Scientist’s Warning to Humanity

In 1992, not long after the Rio Summit, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a warning to all of humanity. Unfortunately, little, if any, of their recommendations have been heeded. Instead, we continue along the unsustainable growth trajectory that they so deplored. Almost 1700 scientists signed the declaration, including 104 Nobel Prize winners. Here is some of what they had to say:

Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about… No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.

Warning. We the undersigned, senior members of the world’s scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated…

The Earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of Earth’s limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and developing nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair…

The developed nations are the largest polluters in the world today. They must greatly reduce their overconsumption, if we are to reduce pressures on resources and the global environment. The developed nations have the obligation to provide aid and support to developing nations, because only the developed nations have the financial resources and the technical skills for these tasks.

Acting on this recognition is not altruism, but enlightened self-interest: whether industrialized or not, we all have but one lifeboat. No nation can escape from injury when global biological systems are damaged. No nation can escape from conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. In addition, environmental and economic instabilities will cause mass migrations with incalculable consequences for developed and undeveloped nations alike.

Developing nations must realize that environmental damage is one of the gravest threats they face, and that attempts to blunt it will be overwhelmed if their populations go unchecked. The greatest peril is to become trapped in spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic, and environmental collapse.

Success in this global endeavour will require a great reduction in violence and war. Resources now devoted to the preparation and conduct of war – amounting to over $1 trillion annually – will be badly needed in the new tasks and should be diverted to the new challenges.

A new ethic is required – a new attitude towards discharging our responsibility for caring for ourselves and for the Earth. We must recognize the Earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.

The scientists issuing this warning hope that our message will reach and affect people everywhere. We need the help of many.

We require the help of the world community of scientists – natural, social, economic, political;
We require the help of the world’s business and industrial leaders;
We require the help of the world’s religious leaders; and
We require the help of the world’s peoples.
We call on all to join us in this task.

They followed this warning up with a Call to Action, in the lead up to the creation of the Kyoto Protocol. Despite its flaws, the Kyoto Protocol was the first serious global response to the threat of anthropogenic global warming. I wonder if it will require another such call to action to spur our reluctant politicians to create its successor in Copenhagen.

49 thoughts on “Scientist’s Warning to Humanity

  1. It’s a little sad really that there are as yet no comments on this very important historic observation. It tends to support the pessimistic view that all hope is lost….. :(

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  2. I know several scientists have moved to. or built retreats in the mountains as far from the city as practicable. Some are raising chickens and working at self-sufficiency off the grid. The ones who aren’t are scared for the future.

    You won’t find anyone more pessimistic here than myself. People have proven the oxymoronic nature of the label “Homo Sapiens” repeatedly, and we see more than a few examples of their blindness visiting this blog as well.

    respectfully
    BJ

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  3. kjuv,

    The world is finite, the people occupying the space has grow to unsustainable levels, when do we start the cull?

    That is the simple answer and probably why no one has commented on the post.

    Constructive answers are hard to find when there is a Homo Sapian cull required. You volunteering to be the first?

    However lets start with a few alternatives. I know BJ is keen to expand the human population into outer space. While I think the oceans spell the greatest uninhabited region where we can live, grow food and prosper in an environamentally sustainable manner. Moving large portions of the human population away from land will see the environment there return to sustainable levels.

    I dont think that, as BJ says, we retreat to the hills and grow chickens is an answer (if the 6 billion humans all did that we would make the situation worse).

    Because the human condition is so confrontational, I actualy dont see any way that rational thoughts to achieving a happy mix of environmental and human coexistence (including making the move to space or sea), is achieveable.

    The human condition is inbred tribal and as such cooperation at the level to achieve what the scientist would like to see is a pipedream.

    What will stabilise the planet will be detruction of both the environment and the human species back to naturally sustainable levels. After that the earth will regenerate a new environment (it may be different from the one we know now) for the human survivors to spend the next 40,000 years stuffing up again. And so the cycle repeats.

    Chernobal is an interesting laboratory how the earth (plant and animals) regenerates after the humans have left. There are many examples of the earth regenerating after a very short (15-30 years) time being left alone.

    I’m not pessimistic for the future, we will have an epoch making change in the world (which I may see and survive – or not).

    I just dont imagine that the higher spacial, rational and problem solving thinking traits humans are capable off, will enable the bright path forward.

    The tribal instincts in ALL of us will prevent this. Maybe we need some genetic engineering to turn the tribal instinct off?

