Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Will Water be More Valuable than Gold?

Have you ever wondered what substance on earth is the most valuable? Is it oil, is it uranium, is it gold or diamond? The things we value today will not be what we value in the future, because in the future there is one substance that will very likely be more valuable than oil, uranium, gold, or diamonds, and that substance is water!

Although we often think our planet will never fail to provide us with enough drinking water, this may not be true, at least not if we continue adding people and polluting our water. Even today some people pay more for bottled water than they do for gas for their car.

It's not just drinking water we need, we also use water in agriculture; to grow plants, and for our livestock animals. As we add more people to what many would say is an already overpopulated planet, we will continue to require more fresh water.

How Much Fresh Water is there?

About 98% of our water is in the oceans, leave 2 % as fresh water, of which 1.6% is frozen in icecaps and glaciers. 0.36% is ground water, leaving only 0.036% available to us in our rivers, lakes, and streams. Other water is in cloud form, or actually in the bodies of animals, and in plants.

Many people look naively at the oceans and think we have an unlimited amount of water. Even those that are smart enough to realize our fresh water resources are at risk sometimes are ignorant to the risks that our oceans face, and the problems of relying on ocean water to solve the impending crisis of not having enough fresh drinking water. In other words desalinization plants may not be the answer if we continue to add to the population at the rate we currently are.

The Water Crisis will be Fueled by Human Overpopulation

Today we live in a paradox, we are finding ways of bringing fresh, safe, drinking water to more people, but industrialization is resulting in more and more chemicals finding their way into streams, rivers, and eventually the ocean. More people means more demand for fresh water, and it means more people polluting the water we have.

People in some nations (such as El Salvador) are spending over 10% of their total income on safe drinking water. In a world with a growing population and increased pollution, water is becoming a premium resource. For now it might seem that we are improving the supply of fresh water to people who have not had it in the past, but at the same rate we keep adding people to the planet, and making demands of a valuable resource.

Terra Nova got it Wrong

If you have been watching FOX network (American TV) show Terra Nova, you will have seen an overpopulated, over polluted planet in the year 2149. The show is fun to watch but has some flaws, one flaw being that while the people in 2149 live in domed cities and require masks to breath the air they sent people back into the past (through a portal in time to the time of the dinosaurs) to rape the planet for minerals. It seems far more likely to me that the resources they would most want would be fresh drinking water and perhaps even a few dinosaurs to feed all the people.

A Wake Up Call

I just know somebody who is reading this is probably thinking: “What about desalinization?”, Sure we can remove salt from the sea, but desalinization plants cost money how far inland will we pump the water, how much will it cost the consumer, will coastal countries pump water inland to countries that do not have coastlines?

photo source - Whitechuck glacier, Washington - 1973

If you think we can rely on streams, and rivers to continue to supply us with our water, think again. Thanks to global warming glaciers are melting at alarming rates, this includes glaciers in mountain ranges. Snow fall is less and less, and drought is more and more common. Eventually the streams and rivers will run dry for most of the year. Some of our world's glaciers have already vanished, others have shown great rates of retreating since 1980.

The images shows an area of the Whitechuck Glacier, that has retreated more than 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) between the times these two photos were taken.
photo source - Whitechuck Glacier - 2006

Have you ever heard of the Aral Sea? If you haven't it is probably because the sea barely exists anymore compared it to what it was years ago. Although it is in a state of recovery now (due to pressure to save the Aral Sea) it was almost gone, due to water being diverted from it for agricultural purposes. It is still mostly too salty for life (having become salty due to the lack of fresh water reaching it for years). It is alarming that so few people have even heard of it since, at one time, the Aral Sea was one of the four largest lakes in the world.

As such I suggest that the most valuable substance on earth is not oil, uranium, gold, or silver, but is one thing we take for granted:  Fresh water.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Human Overpopulation, what do we owe Nature?

As human populations increase, populations of other species fall.  Although few people are aware, we are living in a time scientists have called the Holocene extinction event.  Plants and animal species are going extinct at alarming rates. Undoubtedly some species have gone extinct before we were even aware of their very existence. Other species we wiped out and watched them vanish from the face of the earth, the passenger pigeon being a perfect example of such an extinction.

Some scientists have suggested that over 50,000 species are going extinct every year. Most of these extinctions will be unnoticed and undocumented as they represent flora and fauna we never even knew existed.
Today we continue to control the populations of other species; sometimes directly as when we control the population growth through systematic slaughter, culling, and spay/neuter programs, sometimes indirectly, as when introduced species become invasive and kill other species.

