I arrived on the scene in 1944 when there were just over 2 billion people on this planet. According to infoplease.com we reached the 2 billion milestone in 1927 and passed 3 billion in 1950 so I’m approximating, after all, we’re not splitting a dinner check.
From what I read, we’re on the cusp of passing the 7 billion milestone in October of this year. (The lucky 7 billionth child gets free sandwiches from Subway for a full thirty days – less shipping and handling.)
What this means, aside from the brutally depressing fact that I am likely older than 5 billion people, or 65% of the population, I don’t know, but I’m fairly certain that continued growth at this rate will not usher in a golden age of plenty, abundant crops at lower prices, free rides for the kiddies, a wild explosion in the number of carpool lanes and cleaner air and water.
Not so, according to a column, “Population Boom” at the Boston Globe this morning. The writer set me off with his subhead, “More people leads to more prosperity.” That sounds like a slogan from the turn of the century Robber Barons celebrating the new industrial age, the rapid influx of cheap immigrant labor, and higher rents for fire trap tenement buildings.
The ability of technology and industrial society to conjure ways to feed, clothe, shelter and keep an ever growing, more densely concentrated population on a planet with diminishing resources from slitting each other’s throats is not discussed in the article. I think I’d avoid it as well.
If we’ve learned nothing from the mayhem of the last century with its constant conflict over resources, its terrible wars, droughts, famines, epidemics and economic depressions we should have learned that more people at the party will not reduce the noise level and no amount of religious or ideological wishful thinking will make it so.
We are on the brink of destroying the world’s oceans and waterways with the byproducts of the lifestyles we’ve developed since the dawn of the industrial age. We face the very real threat of massive water shortages, a more immediate threat of running out of the fuel that has driven this growth and the likelihood that our air will be so filled with pollutants from our own activities that it will require chewing rather than breathing.
The more the merrier may be a joyous concept to a mine owner looking for dirt cheap labor to strip away a mountaintop, and more people may mean prosperity and happy days for the few who benefit from the outstretched hands, parched throats and empty bellies of the impoverished but there comes a point when the party loses its glamor down in the hood.
While I can’t offer a solution to the problem of rapid population growth other than education and birth control, for the billion or so people who are already fighting for arable land and potable water, for adequate housing, light, heat, breathable air, a view of a horizon that includes gainful employment and human dignity, time is running out and the worship of expanding markets and easily exploitable labor is no help at all.
Originally posted at Clean Technica: Population? Stack’em Up, The More The Merrier
Illustration: Kollwitz, The Propeller
Having shown over the last seven months, since taking control of the legislative branch that they are at least equal to the Republicans when it comes to avarice, the Democrats set out this past weekend to demonstrate that, when it comes to cowardice, to blatant, unmitigated, ass covering politics they are every bit a match for Republicans.
Who impeaches the Congress? What in our Constitution protects the citizens of this country from a completely rogue government? When all three branches have abrogated their constitutional obligations, who will stand up for, who will represent the people of the United States?
Where must we search, to whom do we go for protection from the power of the wealthy corporate classes who are stealing our wealth, our livelihoods, and our future, who are spitting on our laws and our history as they sacrifice our Children and Grandchildren on the profane altar of their greed, in their eternal wars for profit and power?
Where is the opposition? Where do we go for redress of grievances when every institution of government is in the hands of the enemies of the people?
After suffering through five long years of watching a rogue executive blow it’s nose on the American Constitution and wipe it’s feet on our laws and bill of rights, it was with some relief and a glimmer of hope that I watched the election results last November as the Democratic party was returned to control of the legislative branch of the federal government. The pendulum is returning to the center I told myself, surely it will soon move to the left and show benefits to the working people of this country again.
If you could gather one hundred or so of the best minds on the planet and serve them a list of questions compiled from “ordinary people” all over the world what might you expect from such a gathering?
We may find out soon because according to the emails I’ve been receiving from a group called “dropping knowledge” just such a meeting is in the works:
On September 9, 2006, 112 scientists, social entrepreneurs, philosophers, writers, artists and activists from around the world will come together in Berlin, Germany, as guests of dropping knowledge. Seated around a vast round-table in the heart of the city, these remarkable individuals, renowned for the creative, social and humanistic impact of their work, will engage with 100 questions from the global public. These questions, selected by dropping knowledge’s founders and ambassadors from the many thousands generated by our “What’s Your Question?” campaign, will reflect the topics of greatest concern to the global public, emphasize under-reported issues and engage key themes endorsed by dropping knowledge in 2006.