Some observations on the state of the world's environment, and the prospects for the future.
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1. Mankind’s large population and high level of industrial activity is exterminating 30,000 species a year (see http://www.overpopulation.org for an abstract of E. O. Wilson’s The Field Guide to the Sixth Extinction for more about this). Under even the most optimistic World Bank and UN population projections, the human population is expected to increase for at least half a century, and industrial activity to increase indefinitely. These projections imply that unless a major famine, plague, war, or other catastrophe occurs to dramatically reduce human numbers and industrial activity, the environmental destruction and species extinction will continue for a very long time. It is now well documented that global warming is well under way (see Time, December 13, 1999 or http://www.climatehotmap.org for global warning indicators map). Continuing high human population levels and industrial activity are destroying the planet’s biodiversity at an incredibly rapid rate. In order to stop the rapid destruction of natural habitat and biodiversity, it is necessary to bring about a dramatic reduction in human population and industrial activity – immediately, not in fifty, one hundred, or two hundred years. With every passing week, the world population increases by over a million people, relentlessly destroying habitat and exterminating species.
2. Waiting for a century or two for a hypothetical worldwide "demographic transition" to reduce global human population will accomplish nothing but the destruction of at least half of the planet’s estimated ten million species. The chance of a demographic transition ever reducing human population is zero, because it is not in the interest of economic development to do so. Even countries such as the US that have achieved very high levels of economic development press for even greater population increases and more economic activity (e.g., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy). The US’ fertility rate dropped to below-replacement levels years ago, but the government policy is still massive population and economic growth, now through immigration (currently at a level of one million people per year). China's fertility rate is also below replacement level -- a perfect example that countries wait until it is entirely too late to do anything about overpopulation. The current world population of six billion is strangling the planet, but no nation on Earth today is proposing to reduce its population to help address this problem. Time is running out. Extinction is forever. Because of the massive species extinction now underway ("the greatest mass extinction since the time of the dinosaurs"), there is tremendous pressure for an immediate solution to the problem.
3. All world political leaders want more economic development, not less. It is absurd to believe that the world population or economic activity will ever drop of its own accord, as some suggest. As Professor Walter Heller, former Chairman of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers once remarked, "I cannot conceive a successful economy without growth." As King Solomon noted, "A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined." All world leaders want to maintain their populations and to increase economic activity. This has always been and will always be. The suggestion by the United Nations, the World Bank, and other development organizations that in a couple of hundred years all nations will mysteriously reduce their populations and economic activity is absurd. No industrial nation has ever done this willingly, or even proposes to do it. All industrial nations are addicted to and committed to economic growth. All political leaders point to increased economic activity as a measure of success. To suggest otherwise, in the face of contrary evidence, is preposterous – a blatant, "doublespeak" lie. It is worse than a lie – it is a pernicious deception with fatal consequences for the planet and all its future generations of life. After the passage of time shows this to be a total fallacy, it will be too late – the species will be gone, and the planet’s biodiversity gone. The only time for effective action is now, before the species are gone and global warning is extreme. This opportunity is knocking only once.
4. At current rates of consumption, the world’s petroleum reserves will be exhausted in about fifty years. The rates of consumption are in fact about to increase dramatically, since both China and India, representing about one-third of the world’s population, have both announced plans to industrialize rapidly. Worldwide, solar energy can support at most 500 million people at a very low standard of living, or about five million people at a high standard of living. Advocates of solar energy point to wonderfully successful solar-energy projects, without mentioning the fact that solar energy alone can sustain only a fraction of the world's current population. No practical alternative source of energy has been found to replace fossil fuels. When they are gone, the world will be restricted to its daily solar energy budget. See Jay Hanson’s web site, http://www.dieoff.com for much information on the dependence of industrial activity on energy availability (not on "technology").
5. If industrial activity were to continue for another century or two at current rates, most of the planet's species would be extinct. Because fossil fuels are running out, however, industrial activity cannot continue at present levels for more much longer. Without access to the massive amount of energy that fossil fuels now deliver, the world's population will inevitably decline -- substantially and rapidly. In about fifty years or so, the Earth's population will decline to 500 million or less, because petroleum will be gone and that number is all that the planet's solar energy budget will support. The only real issue to address is whether we reach that point with a planet still filled with biodiversity, or one that is destroyed. And that outcome depends on whether the human population is reduced now, by decisive action, or in fifty years, by external factors. On an evolutionary time scale, the current species extinction -- solely caused by mankind's overpopulation and industrial activity -- is occurring in an instant in time. "Tomorrow" will be too late -- the planet's biodiversity will be destroyed. The situation is perilous, and calls for "radical surgery."
6. Environmentalism is a lost cause. The massive species extinction caused by human overpopulation and industrial activity has been recognized and discussed for decades, but no effective action has ever been taken to remedy the situation, even though it is a "life-or-death" one for the planet. Politicians laud as great successes the cleaning up of a polluted river or lake, or the saving of an endangered species, or the setting-aside of a nature reserve, ignoring the fact that 30,000 species are destroyed every year by mankind's activities. The global conferences and international treaties aimed at stemming the destruction of biodiversity have failed totally. The handful of committed environmental or population-reduction activists are powerless to save the planet in the face of a world dedicated to industrial activity and the generation of material wealth for human beings, regardless of the risk to other species, the environment, or even future generations of humankind. World leaders are calling for more economic development, not less, even though it is causing the "sixth extinction," and could cause the death of the planet. The money is on their side, and they will get their way.
