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Overpopulation In 21st Century America - Pt 39
Overshoot - Running Our Planet Into The Dirt

By Frosty Wooldridge
"Signs of stress on the world's principle biological systems-forests, fisheries, grasslands, and croplands-indicate that in many places these systems have already reached the breaking point. Expecting these systems to withstand a tripling or quadrupling of population pressures defies ecological reality."  ---Lester Brown, www.earth-policy.org
The United States today, with 312 million rapacious consumers, carbon exhausters and water wasters, overwhelms and over rides just about every environmental marker on the planet. In combination with China, India and other overpopulated countries-humans exceed the Earth's carrying capacity on multiple levels. Symptoms erupt everywhere on the planet: Haiti's starving and diseased population; 1 billion humans cannot procure clean water daily; 3.1 billion humans subsist on less than $2.00 per day; 18 million humans starve to death annually; 1,000 children die daily in India from diarrhea, dysentery and other water borne diseases; 80 to 100 species suffer extinction daily planet-wide from human encroachment on their habitat and the list grows.
The United States expects to add an additional 100 million within 25 years and double its current population to 600 million within 70 years. Do we allow the future to 'happen to us' or do we change it to design it toward sustainability and quality of life!
In one of the most compelling books of the last 30 years, Overshoot by Dr. William Catton, we discover that humanity exceeds the carrying capacity of its planet at its peril. Stewart Udall in the foreword said, "In a future that is unavoidable as it will be unwelcome, survival and sanity may depend upon our ability to cherish rather than disparage the concept of human dignity. It is axiomatic that we are in no way protected from the consequences of our actions by remaining confused about the ecological meaning of our humanness, ignorant of ecological processes, and unmindful of the ecological aspects of history. I have tried to show the real nature of humanity's predicament not because understanding its nature will enable us to escape it, but because if we do not understand it, we shall continue to act and react in ways that make it worse."
In my world travels, I witnessed the 80 million added babies annually to this overburdened planet. Actually, 57 million humans die annually, but another 57 million babies replace them and a net gain of another 80 million babies add to the burden of the planet, which Catton calls "Overshoot". Or, it's what those added 80 million do to the planet as they begin their rapacious consumption habits.
"America has preened itself for three decades on the wizardry of its technologists," said Udall, "Myths die hard! Evidence of our overshoot accumulates daily. President Carter discovered it is not easy to take a country conditioned to believe that every problem has a technical solution and to persuade its citizens that a major change of orientation has become necessary."
Catton talks about our robust expansion at the expense of our environment and all other living creatures in the forms of plants and animals. Worse, our expansion remains mindless while the other creatures cannot defend themselves against our onslaught. Did you watch the movie, "Avatar"? Those large-eyed "human" creatures beat back technology with their wits and flying creatures, but that's make-believe in the movies. No aborigines on this planet could defend against one tribe's dominance of organized violence whether it showed up as Spaniards in Mexico and South America or Europeans in North America and Australia. The Chinese took over their continent and India overwhelmed its landmass. Today, hundreds of animals in India and China live on the brink of their final days.
"In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air." Changing Times Magazine
"On the banks of the Volga in 1921, a refugee community was visited by an American newspaper reporter who had come to write about the Russian famine," said Catton. "Almost half the people in this community were already dead of starvation. The death rate was rising. In an adjacent field, a lone soldier guarded a huge mound of sacks full of grain. The American newsman asked the leader of the community why his people did not overpower this one guard, take the grain and relieve their hunger. The old Russian explained the sacks contained the seed to be planted for the next growing season. "We do not steal from the future," he said.
"Today, mankind is locked into stealing ravenously from the future. That is what this book is about. It's not about famine or hunger. Famine in the modern world must be read as one of the several symptoms reflecting a deeper malady in the human condition-namely, diachronic competition, a relationship whereby contemporary well-being is achieved at the expense of our descendents. [The federal $13 trillion debt brings to mind an example of undermining future generations on a financial level.]
"By our sheer numbers, by the state of our technological development, and by being oblivious to differences between a method that achieved lasting increments of human carrying capacity, and one that achieves only temporary supplements, we have made satisfaction of today's human aspirations dependent upon massive deprivation for posterity."
At this point in 2010, we continually 'evade' our dilemma because we can get away with it. For example, when Lewis and Clark journeyed through the west on their epic expedition-the Indians that helped them survive, didn't know it at the time, but their freedom, food and way of life would die within 100 years-all 500 tribes would not survive the European invasion. They remain enslaved on reservations today in 2010. Result: loss of languages, religion, culture and way of life! They suffer diseases, obesity, internal violence, alcoholism and meaninglessness.
Today, with another 100 million people being added to the United States within 25 years, everything will change for Americans. Unless, of course, they take matters into their own hands and change course. That's the reason for this series!
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents "The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it" to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance atwww.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715
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