We select which species are important to us, which we dislike, and have decided that the human species is the most important of all. It is extremely ironic that our own species is allowed to reach the numbers it has, topping 7 billion people as of October, 2011, while we try to control so many other populations.

We find it easier to kill off seals so they do not eat “our fish” rather than restricting our population growth, or our consumption of fish. For some reason we have decided that we need to cut the rain forest at a rate where we consume nature faster than it can recover. We decide what are weeds, and remove them because they do not benefit us.  We have allowed humanity to build a large dept to nature that few are interested in repaying.

Do we have the right do destroy other species to maintain our own?

What Debt do we Owe Nature?

I beleive we owe nature a huge debt, one which it seems only a few are trying to repay by living a more sustainable existance, while others are content to consume all they want, have all the kids they want, and live like there is no tomorrow.  Indeed there may be no tomorrow if people do not change their ways.

Controlling our own population is key to our own survival.  If we continue to destroy the environment we doom ourselves to extinction.  Sadly many people reject the notion of human overpopulation, they see it only as an issue of food, not an issue of larger proportions.  If we can control the population of so many other species why do so few people realize there is an issue with the population of the human species and the impact it has on nature?

We owe it not only to nature to control our population, but to ourselves.  We need to realize that we need nature for our own survival and cannot continue to upset the balance of things.  A good example of this would be the Aral Sea, were an entire ecosystem was destroyed, just so we could have a bit of cotton.

We need to realize that it is nature that keeps us alive, not the dollar bill, or large house we live in, or the car we drive.  We need to place the same interest on controlling our population as we do that of other species if we want to continue our existance here, because currently we are consuming resources at alarming rates and driving other species to extinction, and for what?

What debt do we owe nature?  We owe nature our lives.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Good the Bad and the Ugly of the Duggar Family

The Duggar family already has 19 children, and recently announced they are expecting another in April of 2012.  This announcement comes only days after the planet topped 7 billion people and while some people congratulate the family, others are horrified.

The Duggar family has been on television shows such as "19 Kids and Counting" a reference to the number of children they have.

The Duggar family is reportedly financially stable enough to support their children and are not living off the welfare system.  They did have assistance (through workers who donated their time) in building their 7,000 square foot home.  As well, the Discovery television network arranged for many donations to the family, and their home, from corporate sponsors.  There are some that say the family has declared their home as a church to avoid paying taxes.

The Duggar's use their older children to help care for the younger ones, confusing the boundary between sibling and caregiver.  Fans of their show point out that it is rare to see the parents show any affection to the older children.

Nonetheless the biggest issue with the Duggar family is how they impact the already overpopulated planet.

Many people argue that having big families was the norm across America only a few hundred years ago when people needed kids to work on the farm.  True, but we must also consider that big families are no longer needed for farm life, the Duggar's are not a farming family, and back in the 1800's (when the world population was only 1 billion) infant mortality was much higher than it is now, and our lifespans were much shorter.  Finally; people two hundred years ago lived a far more environmentally sustainable lifestyle than they do now.

By many environmental standards twenty kids for one couple is at least eighteen too many, particularly in the United States where people consume far more than their share of resources and are leaving a very large ecological footprint.  The average American is consuming at a rate they require a 9 global hectares of space to meet their rate of consumption, however the planet only has 2 global hectares per person, a number which goes down as population increases.  A global hectare being roughly 10,000 meters square.

With a family of 21 people the Duggars are already responsible for taking 189 global hectares, roughly the same amount of land needed by 110 Chinese!

Right now the population of the planet consumes renewable resources at a rate that is 1.4 times faster than they can be renewed, and having large families will only make this worse.  There may be enough food to go around, but food is only one of the world's resources, and let us not discount the amount of waste generated by such large families.

Overpopulation is a real issue and one that some fundamentalist families are ignoring, selfishly convinced that they are doing "God's will". 

If you feel the Duggar family is wrong for continually pumping out more kids onto an already populated planet let the Discovery Channel know you will not support them as long as they continue to support the Duggar family. 

*If the show airs on other channels in your area, contact those channels.

