Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Mankind Should Consider Planning A Sustainable Future

Sustainability Remains Critical To Our Future
Much of the world's economy has ground to a halt due to the covid-19 pandemic. This highlights that we should occasionally take a few moments to reflect on where we are, and just as important, is where we are going. Only to the most self-centered individuals with no children, family or friends can the issue of creating a sustainable future not be an issue of importance. In many ways, it should be considered "job one" in our rapidly changing world.

Still, the job of planning for a more sustainable future is almost always put on the back burner and ignored because of both political and economic ramifications. Sustainability means planning our future in a way that we do not set ourselves up to crash and burn at some future date. Long-term planning is not something politicians excel at or are even good at. Most political systems are geared at getting politicians re-elected and meeting the most pressing needs of today and not tomorrow.

Over the years the human race has become productive enough that we can afford a gentle kinder world if we stop governments from taking a huge share of this wealth to wage war and spy on its citizens. The human race has allowed things like profit, greed, and our unquenchable desire for growth to be placed in front of longer-term issues and needs. Of course, mapping out a logical and sustainable long-term plan requires delving into some rather hefty philosophical questions such as what brings real happiness. We also have to think about what kind of society and world future generations might want to live in and properly recognize the role of the human-animal in the overall scheme of things. Considering that we as human beings rarely can agree about anything also creates a barrier to planning for a more "distant future."

Population Has Soared In Last Two Hundred Years
As the population has soared during the last two hundred years, man has spread out and constructed infrastructure across the planet to support this growth using more natural resources than at any time in history. Already more infrastructure is needed and the repairs required to maintain what we have already built will be staggering. It appears we lack the courage to even discuss these issues in any real way.

Do not expect to be guided by politicians, the super-wealthy or most business leaders. Few people are willing to come out and say the recently adopted modern model of life based on lifestyles developed in America and western society are unsustainable. The few that mutter these words are often scorned. This could all be considered part of a giant conspiracy of silence but is more likely a head in the sand act of denial, an act that could lead to our demise. 

Jeremy Grantham’s investment firm GMO manages about $110 billion in assets. He also backs the Grantham Institute of Climate Change at London’s Imperial College. He says population growth is a huge “threat to the long-term viability of our species when we reach a population level of 10 billion” because it is “impossible to feed the 10 billion people.” Billionaire Bill Gates says we should cap the global population at 8.3 billion at the same time his vaccine and other programs are extending life expectancy. Columbia University’s Earth Institute Director Jeff Sachs says even 5 billion is unsustainable. To stop adding more people our population is tough enough. But how do we eliminate two billion from today’s seven billion total? Voluntary? 

War Has Turned Cities Like Mosul Into Rubble
The only thing most people agree upon is that huge problems are going to arise. As the world continues to develop the importance of design and quality are factors that cannot be stressed enough. As the world's population soars we cannot afford the wasteful luxury of constructing buildings that grow obsolete or must be replaced every few decades, buildings should last for centuries. We also cannot afford to bomb and lay waste to whole cities killing and destroying what so many have worked so hard to create. How we use our new skills and the choices we make will determine if mankind blankets the world with Las Vegas-style resorts on every corner, fills the skies with glass towers, or constructs homes and shelters suitable for our fellow man.
Man Is The Cause Of Pollution (click to enlarge)

Today developing countries such as China and India that have huge populations of have-nots are rushing to follow the same flawed pattern of growth that was pioneered in America. The creation of huge wealth in China has manifested itself in conspicuous consumption as people rush to show their success. Poor planning has not promoted a lifestyle of efficiency and social interaction but has encouraged the private automobile with its massive support system of highways and the construction of more high-rise towers. The ability of the planet to sustain our modern lifestyle is very questionable.

This new way of living may be far too resource-intense to stand the test of time. We should remember that for most of his 60,000 years on earth man has been a minor consumer of the earth’s stores of energy. It is only with the discovery of fire that man began to increase his demands and draw on the short-term energy stores that had been accumulated over decades and even centuries by woody plants.  Only in the last hundred years with the invention of the internal combustion engine and a huge increase in population has man begun to tap the planet's long-term energy supplies of oil and natural gas at an alarming rate.

In merely a blink of an eye, we have shaped a world where our lifestyles revolve around and are dependent on oil and the consumption of energy from fossil fuels. To those naysayers of problems ahead that point to lower birthrates, it should be pointed out that longer lifespans mean more people remain alive at any one time. Statistics showing we must drill deeper and deeper to find fresh pools of oil do not lie. This is not an endorsement of some kind of "carbon tax" as much as it is a call for better planning and less waste. the sooner we move in that direction the better off we will be.

“One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, an environmental anthropologist and author of the classic “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” History shows that many failed civilizations share a sharp curve of decline which is usually totally intertwined with the economy and everyday life. A society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth, and power. Over the last few years the threat of nuclear war has increased but even more frightening is the acceptance of such an event as a way of resolving problems. Can we halt a major calamity before it’s too late? Don’t bet on it, watching how those in Washington and other capitals avoid dealing with the challenges we face is far from encouraging.

Footnote; The above article dovetails with many of my recent writings, below are a few related to this subject. Other articles may be found in my blog archive, thanks for reading, your comments are encouraged.
http://E-Waste Disposal Major Failure Of And By Government.html
https://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2019/01/power-of-orwellian-state-almost.html http://brucewilds.blogspot.com/2018/07/politicians-shy-away-from-dreadful-c.html
http://America Did Not Vote For More Death And Destruction!html
http://Mankinds Struggle Viewed Through The Peter Principle.html

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