20 August 2009
I’ve been reading this book, The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, and I’ve been traveling along this interesting journey with Weisman. The premise of the book is that humans have left the planet, basically by extinction. Remove the humans from the planet and what happens? Nature takes back over the planet.
Weisman talks about how humans are constantly repressing nature. He gives the example of weeds breaking up concrete sidewalks in the cities, tree roots taking over houses, and underground rivers taking over subway lines. We, as humans, are constantly cutting trees, pruning weeds or pumping away water just to keep nature back and to continue with our daily lives.
Throughout the whole book, Weisman writes about what life was like on earth without humans, and what it will be like without humans once again.
This led me to think about what the reasoning is behind our move towards global, environmental sustainability and change. Is it to take care of the earth or is it to take care of humans? Are we doing this all in self-interest, self-preservation? Or are we concerned about the animals and plants dying daily?
As the planet dies around us, humans are dying as well. We’re going to face a breaking point when the population reaches a maximum where the earth will no longer be able to sustain the amount of humans on this earth. At that point, the immense consumption of humans is going to hit a wall, and there’s going to be an immediate need for food and water.
Scientists claim that when the population reaches more than 10 billion people, the earth can sustain no more added human life, in terms of population growth. This means, based on Charles Darwin’s natural selection and the survival of the fittest, there’s going to be some catastrophe to or within the human race that will try to wipe out a segment of the population.
It’s considered scientific fact that when a population (i.e. humans) reaches carrying capacity and there are limited resources for a population, a battle begins for survival.
I think it’s easy, sometimes, to forget that we are a part of this world and depend on it rather than it owing us something and depending on us. After all, we are just advanced animals on the planet. Just because we’re the wisest of them all doesn’t mean that we can bypass the need for food and water and habitats.
It’s very interesting to wonder about how our human kind will adapt. Will we use our intellect and technology to figure out a way to trick nature into yielding more than is intended? Genetically engineered crops could be our food source in one hundred or two hundred years. Or, will we revert back to a more simplistic lifestyle that uses fewer resources and maximizes the use of those resources?
Who’s to know, really, until we get closer to the time. There are hundreds of estimates and theories about what will happen to us within the next 100 years to the next 100,000 years. It’s speculative because there are unknown factors that may play a part that we may or may not be aware of just yet. Humans could move in the direction of a complete change where they’re able to maintain life while maximizing the use of local resources. We can cut our consumption down and eat and use only what’s necessary. Or, we could keep going at this rate and see what sort of catastrophic change the human race is bound to encounter if we continue on our present course.
There’s no reason to despair, just yet. There is so much we can do to change our behavior and to contribute one of those unknown factors to the future of the human race.
The first step is education, the next action, and the final overhauling change. Step by step, we’ll see the progress of our changes.