By Frosty Wooldridge
Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendall said, “If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity – and will leave a ravaged world.”
What did he mean by that rather abrupt if not deadly statement? How can one of the few human beings on the planet who earned a Nobel Prize come to such a deliberate understanding? Why don’t more humans recognize the same reality facing humanity in the 21st century?
As a world bicycle traveler across six continents, I witnessed firsthand with my own eyes what Dr. Kendall expresses in his statement. One look at China and India gives you an idea of the consequences of “exponential growth” at its end-most destination. Even worse, Bangladesh houses 157 million people in a landmass the size of Ohio. Can you imagine half the US population living in Ohio? Can you imagine the ecological damage as to shortages of drinkable water, sewage pollution, carbon emission exhausts, growing food to fill the bellies of those 157 million impoverished bodies, not to mention human crowding and loss of any quality of life?
Kendall talks about halting population growth with “compassion and justice.” What does that mean? Answer: it means humans need to take their fecundity rates into their own hands and provide for birth control that brings human populations into balance with the carrying capacity of the planet. Exponential growth cannot and will not be tolerated by Mother Nature. She already starves to death over 10 million children annually and another eight million adults. That’s the “…will be done by nature, brutally and without pity…” aspect of Dr. Kendall’s statement.
What constitutes exponential growth? The term means: endless growth of any organism. That growth ultimately results in overwhelming the carrying capacity of area in which it thrives and finally, collapse and possible extinction of that species.
As it stands today, according to UK Oxford University’s Norman Myers, human encroachment upon worldwide habitat causes the extinction of 80 to 100 species daily. That means those creatures no longer exist because humanity overwhelms its own carrying capacity and destroys the food, water and living area for other species. Thus, humanity creates the most dangerous aspect of Mother Nature’s “carrying capacity” limits. The current rate of extinction within the United States runs at 250 creatures annually. (Source: U.S. Department of Interior)
Collapsed civilizations litter history books: Easter Island, Mayan Empire, Incas, Anasazi, Vikings, Rwanda, Haiti and more to come. Read Jared Diamond’s: Collapse—How societies choose to fail or succeed.
Those civilizations collapsed via exhaustion of food or water, i.e. they overwhelmed their carrying capacity.
Today, nearly all of humanity overrides its carrying capacity in oil-driven and oil-fed countries. Without oil, the United States could not exist with its 315 million inhabitants. Without the gasoline-filled tractors planting and harvesting enormous amounts of food, we could not feed the current number of people in the USA.
Noted geologist Walter Youngquist said, “This is going to be an interesting decade, for the perfect storm is brewing—energy, immigration and oil imports. China grows in direct confrontation for remaining oil. I think the USA is on a big, slippery downhill slope. Will the thin veneer of civilization survive?”
Youngquist continued, “Beyond oil, population is the number one problem of the 21st century, for when oil is gone as we know and use it today—and it WILL be gone—population will still be here.”
He states the obvious. Today, accelerating from 7.1 billion humans, our species will grow to 10.1 billion hungry people by mid-century. Unfortunately, by 2050, humans will have used up most of the oil on the planet. Our current rate of 84 million barrels per day pales in comparison of the predicted usage by China by 2030 of 98 million barrels per day. With the added 3.1 billion humans, oil usage will grow to over 200 million barrels burned daily. The carbon footprint havoc on our biosphere and oceans will prove cataclysmic. (Source: The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler)
When you look back on history’s ragged mane, those collapsed civilizations passed into oblivion without much fanfare. But with major cities like Los Angeles sporting 12 million; New York City with 19 million; Mexico City with 19 million; Bombay with 20 million; Sao Paulo with 20 million; Delhi with 22 million; Tokyo featuring a staggering 36 million and all the other overloaded cities around the world—it becomes obvious that humanity cannot exist without oil—but oil will soon vanish. Unfortunately, nothing on technology’s horizon can duplicate the energy we receive from oil. To say it’s going to get ugly with that many people bunched up in those cities may be the understatement of the 21st century.
At the end of Kendall’s statement, he said, “…and will leave a ravaged world.” You may appreciate the “Seven wonders of the world” created by human beings. Glorious triumphs of architecture and human engineering! However, we could add the “Seven tragedies of the world” created by humans such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Sixth Extinction Session, Overly polluted Biosphere, Acidified and Destroyed Oceans, Acid Rain Phenomenon, Destruction of Worldwide Rainforests, Human Misery Index and more to come.
We may prove ourselves a clever species, but none too smart. None too reasoning. None too rational. None too proactive.
Can America lead the world in this quest for a sustainable future? Can it change its course from its current overload of 315 million on its way to 625 million within this century and probably on toward 1 billion in the first part of the 22nd century?
As Dr.Kendall stated, “If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity – and will leave a ravaged world.”
We need to get busy in order to provide a livable world for all creatures, including ourselves.
Frosty Wooldridge is a Population-Immigration-Environmental specialist: speaker at colleges, civic clubs, high schools and conferences. Facebook: Frosty Wooldridge. Facebook Adventure Page: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World. Www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com. www.frostywooldridge.com.