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Humans Pushing Planet Earth Beyond Capacity.
October 20, 2000 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Humans Pushing Planet Earth Beyond Capacity.

Kiss your asses good bye.

I say, good f**kin' riddance.
posted by Mr. skullhead (34 comments total)

 
The alarming claim by the WWF is that, even at today's levels of economic activity, the human race is operating 30 percent above what the Earth can provide without suffering serious damage.

wow, i miss "Smackdown!" one week, and look what the WWF is up to...
posted by pnevares at 4:15 PM on October 20, 2000


they *really* need another name.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

i can't read that article without picturing buffed nature-activists in brightly colored tights.....


posted by th3ph17 at 4:16 PM on October 20, 2000


Looks like it is time for another big ground war. If possible let's make the baby boomers fight it this time, then we can save social security too.
posted by thirteen at 4:34 PM on October 20, 2000


The closing line about the first world having to decide to consume less made me laugh. The first world will never consume less, that's how they maintain their "first" status. What the WWF, and many before them (can we say Malthus?) ignore, is two things. One, humans, and indeed pretty much all living things, grow as long as they can, to the limits of their ability to gather food, and avoid their own wastes. This is why most animals are restricted to singular, ecological niches...there aren't any cows in Alaska, nor are there polar bears in Texas...well, outside of zoo's. But people are in both places because reason number Two, technology. Much like Moore's law in semiconductors, agricultural technology has kept apace with the needs of humanity (saddly, the ethical technology to provide food to all hasn't quite been developed yet). While time will tell wether or not we rise to the occasion "this time", it is certainly not "impossible" for humanity to continue to grow. Renewable energy sources, bioplastics , nanochemistry, and even genetic engineering, all could enable us to overcome today's problems, and more. Or they could damn us. Humanity will most likely be riding the dangerous edge of technology for some time to come. Anybody who thinks the rest of the world will just give up, isn't paying attention to history.
posted by nomisxid at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2000


I was surprised they didn't mention renewable sources, solar power, and hydoponic farming. Very feasible technology and getting more practical everyday, but what will make first world nations take this stuff seriously? Our environment friendly VP chocked on raising CAFE standards and most people see these technologies belonging in some Bucky Fuller amusement park. "Living in a dome without air conditioning! HaHa!"

There will be a change, what sets it off will probably be mass starvation when the big mac goes for $38 inflation fixed dollars sometime this century. Shoddy products, marketing blaze, groupthink, and landfills keep the first nations going. Leaving cosumerism sounds like a scary idea, but so did losing slave labor, child labor, debtor's prison, etc.
posted by skallas at 5:36 PM on October 20, 2000


"time for another big ground war"
As appealing as that is, it wouldn't (likely) kill enough people. What we need to do is commit systematic mass-murder. It would be easy to start up a nice genocidal campaign, but realistically we need to kill with an even hand. No particular social, political or cultural group should be singled out for survival or death. Everyone must suffer equally.

Look at the person next to you. Now kill them. No death camps, no bombings, just a massive wave of interpersonal violence. Nice, easy, ecologically sound, and feasible today! Who wants to wait & pray for sustainable technologies, when it's so much easier to just begin killing people?

If everyone would just accept this simple little plan, we could be rid of 3 billion people in a matter of days. And, as an added bonus, I'd be in a position to seize power and solve all of life's little problems for you....
posted by aramaic at 5:40 PM on October 20, 2000


I've been wanting to post this for a while:

Calculate your ecological footprint

Gives a sense of the kinds of variables that contribute to a sustainable lifestyle, as well as the quantities involved.
posted by johnb at 6:08 PM on October 20, 2000


Of course we're pushing the planet beyond it's boundries. We're humans. We're good at killing stuff.
posted by tomorama at 6:12 PM on October 20, 2000


I think many MeFi folks might enjoy a visit to here:
http://www.churchofeuthanasia.org/

"suicide, abortion, cannibalism, sodomy"

Population REDUCTION! Oh Yeah. Dada as all get out, but man, do they make some good points.
posted by acridrabbit at 6:13 PM on October 20, 2000


Your Eco-Footprint measures 40.2 % of an average American Footprint.

those are my results...does that mean i am doing swell? or that i should get out more? The food questions are what really got me.
posted by th3ph17 at 6:20 PM on October 20, 2000


Your Eco-Footprint measures 116.1 % of an average American Footprint.

i am a very very bad man....
posted by pnevares at 6:38 PM on October 20, 2000


No wait, lets put the power of the internet to good use. pnevares and th3ph17 should move in together a la Odd Couple to balance each other out. We can even webcast it.


posted by skallas at 6:41 PM on October 20, 2000


Last chance to evacuate Earth before it's recycled.
posted by kindall at 6:44 PM on October 20, 2000


My footprint:

Error Occurred While Processing Request
Error Diagnostic Information
ODBC Error Code = 37000 (Syntax error or access violation)
[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]Line 1: Incorrect syntax near '.0'.



