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Speeding Toward Stop
Sign Without Breaks

By Frosty Wooldridge
Americans, led by their indolent politicians, step on the population gas pedal at full bore into the 21st century without a map, route, plan or clue as to how they will solve their own accelerating human population numbers.
In excess of 150 million Americans live and breathe toxic air in overloaded cities. They grind their way through gridlocked traffic five days a week. They kill 44,000 fellow citizens annually in car accidents from clogged highways. Their rivers run with chemicals, fertilizers, herbicides, sewage and other contaminants enough to create 10,000 square mile dead zones where they empty into our oceans. They suffer water shortages so much so, that they completely deplete the Colorado River before it reaches the Pacific. Americans use so many chemicals to grow food; their acidified soils become more unhealthy and toxic to angleworms and nitro-fixing bacteria with each passing year.
Those chemicals in the air, soil and water create millions of cancer deaths annually around the world. Yet, no one advocates banning the contamination of this planet for future generations or the welfare of all other life on Earth.
All the while, humans burn through non-renewable resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals and metals as if there were no tomorrow. While every scientific indicator shows human activity destabilizing Earth's climate-leaders admonish citizens to change their lights to the curly-cue mercury energy saving lights-as if THAT will solve our dilemma.
While American citizens suffer 15 million unemployed and 35 million subsisting on food stamps as well as 13.4 million Americans living in poverty-our U.S. Congress imports 160,000 foreign workers into this country every 30 days, month in and month out, year in and year out. All total, the U.S. adds 3.1 million more humans, net gain, annually on its way to adding 100 million people by 2035.
While that certain insanity continues, not one congressional member, media outlet or environmental organization addresses the obvious: we exhaust Earth's ability to mitigate our presence on this planet. Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report dance around the population issue like a mouse trying to escape a hawk. Charlie Rose, 60 Minutes, Matt Lauer, Diane Sawyer, Harry Smith, Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, Wolf Blitzer and others avoid it at all costs. Yes, they report its mounting consequences, but they won't touch overpopulation growth.
Bryan Walsh, Time reporter, September 23, 2009, wrote a sobering column, "How much human activity can earth handle?" But nowhere in his piece did he address the population connection!
Walsh said, "The scientific name is the Holocene Age, but climatologists like to call our current climatic phase the Long Summer. The history of Earth's climate has rarely been smooth. From the moment life began on the planet billions of years ago, the climate has swung drastically and often abruptly from one state to another - from tropical swamp to frozen ice age. Over the past 10,000 years, however, the climate has remained remarkably stable by historical standards: not too warm and not too cold, or Goldilocks weather. That stability has allowed Homo sapiens, numbering perhaps just a few million at the dawn of the Holocene, to thrive; farming has taken hold and civilizations have arisen. Without the Long Summer, that never would have been possible."
It's all related
"But as human population has exploded over the past few thousand years, the delicate ecological balance that kept the Long Summer going has become threatened," Walsh said. "The rise of industrialized agriculture has thrown off Earth's natural nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, leading to pollution on land and water, while our fossil-fuel addiction has moved billions of tons of carbon from the land into the atmosphere, heating the climate ever more.
"Now a new article in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature says the safe climatic limits in which humanity has blossomed are more vulnerable than ever and that unless we recognize our planetary boundaries and stay within them, we risk total catastrophe. "Human activities have reached a level that could damage the systems that keep Earth in the desirable Holocene state," writes Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Environmental Institute and the author of the article. "The result could be irreversible and, in some cases, abrupt environmental change, leading to a state less conducive to human development."
While we multiply our numbers, we degrade our planet-home. But you won't see any meaningful attention to the root causes!
"Regarding climate change, for instance, Rockstrom proposes an atmospheric-carbon-concentration limit of no more than 350 parts per million - meaning no more than 350 atoms of carbon for every million atoms of air. Before the industrial age, levels were at 280 p.p.m.; currently they're at 387 p.p.m. and rising. That, scientists believe, should be enough to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which should be safely below a climatic tipping point that could lead to the wide-scale melting of polar ice sheets, swamping coastal cities. "Transgressing these boundaries will increase the risk of irreversible climate change," writes Rockstrom.
"That's the impact of breaching only one of nine planetary boundaries that Rockstrom identifies in the paper," Walsh said. "Other boundaries involve freshwater overuse, the global agricultural cycle and ozone loss. In each case, he scans the state of science to find ecological limits that we can't violate, lest we risk passing a tipping point that could throw the planet out of whack for human beings. It's based on a theory that ecological change occurs not so much cumulatively, but suddenly, after invisible thresholds have been reached. Stay within the lines, and we might just be all right."
"In three of the nine cases Rockstrom has pointed out, however - climate change, the nitrogen cycle and species loss - we've already passed his threshold limits. In the case of global warming, we haven't yet felt the full effects, Rockstrom says, because carbon acts gradually on the climate - but once warming starts, it may prove hard to stop unless we reduce emissions sharply. Ditto for the nitrogen cycle, where industrialized agriculture already has humanity pouring more chemicals into the land and oceans than the planet can process, and for wildlife loss, where we risk biological collapse. "We can say with some confidence that Earth cannot sustain the current rate of loss without significant erosion of ecosystem resilience," says Rockstrom.
Walsh said, "Rockstrom's work delineates the limits to human growth - economically, demographically, ecologically - that we transgress at our peril."
"Ongoing changes in global chemistry should alarm us about threats to the persistence of life on Earth, whether or not we cross a catastrophic threshold any time soon," writes William Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, in a commentary accompanying the Nature paper.
I encourage you, fellow citizen, to take action, to push this issue toward the front burner. If you don't, as you look out across the political landscape, who will? You haven't heard one word from anyone in Congress and even President Obama. No matter how much conservation we practice at whatever level, everything becomes negated by adding 100 million people to this civilization and another 100 million after that, etc.
We need a "US Sustainable Immigration Policy" of a maximum of 100,000 annually; "US Water Usage Policy" and "US Sustainable Population Policy" in the 21st century if we expect to remain a viable civilization in the coming decades.
To take action: First and foremost, join <http://www.numbersusa.com/>www.numbersusa.com and become one of nearly a million Americans making impact with pre-written faxes and phone calls to change immigration policies toward a stable future. Bi-partisan and highly effective!

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