In Canada
In the USA

Note:  On December 8, 2011, doctors gave Michelle Duggar the news that she had miscarried her unborn child.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Georgia Guidestones Rule of 500,000,000 People

Created in 1979 and unveiled to the public in 1980, the Georgia Guidestones have held a sense of mystery.  Made from 6 granite stones weighing more than 110,000 kg (240,000 pounds) these stones have been inscribed with a message not only written in English, but in 7 other language as well, and shorter messages written in 4 older languages such as Sanskrit.

The Georgia Guidestones stand on a hill in Elbert county, Georgia, approximately 140 km (90 miles) to the east of Atlanta.  They can be accessed from Georgia Highway 77 via Guidestones road.

The 10 inscriptions on the Guidestones are mostly about treating others well, and being respectful of the environment, but the one line that gets the most attention, is the first one, which states: "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature."

Georgia Guidestones
 Some people fear that this suggests an extermination of roughly 6.5 billion people on the planet and have called the writings Satanic.  Others feel no such genocide is being called for and rather the suggestion is made to naturally reduce our population overtime, and simply not allow it to expand beyond that number.

The Georgian Guidestones are not the only place a population of 500,000,000 is suggested.  Philanthropist, and media mogul, Ted Turner, has been linked to the stones through speculation due to him reportedly suggesting a sustainable world population of 500,000,000.  But Ted Turner was not the only one to publicly voice this idea.

A religious group known as the Rosincrucians have often suggested a sustainable world population of 500 million, they too have been linked to the stone through speculation.  Other people, scientists, and people of intelligence, have suggested the same number.

When was the world human population last at 500,000,000 people?  Surprisingly only only 600+ years ago, around 1500.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 31, 2011, The Scariest Day So Far

October 31, 2011 is not only Halloween, but it shall go down in history as the day the earth's human population hit 7 billion. You might not think that is any amount, but when you consider that the population has more than doubled in the last 30 years, and stop to think about what that means for the future, you may see the reason why so many people are concerned.

Population clocks count off the births faster than people can count. In the short time it has taken me to write this page so far, over 1000 people have been added to the planet. Thousands more are born every day than are dying, millions in only a matter of days.

A lot of people live in denial that world human overpopulation is an issue, they insist there is food for everyone and it is just not reaching those that need it. While this is true, it is not the only issue that people are concerned about. Fresh water is a limited resource and actually becoming more scarce every day. Pollution levels increase as populations boom. Of great concern is the population being so much greater than the earth's ability to sustain it for long.

Currently we rely on non-renewable resources very heavily. We also consume non-renewable resources at a pace faster than they can be renewed. Eventually we will reach a wall, a time when their simply will not be enough to go around; some say we have already reached this point.

Fingers are often pointed at population growth in Africa (and India, or China) as being part of the problem.  But those people typically consume fewer resources than do the people of developed nations.  True, birth rate is a problem, but so is consumer demand!

While birth rates are falling in some areas the real problem is also that we are living longer and infant mortality rates have dropped. For the first time in history it is not uncommon to have four generations of a family alive at any time. A large part of the reason why human population is growing as fast as it is that we are not dying as young as we use to. Now, since nobody wants to start slaughtering people in massive numbers to control the population, we must think of other things to do.

What can you do?

We can control our population growth by having smaller families. We need to recognize that even one child born is growth, and remains an additional consumer, and resource taker, until we die when that child replaces us. If our child has children before we die, we need to see how more growth has occurred.

We can put off having children for a few years, waiting at least until our mid 20's rather than rushing into it young. You can pledge to have only one child and then take measures through sterilization to ensure we do not have more.

Fertility doctors should be bound not to implant so many embryo's into a woman as to risk the high numbers seen in some multiple births.

Birth control should be free and available to everyone. This applies world wide, it is not enough that we feed people in other nations, we need to provide them with education, and tools to control population growth.

People must be accountable for the children they have.

We also need to learn how to live with less.

Imagine you are a parent, you and your spouse have a couple of kids. You have a small garden and a few hens. Your sons bring their wives to live with you, in your house, they have children, and your grandsons bring their wives to live with you, in your house. Can your garden sustain all of you? Think of the planet as one house. It cannot continue to support more and more people.

Spread the word before things get more scary!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It is hard to Write about Human Overpopulation

Well, I haven't really written anything on this blog for some time, so I thought I should. Overpopulation has been a concern of mine since I was young. I think I was tuned into this global problem after watching a television series called Logan's Run (it was also a movie), and watching the city I grew up in flood over onto farm land reinforced my concern.

