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Earth Day April 22, 2011 ­ What Went Wrong?
By Frosty Wooldridge
In 1970, I participated in the First Earth Day on the Michigan State University campus. I felt that all of humanity would see how poorly we treated the planet and that we would all come together to change course and move toward a sustainable future.
In that 41 years since the first Earth Day, we added 112 million more Americans to this already overloaded country, and the citizens of the planet added another 5.0 billion human beings. You have to wonder how inept, how stupid, how dull, how trivial our species in our quest to dominate, destroy and crush the environmental systems that make this planet sustainable for all living things.
Right now, we cause the "6th Extinction Session" whereby we kill off about 80 to 100 species per day because of our human onslaught of their habitat. We create horrific carbon footprint that acidifies the oceans and wreaks havoc with our biosphere. We dump 80,000 chemicals into the land, air and water daily 24/7. We expand beyond carrying capacity on every continent except Antarctica.
What went wrong? Why did we grow worse than better? What fate do face?
Eric Rimmer, www.populationmatters.org in the United Kingdom brings it home:
"Since the first Earth Day was held in 1970 to focus attention on "the crisis of the environment", the world population has almost doubled and will reach 7 billion in the next twelve months," reported Population Matters. "Not surprisingly, humanity's impact on the environment has increased, too. It is estimated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature that the current rate of species extinction is between 1,000 and 10,000 above natural levels. 
"The causes are human: converting natural areas to farming and urban development, introducing invasive alien species, polluting or over-exploiting resources including water and soils and harvesting wild plants and animals at unsustainable levels. 
"At the same time, manmade climate change is increasingly posing a threat to the wellbeing of all life, human and animal alike. Moreover, those seeking to satisfy humanity's ever-growing needs are often proposing even greater exploitation of our environment: more intensive farming and exploitation of the resources of ever less accessible regions. 
"That's inevitable in a world where competition can be unrestrained and many are on the borderline of survival. However, the only answer in the long term is to limit our demand to renewable resources, not to squeeze ever more from a finite planet. Such limiting of demand means more sustainable lifestyles and adopting green technologies, but it should include addressing our numbers, too.
"The ways to lower our birth rate are well-known, and successful where adopted. They include alleviating poverty, encouraging women's rights and reducing infant and maternal mortality. Above all, they include universal access to affordable family planning and the adoption of reliable modern methods of contraception to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. Recent years have seen gross underinvestment in this area: in part, because funds have been diverted to the treatment of AIDS. That's understandable, but AIDS and family planning shouldn't compete for funds. Effective family planning, leading to lower birth rates and ultimately smaller populations, is fundamental to a sustainable future in a healthy environment."
Forty-one years later, we're so far behind the eight ball that we may not be able to save our species from mass starvation and utter destruction of our biosphere-but we must try. 
See www.populationmatters.org
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

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