It crashed a MS server, which isn't saying much.
posted by skallas at 6:51 PM on October 20, 2000


Your Eco-Footprint measures 55.1   % of an average American Footprint.

I wanna see JohnB's
posted by thirteen at 7:03 PM on October 20, 2000


My commute let me down in the transportation part, but my footprint is 62.7% of an average American footprint, which made me think, "Hey, I'm not doing too badly." But wait! -- My footprint uses up 6.4 hectares when the available space worldwide is only 2.2 hectares per person. Maybe we should be looking at our hectares and acres, and not at how we compare to the average American.

I feel so bad now about all the space I'm taking up that I want to buy some black Nikes and a purple cloak. Aramaic's idea sounds like "a modest proposal". We should add to it and eat our babies, too.
posted by aprilgem at 7:47 PM on October 20, 2000


If you really want to save the earth, turn off your computer. Says George Gilder in today's WSJ:

With each Web device draining as much as a megawatt-hour a year, a billion always-on Internet computers--together with the factories that build them and scores of billions of watt-hungry embedded processors--will account for an estimated total of four thousand trillion watt-hours, or close to half of the world's current electricity use. With the restrictions negotiated in Kyoto, a global broadband Internet cannot happen.

Full article here.
posted by lileks at 9:12 PM on October 20, 2000


Renewable energy sources, bioplastics , nanochemistry, and even genetic engineering, all could enable us to overcome today's problems, and more.

This is the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Until we solve our basic problem, which is that there are too many of us, we will just push back the inevitable catastrophe and make it worse when it hits. Technologies that enable us to squeeze more people onto the planet do not help us as long as we keep producing more people - they just make the price of staying in the same place higher.

I'm really happy to see the movement against biotech foods, both because the technology is way too new to be trusted, and because we simply don't need any improvements in agricultural technology until we've got the population problem under control.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:26 PM on October 20, 2000


mars--

i am pretty open minded on this issue, although my general belief is that people can't really "control" their numbers as if we were all part of some common mind.

But what what makes you think there are too many of us? Do you think there has ever been a time in human history when someone living deep inside the multitudes wouldn't say that there are "too many"?

I wonder how many is too many, and where and how you could ever draw the line...
posted by chaz at 12:19 AM on October 21, 2000


But what what makes you think there are too many of us?

The fact that we're consuming resources at a faster rate than the earth is producing them is a pretty good sign! Resources are limited; there's only so much of the planet to go around. No matter how much technology we invent, how high we jack up the efficiency of our food production systems, there's still only so much air, water, and land.

Besides, even if we could figure out a way to fit even twice as many people on the planet (which we probably can't) why would we want to? Aren't things crowded, polluted, noisy, and dirty enough already?

Do you think there has ever been a time in human history when someone living deep inside the multitudes wouldn't say that there are "too many"?

Probably not, but this is the first time in human history where there's nothing you can do to escape those multitudes. There's no more frontier, no more wilderness to settle, no way out.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:48 AM on October 21, 2000


mars

isn't there always a way out for us? Don't we always find a way to expand space, time, and our very beings?


I know there is a way outside myself, and therefore i know there is a way out for my kind. when land becomes to small we will find land, even if it means reinventing what 'land' is.

I don't think it's a matter of 'want' to do it. I hope our consciousness can change from being survive to being 'live well'. Because anyone who thinks we're living well right now, can't see that we're just surviving-- the way we've degraded our resources and true beauty for such slight material delights...

there's no where you can go to escape the multitudes? what then, do you call metafilter?
posted by chaz at 1:10 AM on October 21, 2000


Hold on, there is a group we can target. The Dumb. Not those with any sort of mental disabilty, just the stupid. Then they wouldn't even be able to reproduce, and America could be great again!

Your Eco-Footprint measures 119 % of an average American Footprint. What a bastard I am.
posted by owillis at 1:36 AM on October 21, 2000


Well done, Thirteen. But will that number go up or down when you move to the (tall) island? You may have some misanthropic tendencies, but perhaps you can compensate for them through peaceful coexistence with other (less garrulous) species?

Here's what I got: "Your Eco-Footprint measures 31.5 % of an average American Footprint."

To the extent that this is a good score, it's mostly due to two factors:

Food: "As a vegan with a lean physique" (allusion), I did well in this category.

Transportation: I'm a committed pedestrian and have been car-free for several years. Of course, I live in downtown San Francisco, so it's not much of a sacrifice. I say: any city-dweller who owns a car is a wimp.

