The Delusion of Miracles

Excerpts from George Monbiot’s recent article in the Guardian:
“Plastic Soup” “The problem is not plastic. It is consumerism.”


“Do you believe in miracles? Plenty of people imagine we can carry on as we are, as long as we substitute one material for another.

The problem is pursuing, on the one planet known to harbor life, a four-planet lifestyle. Regardless of what we consume, the sheer volume of consumption is overwhelming the Earth’s living systems.

The most obvious is the fishing industry. Throughout the oceans, this industry, driven by our appetites and protected by governments, is causing cascading ecological collapse.

Buying prawns causes many times more damage to marine life than any plastic in which they are wrapped. Prawn fishing has the highest rates of bycatch of any fishery: scooping up vast numbers of turtles and other threatened species. Prawn farming eliminates great tracts of mangrove forests, crucial nurseries for thousands of species.

But we cannot address our environmental crisis by swapping one over-used resource for another. The answer to the question “how should we live?” is “simply”.

The problems we face are structural: a political system captured by commercial interests and an economic system that seeks endless growth.”

Author’s comments:

It is obvious that Monbiot’s above comments involve the endless growth in consumption of our planet’s scarce resources. This, of course, results both from the population explosion on the planet and the incessant human desire for more and better food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment. We all seem compelled to replace ourselves with enough offspring to not only offset the loss of our person but to continually increase the population of consumers on the planet. And we are in a bit of a trap in considering any solution to such a process.

There were 1 billion people on the planet as of about 1800, 2 billion by about 1925 (125 years), 3 billion by about 1960 (35 years), 4 billion by about 1975 (15 years), 5 billion by about 1990 (15 years), 6 billion by about 2000 (10 years), 7 billion by about 2010 (10 years), and 7.6 billion by 2018 (8 years). So, in 218 years the population of the planet has grown by a factor of 7.6, an average of about 30 million additional consumers annually.

From 2010 to 2018 the increase has averaged about 85 million additional consumers annually. Based on this rate of growth we will have 8 billion by 2022, 9 billion by 2030, and 10 billion by 2040. And where she stops, nobody knows! This would be like adding another country with a population like China or India every 10 years or adding another U. S. every 3 years.

And now comes the oxymoron, albeit one of finality at some point. Without a constant supply of young people there would not be an adequate number of workers required to provide food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment to sustain us all. We must have enough working-age people to provide adequate necessities but in so having we overpopulate the planet to the point of destroying the habitat which makes human life possible. Dead if you do and dead if you don’t. Not an inspiring choice.

Sounding an alarm for those of us who are well-seasoned individuals may be a fruitless effort in addressing this upcoming debacle, However, the young among us and those who follow should take serious heed to this history of population growth, the impact it will have on future generations and any corrective measures possible to extend human life. The outlook doesn’t seem positive considering the scientific evidence which becomes more severe on a continual basis.

We have a responsibility to future generations to correct and change any process of human consumption which will have a devastating impact on human habitation.

And here we have just discussed consumption. We haven’t even addressed the impact on human habitation we are incurring with our carbon dioxide emissions from normal transport and manufacturing or the impact of explosives which we use for nearly every facet of life, especially trying to make each other behave the way we wish, both in war and in peacetime conflict.

Think about it!

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