Friday, January 13, 2012

Protect the planet


Recently, the 7 billionth person was born into this world. Almost certainly, she is going to want her piece of the limited resources the West has been consuming like there is no tomorrow

We moderns have successfully convinced ourselves that we can always exploit more, dig more, drill more and depend on new technology to save us from having to face issues that seriously challenge the way we live. Whether humanity has the wisdom and political will to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the future, however, is now clearly up for grabs

Political economist Thomas Malthus discovered 250 years ago that resources, largely food, grow arithmetically while population grows geometrically, inevitably leading to a significant decline in overall standards of living and the collapse of populations through disasters. For Malthus, and many who have followed in his footsteps, the most appealing solution is to blame someone. And who is better to blame than the poor.

As much as we might try to avoid seeing it, the ever-increasing number of humans, rich and poor alike, is putting more and more strain on our world. Global man-made climate change is producing wild swings in weather patterns with larger tornadoes and more powerful hurricanes. The ice cap is melting. Potable water is becoming more precious than oil in many parts of the world.

Protecting and sustaining our planet for future generations will require us to replace blame with shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. We will need to change how we look at our world, to give up the cherished view that bigger is always better, if we hope to avoid the dire consequences that Malthus predicted.




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