Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Red Alert

Politics, blah blah blah.
Here's the scary stuff:
The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannas, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet -- and to itself.
...
# Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

# An estimated 24 percent of the Earth's land surface is now cultivated.

# Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers have doubled in the last 40 years. Humans now use between 40 percent and 50 percent of all available freshwater running off the land.

# At least a quarter of all fish stocks are overharvested. In some areas, the catch is now less than a hundredth of that before industrial fishing.

# Since 1980, about 35 percent of mangroves have been lost, 20 percent of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 20 percent badly degraded.

# Deforestation and other changes could increase the risks of malaria and cholera, and open the way for new and so far unknown diseases to emerge.
In a way, who cares if we sign on to the Kytoto Treaty? It appears too little, too late.

The world is in need of a comprehensive environmental treaty covering air, water and food quality and production. Within 500 years, I'm betting on species extinction unless humanity drastically changes its methods of exploiting world resources.

Listeners to my off-line diatribes are well aware that I believe the "overpopulation problem" to be one of the better and most persistent bits of misdirection is examining world problems. The problem is not too many people, the problem is the distribution of world resources being at the mercy of political constructs.

Since the United States is demonstrably a rogue nation at this juncture, it's far too much to expect any leadership on a world resource distribution summit to come from that quarter, but, and I want to make this perfectly clear, humanity is staring down the barrel of its ultimate destruction in a tiny march of generations.

If technological civilization collapses at any point in the future, it cannot be recreated in the same way. Mineral desposits extractable with primitive tools are exhausted. Remaining resources of this kind require a technological level that will not be sustained in the face of massive destruction of the basic necessities of food, water, and air. The conflicts arising from political competition from a shrinking resource pool will degrade the capacity of civilization to sustain itself.

It's long past time to quit kidding around about this issue. Processes altering the environmental fabric have a way of reaching tipping points at which a trend accelerates unstoppably. If the the biomass in the oceans collapses, we're all done, and for eternity.

Such an outcome may be welcome to the Left Behind crowd of apocalyptics, but for the reality-based community, the end of the human species is pretty much an unqualified catastrophe.

Without children, I don't have a close personal stake in the long-term future unless some clever folks come up with Immortality for Everyone (TM) before I kick, but for those of you who contemplate descendants, you might want to consider handing over a world where they won't be using up the last of their ammunition to defend five gallons of drinking water.

4 Comments:

Blogger amangler said...

I'm just gonna make sure that my son has the last of the V-8 Interceptors.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Antonius said...

I could have had a V8!

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sheesh, who cares if the world self-destructs in 500 years? i will be dead by then, my son will be dead by then, and any grandkids i may know in the future will be dead by then. so what do i care?

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sheesh, who cares if the world self-destructs in 500 years? i will be dead by then, my son will be dead by then, and any grandkids i may know in the future will be dead by then. so what do i care?

4:39 PM  

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