Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three Threats: Pollution, Over-Population and Nuclear (and other) WMD

We face three threats to our longevity as a species and all grow out of the dysfunction of ego:

Global climate change will be minimally very disruptive and could escalate way beyond the worst case scenarios of only a few years ago: rising seas, epidemics of old and new diseases, agricultural catastrophe, shifting currents drastically changing climate, unprecedented refugee dislocations and more. On top of the climate change situation apparently chiefly caused by deforestation and the dumping of carbon into the atmosphere, there is the dumping of toxic chemicals into the air, soil and water, the loss of topsoil, the poisoning and depletion of the oceans, the extinction of species.

The planet, in some estimates, can sustain a population of 150,000,000 at a U.S. lifestyle. Obviously, at six billion and climbing, we are way beyond that and something’s got to give. The high-consumption portion of world population must make serious adjustments as must the population-escalating portion. The adjustments might be voluntary if the crisis is fully recognized, and soon. If not they will be involuntary.

Nuclear weapons, as well as other clever yet-to-be-developed (or perhaps just not yet public) Weapons of Mass Destruction, have the potential to kill millions and render large areas uninhabitable for long periods. The proliferation of these weapons is on-going and encouraged by intransigence on the part of the nations already in possession, hesitant to give up what they mistakenly view as security. Nuclear power plants are pre-positioned nuclear devices to a serious terrorist and helpful ingredients in the making of nuclear weapons. There are more than 10,000 nuclear warheads, some on hair-trigger alert and hundreds of nuclear plants with full-time cheerleaders committed to promoting the technology. Radiation is increasingly entering our planet’s life system. Radiation is a carcinogen.

Madness you say? You would be not mistaken. All of this suicidal behavior is driven by fear which is created by the mistaken belief that we are not intricately interwoven into the web of life but rather are alternately masters and potential victims of an indifferent and violent order. The nurturer of this bleak view is the ego, a pseudo entity that will sacrifice whatever it takes to find momentary safety and maintain the illusion of its own importance and reality. How to escape Ego? See the next post and/or read Eckhart Tolle.


  1. Yes, back in the youth days, life was so filled with a sense of mysterious magical possbility. as if something wonderful existed just around the corner. . . that receding corner . . .

  2. Madness? An optimistic view.

    I can't prove it, but i stringly suspect that it is not madness, but something much worse: namely, rationality.

    You see, nature is not "good" nor "evil". Fittest survive, weak die and extinct.

    When humans became sapient, whole new class of tools became available to organisms (us) in order to become more "fit" in ever-going struggle for survival. A class of rationally created devices.

    It took some time to invent and esetablish cultures - dozens of thousands of years. But it was unevitable we'd discover fire. In oxygen-rich athmosphere, burning carbon gives power. Power to scare predators off. Power to destroy opposing clan's village - possibly with its inhabitants, and thus to get much needed pasture, animals, grain reserves, crop fields etc of that opposing clan. Power to build rifles, cannons, and eventually, airbus-380.

    In the world which was and is always filled by us (humans) to capacity, defined by available technologies, there always was, is and will be the struggle for survival.

    It is rational to use whatever available when it's one's (and one's family's) life (lives) at stake.

    Indeed, how could we expect a businessman with too much of debt to care for future generations, if he faces a bankruptcy _tomorrow_? How can we expect "cheap labor force" in Asia to care about CO2 emissions through the years, if his children are hungry TODAY? How can we expect governments to become greener, if many of them are struggling to simply feed their own people - and are not exactly achieving that?

    Physics and chemistry are not good nor evil. They say to us that on this planet, rational ways to get an edge when competing with other rational beings - is much destructive to the biosphere. Biosphere did not evolve to survive exhausting pressure of rational beings. It was and is not designed to do well under unprecedentally-fast changing climate, nor under unprecedented levels of pollution (of all sorts). It is failing as we speak in many places of the world, and will be failing in times more places in observable future.

    Understandable result of blind selection force which formed us during millions of years of evolution of our ancestors: we humans still have instincts and desires of animals (to mate, to care about our offsprings, to feed, to sleep, to protect our family) present, resulting in overpopulation, wars, famines, epidemics, overuse of natural resources, and pollution as soon as our new ability - to apply intellect to transform our tools, - is used on a global scale. Because or instincts do NOT care about things which happen "somewhere else". We clean our places and don't excrete into our own beds - our instincts prevent that; but we don't clean and excrete (even literally) to places which are "away", as our instincts are all FOR it - we are designed to put our waste into the environment, just a bit away from ourselves. No surprise - before sapience, environement was the _only_ place we could put our waste into, after all. It's just that with our intellect (and with our greatly grown numbers because of our intellect), we produce so much more waste and destruction that environment is not capable anymore to recycle it. Rapanui, Greece, Egypt, Israel were once green, lush environments, full of life. Humans lived there for couple centuries in large (per acre) number. Today, those places are deserts or desert-like areas. The same fate is for much of densely populated areas of present day - just wait some decades, century or two for most lucky spots, and you'll see same picture. Some places are in the middle of turning into deserts - like many countries of Europe, with forests gone or nearly gone, much land turning into desert-tile landscape, soil erosion and salination, etc. No doubt, climate warming will accelerate the process. ->

  3. ->

    Madness? No. Worse. Unevitability. Sum of objective factors and simple laws of physics, chemistry, sociology and biology which result in destruction of natural ecosystems due to lethal mutation of one species, - intelligence of humans.

    This is no joke, and nor is my own idea. Intelligence was named a fatal, terminal mutation decades ago by some very respected scientists.

    Though i pray that i (and scientists who see intelligence as indeed fatal feature for any species - including us) be wrong, i can't count on it. I.e., it well may be, as far as i know, that whatever we do, the end would be very simple: extinction of human sapiens, directly caused by biosphere becoming so hostile to us (whatever form of society we practice, even individual survival) that it would be impossible to survive. And yet, it's not our collective fault - unless it's also a guilt to eat, sleep, and have family.

    All above said, still hope exists that our defining feature - our intellect, - will be enough to overcome the difficulties of surviving _without_ support of natural ecosystems. This, despite being extremely difficult and not at all certain-to-achieve, task, - is the only way for true sustainability of mankind. Because, again, nature - the biosphere which was defined by blind forces of natural selection, - is impossible to maintain on a planet which has rational, intelligent species who developed their tools to widespread electricity usage and beyond.

    Good luck to us all.