So. Selling your car and moving to a city or pedestrian-friendly college town is one way to drastically reduce your ecological footprint -- and has the added benefit of cutting the risk of auto accidents (a leading cause of premature death). Another good way is to give up animal-products -- which has the added benefit of improving your overall health and cutting risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke (three other leading causes of death).

Not to mention the moral and aesthetic benefits of a world without fossil fuel consumption and animal torture/genocide.

Ahem. So that's my sermon for the week. I hope these facts make at least a few people feel slightly-guilty-in-a-motivating-way rather than excessively-guilty-in-an-apathy-inducing-way :)
posted by johnb at 1:50 AM on October 21, 2000


Your Eco-Footprint measures 126.6 % of an average American Footprint.

bah.
posted by redleaf at 3:32 AM on October 21, 2000


misanthropic? I thought I was all about the love.
I suspect it will go down, as islands with more acres get more expensive. I think I would have done better, but when there was any confusion about which button to click, I took the one that used more. I will have stopped eating meat by the time I get to the island, my 25miles a week in the car will disappear, and my public transportation will evaporate to zero.
When I am president of my island, I will spend most of my time complaining about America.
Off to look up information about composting toilets and solar power....
posted by thirteen at 7:54 AM on October 21, 2000


OK, so I got 41.7% - but as aprilgem points out, I still use almost twice the acreage allocated to me. What a wasteful lot you 'average' Americans are!
We should start a collective and buy 'Thirteen Island' between us - among the members here I should think we'd be able to survive pretty independantly. I aleady bagged bee-keeper.
(BTW Thirteen - I made my bee-house this morning, now I just have to wait until spring for my first visitors, thanks for the info :)
posted by Markb at 9:34 AM on October 21, 2000


"Your Eco-Footprint measures 152.3% of an average American Footprint."

What do you expect? I am the ratbastard.
posted by ratbastard at 11:58 AM on October 21, 2000


Heh heh... this is quite a disturbing, yet entertaining thread. I can't believe no one has suggested Sarin gas or the Neutron bomb yet. ...

Carry on folks! This thread just needed a cameo by the gOdOfMiScHiEf, that's all! :0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 12:21 PM on October 21, 2000


There is plenty of space, well, in space, so let's stop complaining and worrying, and make an effort to get of this little rock.
posted by Zool at 3:21 PM on October 21, 2000


johnb:
I say: any city-dweller who owns a car is a wimp.

I'd agree with that, except that sometimes I actually want to leave the city, and without my trusty gas efficient mini-jeep, I'd be stuck. How do you solve THAT problem, eh?

Zool:
There is plenty of space, well, in space, so let's stop complaining and worrying, and make an effort to get of this little rock.

Space is irrelevant. The human population grows by 250,000 people every day. Getting that many people off earth is an insanely expensive endeavour. Disregard, for the moment, the fact that there's nowhere to put people once you get them into space, and just consider the problem of getting into Earth orbit. You'd have to launch a spacecraft with the passenger capacity of a 747 every three minutes, round the clock, just to break even.

We don't have the technology to build one such behemoth, much less thousands of them. Even if we could build this fleet, the entire energy resources available to the human race wouldn't be enough to put them into orbit.

By the time we develop the technology to allow significant numbers of human beings to emigrate, and develop the technology that allows them to stay alive when they land wherever it is they're going, we'll either all be dead, or we'll have solved the population problem some other way.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:47 PM on October 21, 2000


Mars, rent a car. Everytime I drive out of town, that’s what I do. Insanely inexpensive compared to owning. And rental companies who won’t let you if you’re under 24 are discriminating. If you haggle with a manager they’ll give you the keys.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 6:06 PM on October 21, 2000


said johnb:

So. Selling your car and moving to a city or pedestrian-friendly college town is one way to drastically reduce your ecological footprint -- and has the added benefit of cutting the risk of auto accidents (a leading cause of premature death). Another good way is to give up animal-products -- which has the added benefit of improving your overall health and cutting risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke (three other leading causes of death).

A bit ironic - cutting your ecological footprint means you're more likely to be around longer, to use up more natural resources than you would if you died younger...

I wonder what the point of equilibrium is.
posted by iblog at 10:15 PM on October 21, 2000


No sarin gas needed -- we just need a good, solid, pandemic.
posted by norm at 1:02 PM on October 23, 2000


No sarin gas needed -- we just need a good, solid, pandemic.

A massive distributed biological engineering project involving thousands of laboratories and millions of test sites across the USA is currently attempting to do that. By selectively breeding bacteria impervious to antibiotics, this effort will create an invincible superbug - if not within our lifetimes, within the next generation's. Your prayers will be answered!

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:13 PM on October 23, 2000


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