I don’t know if the 18th century Malthus is still mentioned in schools as someone who theorized that an increased food supply encouraged population growth and predicted the forces behind population increase were larger than those behind increases in food production. Of course, the conclusion is that humans are unsustainable on Earth.
Humans, indeed, are the ultimate consumers of Earth’s resources. We not only consume food—overfishing our oceans—we consume clean water, clean air, and energy.
Consider the Ogallala aquifer in the Midwest. If spread across the U.S. the aquifer would cover all 50 states with 1.5 feet of water
- If drained, it would take more than 6,000 years to refill naturally
- More than 90 percent of the water pumped is used to irrigate crops
- $20 billion a year in food and fiber depend on the aquifer
Yet, one Kansas study estimates the aquifer will run dry in 50 years.
Fossil fuel supplies are limited, and their production consumes clean air and water.
In short we are consuming Earth’s resources, and population growth contributes to the depletion.
It is not only about survival, it is about life as we know it. Imagine life without furnaces, air conditioning, convenient transportation, and all of our de-vices for communication and entertainment.
My point is not to spread doom and gloom, but to increase our supply of awareness. I believe that proper long-term planning and science can not only help us survive, but maintain and even improve our health and lifestyle. It is science that has created fruits and vegetables with longer shelf lives and more essential nutrients, is experimenting with creating meat in laboratories, and more.
Further, it is science, which can save our future as it has in the past, but today the challenge is greater because we consume more and more different kinds of resources. I am delighted to see compostable plastic-like bags, advances in medical science, discovery of caterpillars who will eat plastic bags that make their way into our oceans , efforts to get carbon out of the air, electric cars, renewable energy such as solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro-electricity, and two-year olds if suitably harnessed.Often the first of new inventions is not the best, but gets better.
One of my concerns is an anti-scientific attitude in this country, and I don’t know its basis. Is it because scientists are warning us and we don’t like the message so we want to strangle the messenger? Is it because we only care about the here and now? Or because we only care about our own welfare?
Believe it or not: a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) administrator testified before Congress re the need for continued adequate funding. When she mentioned the importance of weather forecasting, like a child thinking eggs don’t come from chickens but from grocery stores, one unnamed congress creature said, “Oh, if I want to know what the weather will be, I turn on TV.”
We can’t afford as a society to be ignorant of what faces us. Individual human beings need more than ever to be educated not only to be employed but contribute to the preservation of our common wealth and how to make it work for us for the common good.
End of sermon.