Sunday, December 19, 2010
Peak Homo Sapien Sapiens. The Coming Catastrophe
We live in interesting times. For most of human history, our numbers dwindled below 1 billion globally. It wasn't until 1804 that we reached 1 billion because of technological advances resulting from fossil fuels. For most of human history, we had relied on the sun for energy. Whatever fell from the skies and was captured by plants and converted into chemical energy was the energy that we could use.
When fossil fuels were discovered and started to be used, we were tapping into vast stores of chemical energy. It was energy that had been captured by plants and animals eons earlier. There's nothing wrong with using it but we must use the "energy piggy banks" gifted to us with great responsibility because it simply won't last forever.
Instead, we have greedily and rapaciously used these fossil fuel reservoirs to our own detriment. The burning of fossil fuels releases Earth-warming greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. These gasses will permanently alter global weather patterns and make agriculture more difficult and unpredictable. Unfortunately, the current economic paradigm calls for infinite growth and ignores the limits and capacity of the Earth.
I tried to debate the limits of growth with an economic professor but it was like arguing with a pigeon. He believed that humans populations and economies can sustain infinitesimal growth. He refused to draw connections between the study of life (biology) and the study of human life (economics). This arrogance of people, of our own superiority to Mother Nature, is what will get us all killed.
We must realize the truth: that the Earth is a closed biosphere and that what we are doing to it: our unbridled consumption, our daily choice to take the car to go 1 block to the store on the corner; and our sense of entitlement will be the end of us.
What do we do? Use less energy. Money is energy so vote with your wallet. Recycle. Fix and reuse what you can. Don't buy into the Black Friday hype. Save your money for a rainy day.