In Minnesota, concerns about pollution's effects are hindering proposals for growth in many extractive sectors of our economy. Mining, both for iron and for sulfide ores for other metals, is being challenged because of historic failures to meet pollution control requirements. Logging is conflicting with multiple uses of forests in Minnesota. Industrial agriculture continues to degrade both surface and groundwater in Minnesota and the midwest. Business as usual has been leaving large, very expensive messes for taxpayers, not investors, to clean up.
The authors of Limits to Growth did a 30-year update back near the turn of the millennium.
Earth Overshoot Day, in one form or another, is not just a hypothetical exercise. In response, instead of finding ways to work better together, we're busy practicing a strategy of "Will the last human on Earth please turn off the lights?" Gated communities don't work well on a dead planet. The only other choice we have left, it seems to me, is to try for a soft landing, instead of just letting all Earth's systems crash around what's left of us. One way or another, growth, in and of itself, will not meet our needs.The signs are everywhere around us:
- Sea level has risen 10–20 cm since 1900. Most non-polar glaciers are retreating, and the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice is decreasing in summer.
- In 1998 more than 45 percent of the globe’s people had to live on incomes averaging $2 a day or less. Meanwhile, the richest one- fifth of the world’s population has 85 percent of the global GNP. And the gap between rich and poor is widening.
- In 2002, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimated that 75 percent of the world’s oceanic fisheries were fished at or beyond capacity. The North Atlantic cod fishery, fished sustainably for hundreds of years, has collapsed, and the species may have been pushed to biological extinction.
- The first global assessment of soil loss, based on studies of hundreds of experts, found that 38 percent, or nearly 1.4 billion acres, of currently used agricultural land has been degraded.
- Fifty-four nations experienced declines in per capita GDP for more than a decade during the period 1990–2001.
For those who would dismiss these issues as unrealistic pessimistic doomsday scenarios, it's not true, since the computer model is probably:
... highly optimistic. It has no military sector to drain capital and resources from the productive economy. It has no wars to kill people, destroy capital, waste lands, or generate pollution. It has no ethnic strife, no corruption, no floods, earthquakes, nuclear accidents, or AIDS epidemics. The model represents the uppermost possibilities for the “real” world.If those words don't convince you, try this picture from the Stockholm Resilience Center:
Mother Earth: Her WhalesAn owl winks in the shadows
A lizard lifts on tiptoe, breathing hard
Young male sparrow stretches up his neck,
big head, watching—
The grasses are working in the sun. Turn it green.
Turn it sweet. That we may eat.
Grow our meat.
Brazil says “sovereign use of Natural Resources”
Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.
The living actual people of the jungle
sold and tortured—
And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called “Brazil”
can speak for them?
The whales turn and glisten, plunge
and sound and rise again,
Hanging over subtly darkening deeps
Flowing like breathing planets
in the sparkling whorls of
And Japan quibbles for words on
what kinds of whales they can kill?
A once-great Buddhist nation
dribbles methyl mercury
in the sea.
Pere David’s Deer, the Elaphure,
Lived in the tule marshes of the Yellow River
Two thousand years ago—and lost its home to rice—
The forests of Lo-yang were logged and all the silt &
Sand flowed down, and gone, by 1200 AD—
Wild Geese hatched out in Siberia
head south over basins of the Yang, the Huang,
what we call “China”
On flyways they have used a million years.
Ah China, where are the tigers, the wild boars,
like the snows of yesteryear
Gone in a mist, a flash, and the dry hard ground
Is parking space for fifty thousand trucks.
IS man most precious of all things?
—then let us love him, and his brothers, all those
Fading living beings—
North America, Turtle Island, taken by invaders
who wage war around the world.
May ants, may abalone, otters, wolves and elk
Rise! and pull away their giving
from the robot nations.
Solidarity. The People.
Standing Tree People!
Flying Bird People!
Swimming Sea People!
Four-legged, two-legged people!
How can the head-heavy power-hungry politic scientist
Government two-world Capitalist-Imperialist
Third-world Communist paper-shuffling male
non-farmer jet-set bureaucrats
Speak for the green of the leaf? Speak for the soil?
(Ah Margaret Mead . . . do you sometimes dream of Samoa?)
The robots argue how to parcel out our Mother Earth
To last a little longer
like vultures flapping
near a dying doe.
“In yonder field a slain knight lies—
We’ll fly to him and eat his eyes
with a down
derry derry derry down down.”
An Owl winks in the shadow
A lizard lifts on tiptoe
The whales turn and glisten
Sound, and rise again
Flowing like breathing planets
In the sparkling whorls
Of living light.
Stockholm: Summer Solstice 40072
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.