    By tribal, look no further then the the many examples around you. Even the Green party is “tribal” in the human sense. You only need to read the comments on the postings on this blog to realise that cooperation between humans of different “tribes” is well near impossible.

    This tribal instinct is what keeps that trillion dollar a years arms race powering forward. How do we turn that instinct off that insists each tribe has to protects its own little bit of turf?

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  4. Well the Universe is a very destructive place. I’m just waiting for Rodney to appear here and debunk all them smarty scientists – purportraitors of a myth eh!!?

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  5. Marks comment is tribalism personified.

    Warmist tribe against the deniers tribe. Explains exactlty my point regarding tribalism preventing human kind working for the common good.

    All they need know is both to have access to a portion of the trillion dollar arms industry and they could really have a stauch.

    While achieving zip, zero, nada.

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  6. That’s in the Beholder’s eye Gerriot; I’m having a positive time myself…Rod has more in common with the Greens than he realizes; I just don’t want him following the ‘Crusade’ when we got other trouble to seem to – you mistake sincerity for sarcasm? That is sad – take a holiday – better still Vote Green Baby..

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  7. While I agree that the human population can’t keep increasing forever, I am optimistic that Earth can support over 6 billion people – probably well over. However it won’t be possible unless we change the way we do things.

    Growing corn and palm oil to make ethanol and other biofuels isn’t the right way. Better is growing the corn for food and using the stalks to make biofuels.

    Using cow dung to make methane is a local solution to an energy problem. Using that methane to generate electricity is better than nothing – but not by much. Better is to use that methane in vehicles and to generate the electricity directly from solar or wind power.

    Burning oil, gas and coal to generate electricity is simply unsustainable. We need to shift to solar, wind, geothermal, wave, ocean thermal, osmotic power, and/or hydro. (Unfortunately the credit crunch is causing some of these projects to be delayed or cancelled.)

    We will need to shift away from red meat.

    And transport will need to change.

    Trevor.

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  8. Chippie – tell this girl i like her bike but she’s a thousand years or so too early to holiday in Chernobyl – no you won’t hit a dog – how about a shirt full of radiation?
    Positive Trevor – and Bang on too – throw in less use of the jet engine and it’s just about all there

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  9. Ps All trying HARD Blue Baby – Go Green – you missed the sixties, but the fun ain’t all over yet!!!

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  10. BlueBaby asks – “How many of you greenies are breeders?”

    Given the recent findings that the sperm count for New Zealand men has fallen to half what it was and that men who eat organic food retain their full quota, I’d say we’re pretty good, thanks Blue. E koe?

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  11. Geenfly: he didn’t hear – off down the street lifting sewer covers and flashing a flamethrower down there – thinks the jews are breeding there – don’t worry he be out of fuel soon and we won’t wind his key up again when he runs down…

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  12. I’m with ya – Lets Not Even Start. better still!
    If I had your job I’d ban bad ACTors, National Crashes and Oblivious punks – let them go vent on their own Party

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  13. Mark said: “Positive Trevor – and Bang on too – throw in less use of the jet engine and it’s just about all there”

    Hey – I said transport will need to change. That includes air transport, not just roads. I see high speed rail replacing a significant amount of air travel, but more in the USA, Australia, etc rather than New Zealand.

    On the other hand, replacing air travel with teleconferencing, etc would also be good, so you have a point.

    Trevor.

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  14. BP,

    There is no need for everyone to stop having children. If people limited themselves to no more than 2 children, the population would start to decline. Another option is to have children later. This reduces the number of generations which are simultaneously alive (and will probably also reduce the birth rate because older women are less likely to become pregnant).

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  15. I think it is a bit late to try and change the world.
    No one wants to change the growth model so we will continue on, business as usual until that fateful day when nature strikes back or someone nukes the Saudi oilfields.
    We had a golden opportunity to link global warming to population growth and do something about population but that would be going against the growth model. So we are still arguing about what causes global warming and doing very little to try and save the planet.
    I think there should be more public awareness advertisements just letting future mothers realise that any child born this millennium will see the end of oil, the end of cheap food, the end of clean water, the end of medicine, the end of obesity, the end of electricity and the end of a few other things. I better stop here I making myself depressed.