7. Because of the population explosion and industrial development, the likelihood of nuclear war is increasing dramatically, for several reasons. First is the increasing overcrowding and hopelessness of life for massive numbers of people: the "politics of envy" drives the "have nots" to destroy the material riches that they can never possess. The information explosion and proliferation of plutonium have made nuclear technology and the ability to construct atomic bombs readily available to terrorist groups and rogue nations. (As the world supply of fossil fuel runs out, nuclear energy is a long-term solution only if "fast-breeder" reactors, which produce plutonium, are used. The amount of plutonium available worldwide is about to increase very much.) Finally, nuclear war is currently the most effective way, perhaps the only feasible way, of bringing about an immediate and substantial reduction in human population size and industrial activity – the root causes of the planet’s environmental destruction and species loss. No other proposed solution to the population / environment / species-extinction problem accomplishes this. Indeed, all other proposed courses of action result in continued environmental destruction, species extinction, decreased biodiversity, increased greenhouse gasses and, inevitably, a ruined planet. Peaceful means have been tried for decades, and have failed utterly to solve the problem. Continued species destruction will have fatal consequences for the planet -- a solution must be found, and immediately. In view of the fact that war can accomplish immediate reductions in population and industrial activity, and no other course of action can, it is difficult to imagine that it will not occur. War has solved population problems in the past, and it will solve them in the future.
8. The world political situation has been characterized as "the West (industrial nations) against the rest." Because rampant industrial activity is destroying the planet, it is now also a case of the environment versus industry. With the amount of plutonium that has now been "lost" by nuclear powers, rogue nations or terrorist groups can produce at least one thousand "suitcase"-sized atomic bombs, which can be hand-carried to targets. (Because plutonium bombs are portable, a full-scale nuclear war no longer requires bombers or missiles -- a small number of committed individuals can accomplish it.) If these bombs were to be launched in an optimal planet-wide "green" attack against cities that represent the major source of environmental destruction and biodiversity loss, three-quarters of the planet’s city population would be destroyed. In this attack, 103 countries (out of 229) are attacked. The most heavily targeted countries are China (270 cities attacked), the United States (182 cities attacked), Brazil (86 cities attacked), Russia (68 cities attacked), Japan (43 cities attacked), India (42 cities attacked), and Canada (25 cities attacked). Will YOU survive? Unlikely, if you live in a large city.
9. Why does this "green" attack matter to you? Because nuclear war is the only identified feasible solution to the population / environment / species-destruction problem, and because a solution is needed urgently (a solution in fifty years is too late), it is likely to occur. It therefore affects you very much, no matter how much you may oppose it. It is very much in your interest to be aware of what cities are likely to be targeted in an "optimal" green attack. Moreover, once it is widely recognized that an optimal green attack can and likely will solve the overpopulation problem, it may be possible to mitigate its undesirable effects, preserve what is good in our civilization, and rebuild a better (ecologically sustainable) planet Earth. (That a full-scale nuclear war is the only effective means of solving the overpopulation problem in time to avoid the loss of most of the world's biodiversity is not admitted to or discussed by the world's industrial nations. They are utterly defenseless against a "suitcase-delivered" nuclear attack. That is one reason why, to this day, the US has no civilian defense plan against nuclear attack.)
10. Who would resort to war to solve the population / species-extinction / environment problem? Throughout history, many people have believed that war is a very necessary and desirable aspect of human society. These include respected philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, St. Thomas Acquinas, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and revered religious leaders such as Moses, Joshua, David, and Mohammad. Jesus expressed no objection to it ("Render unto Caesar…"). The last fifty years of peace (human population explosion, explosive economic development) has been far more destructive to the environment and the planet’s biodiversity than war ever was. Full-scale nuclear war is a likely solution to the population problem, because no other proposed solution will work – the massive annual species loss and growing greenhouse-gas problem calls for an immediate solution, not one a century or two in the future. It is difficult to imagine that all of mankind will simply sit by and watch the "slow death" of the planet. The nuclear genie is out of the bottle, and it is indeed "the West against the rest." It is just a matter of time until nuclear war occurs, and it is well to prepare for it.
11. Francis Fukuyama (in his book The End of History and the Last Man) argues that no governmental system can long survive once it has lost its legitimacy. The current planetary governmental system is failing to address the pressing issues that threaten the planet's biological existence. The liberal democracies of the world, with their emphasis on uncontrolled human population growth and unfettered economic activity, have plunged the planet into an environmental and ecological crisis of unprecedented proportions. Their policies and actions are ruining the planet and are jeopardizing the existence not only of mankind but of all living species. A liberal democracy is a fabulous form of government for enabling the individual to achieve his full potential and a rich, fulfilling life, but it can continue to thrive only in a low-population, energy-rich environment. Once the population's industrial activity reaches the point at which it starts causing planetary-scale changes in the biosphere, the system is no longer viable. The current global system of 229 politically independent economies all champing at the bit to outproduce each other is ruining the planet. Under the current system, the planet is racing to oblivion in a frenzy of economic activity. The global system of independent industrial nations jeopardizes the planet's biological existence, and has therefore lost legitimacy as a viable form of planetary government. To avoid a ruined planet requires a governmental framework that addresses the serious problem that the planet faces. A single planetary government is required.
12. This web site does not advocate the use of full-scale nuclear war to solve the population / species-extinction / environment problem. Nuclear war is not a good solution -- it is a terrible solution -- but it may be the most likely solution, for the many reasons discussed above. What makes the problem so intractable is "We have met the enemy, and it is us!" The book Can America Survive? at Internet web site http://www.foundationwebsite.org discusses the preceding concepts in greater detail. If you agree that a nuclear-war solution does indeed appear to be a likely result of the overpopulation problem, let us know what you would do to prepare for and respond to its occurrence. If you disagree that nuclear war appears to be the only viable solution to saving the planet’s biodiversity, please let us know your proposed solution.
Copyright © 2000 Vista Research Corporation. All rights reserved. Updated 25 December 2000.