to see how it is almost nearly impossible to get this done with most of today’s democratic governments. If earth is to survive we must protect our remaining ecosystems so that they may flourish, lower our total world population, reduce our ecological footprint and streamline the efficiency of our goods and services sector.
The issues of population size and levels of consumption really run hand in hand in our struggle to gain control of our world. To start off, the global population is growing at a staggering exponential rate and without a doubt will hit the carrying capacity of Earth. It is a proven scientific fact that the Earth can only support a certain number of people and to continue our current growth patterns is absurd. The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is a group of individuals who basically want the human race to simple stop reproducing and to fizzle out of the world. This in fact would save millions of species from extinction caused by our greedy ways as a dominating species. Why anyone would want to do this certainly raises the question of sanity, but scientifically it would be the most intelligent way of action. To convince the entire world about their cause would simply be impossible with all of today’s religions and followings so we must look for alternatives. I believe in order to reduce our numbers we must find a way to limit the amount of kids we have, a lot like what China did. Child credits which could be sold exchanged would definitely bring our population under control in a civilized way. We must bring ourselves to understand that the days of having 2 or 3 child families are over. We seem to be getting a grip on reducing our levels of consumption, as we have seen with the introduction of various hybrid automobiles and the exploration of alternative energy forms. Many cities now have recycling programs which save millions of hectares of ecological footprints a year. While we are on a good path to success, it is only the beginning. We have to reduce the amount of high food chain items we consume and where they come from. Water is also a huge factor in this struggle. No one leads the pack in water conservation more than the city of Las Vegas. Not only are they in the middle of a desert and use a lot of water just to stay alive but they also have one of the strictest water bi-law systems in the world. The hotels with their extravagant fountains use recycled gray water rather than fresh water that will just be wasted through evaporation under the Nevada sun. On top of that, the residence of the city must adhere to various laws, which include not watering your lawn in the middle of the day, not having private fountains in your yard and making sure none of your pipes are leaking. Yet again we see another step in the right direct of conservation. We need to get the entire world on with us though, resources don’t adhere to boundaries and thus it’s all for one and one for all. So once we get our population growth under control we have to look at ways to conserve energy and become more local rather than international. The idea of Ecocities is amazing. Ecocities with only foot and bicycle traffic eliminates the need for most automobiles and the need for oil which produces millions of tons of pollution including carbon a year. This would also free up a lot more farm land to grow things locally that surround the city which in turn wouldn’t require a lot of energy to get to our dinner tables. So really the key thing at this point in our declining world is education. We need to educate the public rather than have a few select groups lobbying the governments for change and what not. Concerning population size, we really need to have some drastic government intervention without all of this voting and process garbage that would takes years and hit many economical road blocks. Because as mentioned above, the Earth is doomed if we don’t do anything. The idea that “technology will save us” is only a dream of many politicians and something must be done within the next upcoming generation of people or else we are finished.
The Living Planet Report 2004
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