- "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future
for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more
time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." Elwyn Brooks
- 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.
- Catton describes in scrupulous detail humanity's accelerating
overshoot of resources on this finite planet. As he works his scientific
genius into the outcome of our overshoot-Americans of every walk of life-go
about their daily business without a clue as to what's coming. Furthermore
the media and leaders suppress any mention of human overpopulation; it
remains the final taboo!
- "To answer that need, the six parts of this book
are intended as integrated contributions to an overdue paradigm shift,"
said Catton. "Homo sapiens have painted themselves into a corner.
Our previous conventional, industrial, pre-ecological paradigm has prevented
us from seeing what we are doing. Chapter 10 describes and explains the
fateful course upon which we embarked when we claimed independence from
- About 150 years ago, humans, via the Industrial Age,
stepped out of the "Circle of Life." We stepped away from our
animal heritage of hunter/gatherers. We leaped into a new paradigm of mass
production, steel, chemicals and inventions. We hit upon electricity 100
years ago. We abandoned the horse to adopt the mega-polluting and resource
devouring automobile. That's when we accelerated our unfortunate reality
today, i.e., climate change, species extinction, polluted air, polluted
water, created 80,000 chemicals and plastic. Since that time, we wrecked
oceans, lakes, rivers and land with our trash and poisons.
- "The alternative to chaos is to abandon the illusion
that all things are possible," said Catton. "Mankind has learned
to manipulate many of nature's forces, but neither as individuals nor as
organized societies can human beings attain outright omnipotence. Many
of us remain beneficiaries of the once myth of limitlessness."
- Catton slaps readers in the face with this core principle:
Human society is inextricably part of a global biotic community, and in
that community human dominance has had and is having self-destructive consequences.
- "We need to see that grasping it will actually help
us to adjust sanely to an unwelcome but inescapable future," said
Catton. "We, the human species, are inexorably tightening the two
jaws of a vice around our fragile civilization. There are already more
human beings alive than the world's renewable resources can perpetually
support. We have built complex societies that therefore depend on rapid
use of exhaustible resources. The other jaw is the accumulation of harmful
substances that are unavoidably created by our life processes. There are
so many of us, using so much technology, that these substances accumulate
too fast for the global ecosystems to reprocess them."
- Examples explode across the planet in 10,000 square
mile "dead zones" like at the mouth of the Mississippi River
to 20,000 to 27,000 square mile "dead zones" at the mouths of
the Ganges, Yangtze, and other rivers pouring into the North Sea out of
Europe. The three million tons of floating plastic in the Great Pacific
Garbage Patch illustrates humanity's disregard for the natural world.
It causes untold millions of deaths for marine life.
- While humans war and squabble, they fail to address their
common fate. This week, North Korea dropped a bunch of bombs on South
Korea. You sit in your chair, after watch the carnage on TV and wonder,
"Why?" What possessed them? North Korea builds bombs, but can't
feed its own people.
- Rather than squabbling about boundaries, humanity must
address its collective survival as we near the end of the "Age of
Oil". Because once it's gone, nothing can replace 'that' kind of
energy density. Once that occurs, how will we feed our enormously overpopulated
6.8 billion humans? How will we water them? How will we maintain civilization?
- "As we reap the whirlwind of troubles necessitated
by excessive success, thinking ecologically of our global predicament may
reduce the temptation to hate those who seem to be trespassing against
us," said Catton.
- "Any area of land will support in perpetuity only
a limited number of people. An absolute limit is imposed by soil and climatic
factors in so far as these are beyond human control, and a practical limit
is set by the way in which the land is used. If this practical limit of
population is exceeded, without compensating change in the system of land
usage, then a cycle of degenerative changes is set into motion which must
result in deterioration or destruction of the land and ultimately in hunger
and reduction of the population." William Allen, "Studies in
African Land Usage."
- 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 at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author
of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies
available: 1 888 280 7715