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  16. From Global Warming thru racism childbirth and full circle.
    Skeptical about peak oil here PP: – they announced the Oil was running out in 1964 as i recall – since then, the Oil Companies brought on this recession by hiking Prices higher than ever.
    Why? Well to supply all China with it’s oil needs for the next hundred years at extortionate prices.
    Unfortunately they failed to see that they’d priced their product off the Market.
    Oil sales have not recovered since as major costs of living that are manipulated capriciously sow poison in consumer confidence.
    Especially true in an economic downturn.
    It also had the problem of extending the life of the ‘dirty fuel auto’.
    Now there is a hiatus where electic and solar/water driven cars can be intoduced as a real alternative.
    Money has stopped running to the Banks, the Insurance Corps and the Oil Companies – the three richest Businesses in the West – that’s the recession, cos they wanna take that money back off the Taxpayer (Bailout City).
    Governments however, have never been wealthier; in Nz we are simultaeneously taxed on a ‘Paye’ system, a GST system, and a ‘User Pays’ system; – one too many to be legal, or so my best advice relays…the end of oil may be the very thing that saves us.
    However – don’t see the need to give up electricity just yet – just generate it differently.
    The great benefit being that once the Power Source is created, in most cases, the Electicity itself becomes very cheap to produce and is therefore a good long-term economic proposition.
    In some senses it is too late – the Arctic has all but melted, and Antactica has become 20% smaller in the last few years…but the Planet, human life is sustainable still; we got the know-how and the money – but not the will yet…I just thought it paradoxical that all the Kyoto Reps jetted in there to review their catastrophicly cavalier attitude.
    Yet I’m real hopefull that if the new US admin is serious, then things could really change!
    Yet the end of Medicine is already well advanced and leaves me most urgently concerned – when reporting a failed kidney last week – I was told that I “had two” and not to worry.
    Not what I’d call Medical Advice.

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  17. >>If people limited themselves to no more than 2 children, the population would start to decline.

    So you know the carry capacity of the earth?

    What is that figure, and how do you arrive at it?

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  18. Oh what fun it is to ride on a children loaded sleigh!

    Mr Orwell was out of step with society, but only by 20 years which is a snap on the global scale!

    Here’s a puzzle for you!

    Given that the entire existence of Mankind is so far just a blink of the eye on the Gaia timescale, how many prior ‘dominant species’ do you think there have been in the Earth’s history? (Note for guidance, there are computer models that show that is well less than 100,000 years, ALL evidence that there was ever a ‘human society’ on the planet will have been erased for ever – not even a fossil will remain!)

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  19. I’ve really enjoyed the contributions to this post. I think that all have attempted to relate the scientists’ challenge to their personal world view.
    Blogs with topics of this tenor inevitably result in a confrontation between those of a neo-Maltusian (e.g. paranoid pete and Gerrit) bent and those of a cornucopean persuasion (e.g. Icebaby).
    Like Strings, what rings loudly to me is the need for our species to be far more humble. One can hope that out of a deep sense of humility concerning our place in nature can evolve a globally co-ordinated approach to how we need to co-exist with our natural environment while continuing to ‘evolve’ as a species. Perhaps such an undertaking could be best described by the need to attain ‘global sustainability’?

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  20. kjuv,

    I just dont think it is the nature of the human spirit to be humble and able to work together as a whole. You need to take the tribal instinct out of the humans for the human “species” to “evolve”.

    How you do that is the question. We have it in us but how to bring it out.

    You only have to look at the way we handle Treaty of Waitangi issues to see how tribal we are in New Zealand.

    That is just 4 million of us that cant “evolve” because of tribalism (from both the Maori and the Crown-Pakeha).

    That will liven up the debate!

    How do you think 6 billion will get on when tribalism gets in the way?

    Nearest we have in overcoming tribalism is the International Space Station.

    How do we replicate that on earth?

    Can you imagine the Chinese giving up their desire to expand their tribe to Taiwan? Or the Russia tribe over the former soviet block countries? Or the Jews and the Arabs?

    How to break up the tribal tendencies and get all to work towards the common good, that is the fundamental question.

    The you may be able to attain “global sustainability”. Except that Somali pirates wont subsribe.

