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Valedictory: The Age of Overshoot


In the 21st century, known as a time-marker only to humans, planet Earth swirls through the cosmic universe with indolent disinterest as to the two-legged species destroying its balancing systems.

“Civilizations have overused their resources before, and collapsed or moved on, but never on a scale remotely resembling the present threat, and now Earth is full,” said Lindsey Grant, author of VALEDICTORY: The Age of Overshoot.  “There is a fatal disconnect between our national policies, which are geared toward faster economic growth, and our growing scientific understanding of limits to growth.  This country and much of the world are driving into those limits, and only a fundamental rethinking of growth will spare us that future.”

Grant provides a sobering comprehension of tomorrow in America.  He connects the dots as to environmental denigration at the national and personal level. The March 2008 PEW report predicts 138 million added Americans by 2050 while the planetary human population grows from 6.7 billion reaches 9.2 billion.

Interesting that no national or international leaders express one word about humanity’s accelerating dilemma!  Grant illustrates how we live in two mutually uncomprehending worlds: scientists document that we destroy our planet’s balancing systems while economists call for more growth and economic activity.


* Massive amounts of manufactured gases and heavy metals exhaust into the biosphere and alter their balances and flows.
* We are changing the composition of the atmosphere.
* We warm and acidify the oceans.
* We dramatically alter hydrological flows and overuse fresh water.We have created two million chemicals and genetic modifications.
* We cause the extinction of other species at an unknown rate. (Estimates show 100 species suffer extinction from humanity every 24 hours.)
Grant pulls no punches!  A glance at worldwide consequences manifest in climate change, fresh water shortages, desertification, competition for arable land, explosion of harmful chemicals, continuing loss of forests, and more crowded/conflicted societies.

Time Magazine, March 14, 2006 showed eight million humans die of starvation worldwide annually.  The World Health Organization reports that 20,000 children under the age of 10 die of starvation or starvation related diseases 24/7.

Grant renders a litany of energy dilemmas that cascade into food production consequences across the planet.  Yields and outputs remain static planet-wide.  Humans overdraw water from dams and underground aquifers. World fish stocks provide only three percent of human intake.  Nonetheless, world stocks decline from over-harvesting.

Grant paints a sobering picture with readily empirical facts. In the middle of the book, he said, “Would the problems described be better met with a larger population, or a smaller one?  Potential energy solutions are hostage to population growth.  Anthropogenic climate change is the result of rising human populations.  The common thread in these issues is the need to systematically reduce the immense human impact on global systems.”

China expects 1.5 billion by 2050.   India may exceed 1.6 billion. Astoundingly, Bangladesh, at 144 million people, with a landmass the size of Iowa, expects to double its population in four decades!    Africa will double from 752 million to 1.7 billion.  “They face,” Grant says, “desperate futures that will probably affect us…they will go through a population collapse driven by rising mortality.”

America follows as the third fastest growing nation in the world, but its growth occurs primarily via immigration from overloaded countries.   U.S. cities suffer with gridlocked traffic and thick blankets of air pollution.  Water shortages face Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles, California and many other cities. 

“The result of growth is an increasingly frantic and crowded nation,” Grant said. “I would submit that we have lost more than we have gained as we have lost the sense of space and silence that the country once enjoyed.  Crowding detracts from human well-being, and crowding is a function of sheer numbers.”

Grant chastises the White House, environmentalist organizations like the Sierra Club, the press and scientists.   All of them stray away or twiddle their thumbs concerning root causes of all our population consequences.   He addresses fossil fuel energy giving us quite a ride from 1900 to 2008.  No longer!

He sees towering obstacles before us as to religions and social habits intertwined with population growth.  What can we expect for our future viability on this planet? Simple: we must institute negative population growth down to a sustainable level in the United States and across the planet.  It means universal birth control for all people in all countries. It means rational actions as to human population to allow the planet to maintain a sustainable future for all living creatures.  I highly recommend this book for anyone concerned about the future of the United States of America and this planet.

VALEDICTORY: The Age of Overshoot

By Lindsey Grant


2861 Duke Street, Ste 36

Alexandria, VA   22314

Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border.  In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece.  He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges.  He works to bring about sensible world population balance at his website www.frostywooldridge.com