(Editor’s Note: The following Letter to the Editors constitutes an unsolicited commentary. NonDoc runs Letters to the Editors up to about 250 words and reserves the right to edit lightly for length, style and grammar. To submit a letter for publication, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Mankind is unsustainable.
Consider our overpopulation. We need to reduce our population to a level that is sustainable. The current estimate is 2 billion people can be sustained at the living level of Europeans. That number should be contrasted with our current population of 7 billion and a projected 9 billion by 2040. Our other unsustainable practices must be addressed in order to have time to humanely effect the reduction.
Overpopulation naturally leads to unsustainability in so many areas. In fact, our bigger problems are directly made more severe by our current population.
Climate change is one example. We are converting stored carbon into carbon dioxide much faster than it is converted into a non-greenhouse form. The amount of energy we now obtain from burning fossil fuels is so necessary for our economies and lifestyles. That energy could be supplied by sources such as those driven by wind and sunlight that do not produce carbon dioxide. So far, there has been no agreement to really do what is required to convert to nonpolluting energy sources.
Water is fast-becoming another major problem. We are depleting many of our aquifers much faster than they are replenished. A large amount of this consumption goes to agriculture that will be severely limited when the aquifers are depleted. Even the amount of surface water in many areas is no longer adequate. Conservation efforts to date are mainly short-gap interventions and long-term solutions are required.
The loss of species is troubling per se, but it is also directly harmful to humans. Life is interwoven in a complicated web, and the consequences of poking holes in this web may even be devastating to mankind. We are responsible for this loss of biodiversity in many ways but primarily through converting more and more habitat to our use, which is incompatible with the native species. Our efforts to save some endangered species are woefully inadequate as for what is needed to stop the extinctions.
We do not have to perish. People that have studied these problems in detail have solutions. Our delay in initiating the work required to accomplish the solutions has brought each problem to a crisis, and all will require a global effort, starting now.
Unfortunately, even here in America, our legislature will not act because a number of the members believe these crises are not real, or are not our fault, or they will work out alright. To motivate mankind to act is our biggest problem. Even when Pope Francis was chiding our legislature for failing to act, he did not address the major problem of overpopulation. Be there a god, rest assured, he did not give us our brain and expect us to diddle around waiting to have him come save us from our mess.
We need to act now. Will we?