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  21. There is a need for sure – and a lot of middle-men whose first priority is to replenish their monoply money – certain sections are plenty humble whilst plenty others whose life (as they see it) depends on a total lack of humility, responsibilty, even humanity – keeps the wars, the death of civilians (or anyone, for that matter), the material meglomania, up and running..
    Strings: You dont think for example, the great ancient city of London will leave at least a strata in vertigal archeological earth cores…?
    They found the layer where man was prey to the Master of the World – the sabre-toothed tiger.
    I concede the incredibly accurate Mayan calendar stretches for 5,000 years only to end in 2012!
    So I would ask – what sort of finale did you envisage?
    Anyway, Orwellian is a scarily accurate portrayal of the sort of thing we are seeing.
    Our humanitarian priorities seem to be in a recessive juxtaposition.

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  22. Gee Gerrit – I thought the Treaty process was a case of us humbly working together to resolve issues that got messed up because of tribal tendencies. I don’t think it represents the worst of the tribal instincts themselves. Quite the contrary.

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  23. Based on current perspectives, so eloquently outlined by both Mark and Gerrit, one has to strongly favour the view that we are creating an horrific dystopia.
    Unsurprisingly the most common response is a religious one on the lines: ‘The destiny of Man is in the hands of a superior being/inteligence etc. be that a deity or aliens or Gaia or (even) the market’. All such responses tend to deny or greatly diminish Man’s ability to fix. This is clearly in marked contrast to the, albeit short, history of our scientific achievements.
    Ironically, it is undoubtably true that science has being used to exacerbate the problems many are now identifying by means of those same scientific principles.
    If we believe that humanity needs to embrace nature with deep respect rather than having a purely utlilatarian (i.e. ‘What use can mankind make of the natural environment?’) approach, we need to direct our science – pure and (especially) applied – to seriously grapple with the problems that are now confronting us.

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  24. Yes – once people feel they have some say in how things run, some control over their lives they feel less need to band together to fight the status quo. One of the main reasons that the Somali pirates began their deadly trade was because they were desperately poor – desperate people take desperate measures.

    Until the Palestinians have a place they can call their own, they will keep on hassling Israel. Not to say this is easy or quick, but long-term solutions never are.

    I have some optimism that we can as a species learn to co-exist with each other and the planet we share – eventually. Learning is a long-slow process and we all have to want to do it, but it could happen. Whether the planet can wait that long is another matter.

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  25. >>and a lot of middle-men whose first priority is to replenish their monoply money

    Men? Are women exempt?

    >>humanity needs to embrace nature with deep respect rather than having a purely utlilatarian

    Uh-huh. Will you dispense with modern medicine? Because nature dictates your life expectancy shouldn’t be much greater than child bearing age. Around 25-30.

    We should live within our means. Market forces help ensure this happens. If energy becomes too expensive or polluting, we ramp up the alternatives.

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  26. >One of the main reasons that the Somali pirates began their deadly trade was because they were desperately poor

    To continue tribal genocide, you mean. I don’t see them building farms, hospitals and schools with the money.

    >>Until the Palestinians have a place they can call their own

    Until the Palestinians and Israelis give up their moronic “my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend” argument, nothing will change.

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  27. frog,

    the Treaty of Waitangi maybe a bad example at working out where there is common ground, however it has taken nearly one hundred years and she is still not settled.

    The time frame was more my point. You cannot let another 100 years go by to solve the worlds problems. They will literally be over, not by choice but by bad management.

    The survivors will be able to start again in a whole new environment.

    Maybe that is what we should aim for?

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  28. Icebaby, you can’t see because you haven’t looked. I have been there, in person, and seen what they do with their money and how they manage their local government structures.

    I can assure you that the local school and hospital/clinic is getting their cut. My recollection of the town where the pirates are based is that they have a small clinic, but not a hospital. (They may have a hospital now, given the recent cash influx.) They used to refer their serious cases to ours in Galkacyo or the ones in Garowe or Bossaso. The biggest deficiency in that town is/was its susceptibility to drought, which happens a lot. I have no doubt that the first infrastructure investment from the pirate money would be water related.

    As for the tribal genocide you talk about, well, you are just showing how ignorant you are. My experience is one of incredible inter-clan cooperation, even in cases where the two clans have been historical enemies, even when they are in the midst of an actual battle over some resource or patch of land.

    Somalia is buggered primarily because of the meddling of outsiders. It is perfectly capable of managing it’s own affairs.

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  29. Strange, because news reports indicate that piracy has been rife in the waters off Somalia since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. “But attacks have reached unprecedented levels due to instability onshore as the country’s interim government battles insurgents”.

