This book rivets readers via the fact that you can ‘see’ it in action today all over the planet. For example: all the news and talk shows for the past week spent hours on the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis.
As a prophetic reminder, in 1950 Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We must stop running around trying to save ourselves after a tragedy has already occurred. Unfortunately, history clearly shows that we arrive at catastrophe by failing to act when we should have acted. The opportunity passes us by and the next disaster is always more difficult and compounded than the last one.”
In the most advanced society in the world prior to Hurricane Katrina, engineers at LSU warned politicians in New Orleans and Louisiana that levees were not sufficient to protect the city in case of a category 4 or 5 hurricane. Nobody listened to the academics! We know what happened.
Engineers provided warnings and notice of deficient structural integrity for more than 100,000 US bridges for years—true to form politicians and officialdom proved impotent.
Now we hear TV pundits lament, "We take our infrastructure for granted...why wasn't something done when the deficiency ratings were issued?"
On an environmental note from (Weks-ka-op)“Wecskaop: What Every Citizen Should Know About Our Planet” by August Anson, here is an environmental thought:
“The planet's top biologists and climatologists have been warning about the damage that our exploding numbers are doing to earth's environmental infrastructure for thirty years.
“Guess what? The politicians and officialdom (and network television /
mainstream media) pay no attention to the scientists either. We are, on a planet wide basis, doing nothing.
“In other words, we are taking the earth's environmental infrastructure for granted despite serious alarm bells that have been sounding among top scientists for decades.
“In this case, however, it is not a single city or bridge that is going to reap the whirlwind--it is our entire planetary life-support infrastructure that we are putting at risk.”
Anson writes about, “density-dependent feedbacks” realized by all animal species. Growth climbs along an S-curve until it levels out with deaths matching births. At present, the human population growth curve mimics the exponential aspects of a J-curve in a nuclear detonation. In fact, we’re in the closing stages of that curve!
Unfortunately, Americans think along the lines of linear mathematics. Anson said, “Our early schooling leaves us ill-prepared to interpret number sequences that are behaving in an exponential or non-linear fashion.”
Anson illustrates our growth in a simple experiment of using dinoflagellates as a metaphor for human growth. Dr. Albert Bartlett of Colorado University invented the experiment for his brilliant presentation on human growth. I’ve seen the lecture in person. I wish the whole U.S. Congress would see it! He portrays where unlimited growth ‘seems’ like no problem until it becomes a dilemma that, like the I-35 bridge, creates a disaster. The organism dies off in huge numbers with total collapse.
Anson’s Chapter 12 floored me! “Thresholds are points that denote a limit or boundary, whether known or unknown that result in serious or dramatic changes when transgressed. The boiling point of water is such a boundary. It will remain a liquid until one more degree of heat is added to create a tipping point to transform water into steam.”
From a wildlife standpoint, when we kill off millions of prairie dogs, we create a cascading effect of species extinctions that escape our knowledge. A prairie dog supports 67 other species. Once they lose the rodent, they become part of a landslide extinction process. Given enough time, humans may undermine their entire food chain without knowing it. Today, bee populations vanish in ever greater numbers from chemicals. Who, pray tell, will pollinate the worlds flowers and crops?
Our ‘unknowing’ of our actions’ consequences mean little to natural systems. “All our excuses do nothing to mitigate the effects of a calamitous blunder,” Anson said.
“Today a poor, hungry and rapacious humanity lays waste to earth’s biota and natural systems at rates unparalleled in human history,” Anson said. “How much worse might this become in the decades to come?”
How many people can the earth handle at our standard of living? If we care to maintain the animals on the planet and honor their existence, Anson estimates that two billion humans could live in perpetuity at our present standard of living.
News flash! We exceeded earth’s carrying capacity 80 years ago!
Anson covers not only the natural world, but shows where the Arab world suffers 30 percent unemployment today with 258 million people on its way to 439 million by 2030. Can you imagine the political, educational and emotional chaos of such numbers? If we see terrorists being developed today by the “X” generation in the Middle East, can you imagine when their population nearly doubles in 25 years? Anson portends third world poor streaming into first world countries for a better life. That occurs in Europe and the United States today.
Near the end of the book, Anson answers questions that average citizens might ask. He answers every excuse and every ‘feel good’ question promoted by TV, radio and print media. You’ll gain an education beyond your wildest thoughts.
What can we do for our planet? Anson said, “Over the next three decades: governments must immediately and aggressively plan, fund and implement a conservative roadmap for the future. Unless you think that we need to add 600,000 people every three days to the planet, it’s time to get real and get on with population stabilization. Next, publishers and educators must promote environmental sciences as prerequisites to graduation. We must increase our educated and active citizens to work toward a common goal of planetary sustainability. Next, presidents and world leaders must read “Wecskaop” and other books to familiarize themselves with what humanity faces. Then, initiate action at the highest levels. Religious leaders worldwide must come to grips with antiquated ‘unlimited births’ paradigms before humanity suffers unlimited deaths.
In the end, print and broadcast journalists must write and produce stories on what humanity faces both good and bad.
Wasn’t it the comics Laurel and Hardy who said, “This is a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.”
What are the consequences for humanity and the natural world if “Wecskaop” should happen to be in error? “If we heed its cautions,” Anson said, “we will slow our rate of growth, educate all citizens on our planet, ensure that vast regions of earth’s biomes are set aside and protected from roads and human intrusion, and we will expend our treasure and/or efforts to make life, health care, education, cities and opportunities better for populations existing today---instead of frantically keeping up with an avalanche of infrastructure and social needs generated by an additional billion people followed by another and another in the decades to come.”
Eleanor Roosevelt agrees!