Do we deserve the Earth?


I was away on Holiday for a week down to the NJ Shore with my family. We rode bicycles, ate some good seafood, and spent quality time enjoying the Sandy Hook seashore. We saw a pod of dolphins, many different bird species, and different types of plants and trees. The weather was variable but it was great to get away and listen to the roaring surf and enjoy Nature.

Covid19 shut down a lot of the amenities at the beach. The visitor center and concession stands were closed but the showers and bathrooms were open. For the most part, everyone was social distancing and wearing masks if they couldn’t stay 6 feet apart. The beaches weren’t packed but they were busy and it brought with it all the usual annoyances of the masses of humanity, most notable and irritable of all: garbage!

The majority of the beachgoers did take out their garbage but there were a few that didn’t. The very first day we saw plastic bottles, wrappers, bags just left at the beach. The next day my wife took a plastic bag we used to carry food in to just pick up the garbage around our immediate area. In less than 5 minutes the bag was filled to the top.

Sandy Hook collected garbage

I was furious when I saw this, and I remain furious to this day. We ended up taking the garbage home and disposing of it properly.

We don’t. We’re like a bunch of teenagers wrecking our rooms and sleeping our filth until we wake up one day and realize it’s too late. We missed the bus or the house is burning down and we can’t get out. That’s exactly what’s happening here, we’re ‘shitting where we eat’ and living in a burning house. Yet, the majority of the world’s population doesn’t care. If you’re poor you’re too busy looking for food to eat and clean water to drink. If you’re in the wealthier group, you’re hoping to afford that new iPhone or busy watching American Idol. The majority of people that are not connected to the land don’t care about the environment, they just think it will go on forever as it is.

Here’s the rub, the Earth will continue to exist until the Sun swells up and consumes it, some 5 billion years from now. Whether we humans and the abundance of life will survive until then is a big question mark. We’re already witnessing an unstable climate and the collapse of insect populations. A massive ‘man-made’ extinction is underway and it’s utterly sad. It makes me angry. I know that we humans, including me, have an effect on the planet. We do make a footprint, but does it have to be so heavy?

I’ve been listening to ‘A Desert Solitaire’ by Edward Abbey lately. I read the book many years ago and it left an indelible mark on me. It was one of the reasons why I love the desert and spent many years in New Mexico. I’m listening to the audiobook as I do my daily walks and I’m reminded by some of the more controversial views ‘Cactus Ed’ had concerning population control and immigration.

While I’m in disagreement with his stance on limiting immigration, I do agree that population control is a good idea. Slowing the growth of 7 billion people to the point that the growth rate is below 1% would be a win in my book. Several European countries are now in a negative growth rate like in Germany and Portugal. The real controversial point is how you go about controlling the growth of the population!

Historically wars, pandemics, religion, and famine have killed millions if not billions throughout human history. I’m not advocating for any of these methods but rather for a simpler one, education.

Access to education for men, women, boys, and girls is what will stop us from being ‘viral’ baby-makers. We must especially educate women and girls in developing countries so that families can properly be planned. Yes, unexpected pregnancies will still happen but hopefully, we transition to a 3 or 4 person family nucleus instead of 6, 7, or 10. Having two children keeps the population the same, and having 1 child starts to reduce it. Education and family planning are perhaps the most humane way of dealing with our footprint on this planet. The added benefit is a reduction in consumption and a reevaluation of this ‘perma-growth’ concept as we transition to a more sustainable way of living.

We need to reduce our consumption of resources. The simplest way to do that is if they’re less of us and the way to get there is through education. Granted having fewer people will make Wall Street go crazy because there won’t be more of us to buy stuff, but a transition to a sustainable way of living is critical to our survival of ALL living things. Us included.