    What friends of the earth they are:

    “Pirates off the Somali coast are still holding a food aid ship chartered by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), its 10 member crew, and 850 tons of rice for victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, eight weeks after seizing them. An agreement was hammered out earlier this month for their release, but the hijackers have not kept their part of the bargain, the UN agency said Friday.

    “This has gone on too long,” said WFP Country Director Robert Hauser. He is urging Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to help end the problem peacefully.

    This is the first time in WFP history that a ship carrying relief food has been hijacked. “

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  30. IceBaby
    >>and a lot of middle-men whose first priority is to replenish their monoply (sic) money . . . . . Men? Are women exempt?

    So great an example of the typical Extreme left female! I suppose you’re rather we said ‘middle-persons” which isn’t even grammatical – ‘middle-people’ would be the correct version!

    We are MANKIND, we are a species of animal that has been labelled “man”.

    Get over Political Correctness, it has ruined many good attributes of our society and MUST be stopped. Bring to the Cabinet Table the Minister for Abolition of Political Correctness and give her the power to do the job!!

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  31. I wasn’t trying to suggest that those examples were of good people being driven to do bad things (though that is often the case I suppose) but that ordinary people will do bad things when cornered – piracy and war are not solutions whoever carries them out or for whatever purpose.

    As Caraka said, the meddling of others is a large part of the problem. We ALL need to learn to use peaceful means of communication and mutual respect, between individuals, tribes and countries.

    Of course people who are feeling at their wits’ end about feeding their children are not going to have climate change as a priority.

    That won’t make it go away though – if we want to survive as a species (and not everyone sees that as a priority) then we have to learn to share the wealth and power so that everyone is included, in order to expect everyone to share the responsibility of dealing with our common dilemma. Those who have nothing have nothing to lose.

    As I said, not quick or easy, but essential.

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  32. The best population projections show that the Earth’s population will peak around the middle of this century and then go into decline because of the two powerful contraceptives known as wealth and female literacy.
    Greens are happy to embrace Peak Oil so I presume they will embrace Peak Population. The great thing is this is happening voluntarily without coercion. Indeed the lowest family replacement rates in Europe are in Italy, Spain and France – where catholic doctrine is opposed to divorce, contraception and abortion.
    Combine that with ever growing efficiency in the use of resources and better understanding of our interactions with the world around us (which is why the air is cleaner and the rivers are cleaner than they were in the population centres of the 19th Century, and we are looking forward to a golden age.

    The major threat would appear to be imminent climate change – we do seem to be heading to a long period of cooling especially down here. And anyone who thinks warming is bad should ponder whether they would chose to use a time machine to go back to the Little Ice Age or to the Medieval Warm Period.

    For notes on the cooling period go to these NASA sites and wait for the news to burst upon the world. You will wait a long time just as long as you waited to hear about what happened to the 7,000 contaminated housing sites in Auckland.

    So do take a moment to look at these two links:

    This one from NASA explains the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO):
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=8703

    This second one from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
    Administration (NOAA) describes the PDO two days ago on Christmas Day:
    http://www.osdpd. noaa.gov/ PSB/EPS/SST/ data/anomnight. 12.25.2008. gif

    Satellite image shows the PDO is back. We’re in for several decades of
    cooler climate. Note the horseshoe shape of cold water in the Pacific
    northeast. Al Gore must be crying in his beer at the lost revenue from his
    carbon capping scam.

    Chilling, eh?

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  33. >>The best population projections show that the Earth’s population will peak around the middle of this century and then go into decline because of the two powerful contraceptives known as wealth and female literacy.

    That is SO last century thinking! Three questions— (1) How can the Earth sustain 9 billion (that is the population limit predicted by the the trendy, but rather anecdotal DTM – Demographic Transition Model) with a standard of living similar to the average New Zealander? and (2) Why is so much faith placed in this DTM anyway? It is generally based on European historical data. Why do we think that the rest of the world population trends will fit into the European experience? and (3) Can we be sure that female literacy is a driver and not something less praiseworthy like rampant consumerism?

    It is also unfortunate that some environmentalists tend to hang their hat on AGW. Frankly it is immaterial whether or not any particular theory is true. However, to claim in general that we have virtualy no impact on our environment is a cop out: It is like saying that we can do what we like to the environment but we will refuse to take any responsibility for our actions.
    What is important is that there is an urgent need for mankind to develop a deeper understanding of our species’ relationship with the cosmos.

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  34. kjuv,

    How can the Earth sustain 9 billion?