I think I have been ignoring this blog because it seems like I am only preaching to the choir, other people who know what the problem is and are equally as powerless to stop it. The frustration behind seeing a problem that so many are in denial of is exhausting. I cannot help but wonder why so few people are aware that human overpopulation is a real problem. So many people say “Overpopulation is a myth, we are no where near the earth's maximum population”. I think perhaps they are in denial, then I think perhaps they are just stupid, or really bad at math.  No, you really cannot fit all of the earth's people easily onto a state the size of Texas

I guess some people think that the maximum population situation is when one person too many is born and God steps in to shut down the planet or something. They do not realize that we are already in a crisis, already relying heavily on non-renewable resources (the ones we never get back), and using up renewable ones at a rate faster than they can be renewed (do the math, that doesn't look good).

People are living mostly for the here and now, and not thinking of the future, after all most of us will be dead before things are so bad that drastic action will have to be taken. Oh wait, drastic action has already been taken, has it not? One-child policies? What about famine? Is mother nature taking drastic action just as Thomas Malthus predicted over 100 years ago?

Most countries will do nothing to stop population growth, more people mean more tax dollars flowing to the top, and of course it would be political suicide for any elected official to suggest population control measures.
What can we, as people on a planet flooded with 7 billion souls, do? I guess we can try to educate others. Educate others to be responsible, consume less, reproduce less, and maybe not try to live as long. Educating others to adopt our ways of thinking on the problems of overpopulation is really the toughest part, its easy to preach to the choir, but to get others to sing along is a bit tougher.

I guess that is why I have not written here for so long. Writing to my pet advice blog is easy, people come there looking for help, looking for information, people just do not spend the same time looking up information on overpopulation unless it is already something they know about.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Population Institute

The Population Institute is an international non-profit that educates policymakers and the public about population, and seeks to promote universal access to family planning information, education, and services.  Through voluntary family planning, we strive to achieve a world population in balance with a healthy global environment and resource base.

The Population Institute is a non-profit International organization that is working to spread awareness of family planning and birth control measures.  While you are on their site you can watch a count of the population growth in real time.  If you are there for a few minutes you will be alarmed at the population growth that will occurr in that short of a time.

Through education they hope to teach people that by having smaller families they will be better able to cope in poverty striken areas.  They coach population activists, and try to educate others in regards to why extreme population growth is a problem.

All donations to the Population Institute are tax-deductable.

Read more at The Population Institute

Friday, February 4, 2011

Overpopulation Hypocrites

Most people recognize that there is a pet overpopulation problem. Animal shelters in the USA alone euthanize millions of pets every year to deal with this problem. Pet owners are constantly being encouraged to spay or neuter their pets, in effort to combat the growing problem of having more pets born every year than there are homes for.

Even when we go to countries where animal shelters are not present to euthanize excess animals, or to spay and neuter, we see “other” control measures being used. Poison is put out or the animals are tossed into pits to die slow deaths.

It seems odd that we, as humans, can recognize overpopulation in other species, and have no problems acting on it. We euthanize the unwanted, and we try to sterilize the masses that remain. Yet most countries do not even allow doctor assisted suicide, and laws that once saw some people sterilized (as in Alberta, Canada from 1928 to 1972) are considered outrageous and a violation of human rights.

On a planet with over 7 billion people, and over 1 billion of those living in dire need, we have crossed a line, and are refusing to deal with the consequences. Those who preach about spaying and neutering pets, need to also consider their own contribution to human overpopulation.

For the record, all my cats are spayed or neutered, and I had my tubes tied months after my first, and only, child was born.

Anyone who is concered about pet over population, and the "animal holocaust" needs to also see the problem as it exists in the human species.  People who worry about too many seals eating fish, too many deer in the forest, and too many unwanted pets, had better look at the growing numbers of humans on the planet too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What is the Current World Population?

There is no certain answer as to what the exact human population is.  By following past data we can only predict, or estimate, what the population actually is.  Of course it may be larger than predicted due to the fact that in many nations births are not accounted for properly.

The United States has a "Clock" that reports what it thinks is the current US, and World Population at any given moment.  The Clock is updated every five minutes based on the suggested rate of births, and deaths.  Currently births exceed deaths, and the population climbs by the minute.

A screen shot shows where it is at the time of this blog posting.

So roughly 6.9 Billion people are on the This Shrinking Planet as of February 2, 2011.  To make things interesting, why not check out the ever changing Population Clock yourself, click here.