    Easy, by inhabiting the 75% of the planet current not inhabited (under the oceans). Alternatively the 100% of outer space not inhabited.

    What is important is that there is an urgent need for mankind to develop a deeper understanding of our species’ relationship with the cosmos.

    Yep, that will happen as soon as (for example) the Jews and Arabs sort out their squable. In other words NEVER.

    The human species is not hard wired for cooperation, only conflict. We are to arrogant to EVER understand our cosmos. We cant even understand or resolve our regional conflicts.

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  35. >>The human species is not hard wired for cooperation, only conflict. We are to arrogant to EVER understand our cosmos. We cant even understand or resolve our regional conflicts.

    It’s certainly hard to be optimistic. It is even hard to argue convincingly that things are getting better over time. Whilist it is true that cannibalism and slavery are usually on the ‘inappropriate’ list, it may now be that we are more inclined to look on other people, creatures and the environment as a means to an end (Happiness through unbridled consumption, perhaps?) – rather than an end in themselves. Even if our ‘humanity’ (eg goodwill to all men etc, etc) is becoming more pervasive, it is certainly moving at a very slow rate which means that we would have wiped out most of our fellow life-forms , if not ourselves, before any major attitude change becomes apparent.

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  36. YOu can fit the whole world’s population on to Stewart Island at a square metre each. The world is not short of space to live on. Actually shoulder to shoulder we fit on Lake Taupo.
    As for demographics we already have evidence that the developing nations and their cultures follow the western pattern. Just look at how rapidly the family size has fallen in Pakistan for example. And nine billion is the top of range if you look at the comparison between projection and reality over the last four series.
    There is a strong bias for poor nations to overestimate their populations and population growth in order to claim more aid and programmes.
    Once there were two of us. Now there are 6000 million of us and we are the wealthiest, longest lived and healthiest generations the world has ever seen.
    What is the evidence for some catastophe looming before say 9 billion given that our technological development is expanind much faster than our population? Our energy use per productive unit is falling steadily and I happen to believe that our desired for consumption at high levels will fall and is already falling because to some extent our recent past was a response to the depreesion and a world war and the sudden availability of stuff. I and my many friends have much reduced consumption levels and it is by choice. My wife and I have never owned more than one car and have no wish to do so. We are now planning to buy two bicycles. I haven’t bought a new suit in yonks.
    Once you have been there then the thrill soon goes.

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  37. I like Owen’s optimism, and good on you for keeping your wants simple.

    However, there is still a lot of work to do for most in the so-called developed world to arrive at a similar level of satisfaction with less stuff and at the same time to develop a deeper understanding of our relationship with the rest of the world’s creatures.

    That is exactly what the Green Party is on about – working on ourselves and that relationship. Yes, there are tiny straws in the wind, but we can’t just sit back and hope they eventually make a haystack without putting some effort into it.

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  38. Trevor 29
    You are quite right.
    And Taupo is 616 km which at 50cm x 50cm shoulder to shoulder gives about the same total. (say 2 billion)
    I wonder if it was an old calculation done when there were only a couple of billion which has been passed down and not updated.
    We ancients are prone to this – it’s a form of Blenheimer’s disease.
    Thanks for forcing me to update my databanks – says HAL the ageing computer.

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  39. >>I like Owen’s optimism, and good on you for keeping your wants simple.

    Yes, but will the other 8,999,999.998 be content to aspire to a similar standard of living?

    Whether or not the human population can vitrtually be housed on a comparative pin head (to match our angelic nature? … Not!) is academic. The reality is that our species is encrouching on more an more of this planet toi the detriment of other species (and even other human communities) with no signs of abating.
    Despite all the trumpet blowing heralding the forthcoming utopia through our technological advances the reality is that we have rarely had it so bad. There is a high level of species extinction and habitat loss as well as more starving humans (yes, less as a percentage but more in absolute numbers) than in any other time in human history. If human life is so sacrosanct, surely it is absolute numbers that we should be examining in our attempts to judge the the claims of ‘progress’?
    The danger in not accepting that we are indeed a plague on this planet is that we will continue to over-exploit and destroy its bounty. We will either stubbornly refuse to accept any responsibility for our actions or blithely believe that technology will cater for our every want while simultaneously saving us from any catastrophic repercussions of our actions.
    I’m afraid the glass is nearly empty.

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  40. oops some typos there…. for example, I was meaning ‘encroaching’ :) (I’m not sure how to ‘encrouch’!)

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