As individuals we make New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve never heard of it for groups and certainly not for a species. Thus I’d like to propose a few resolutions for our species this year.
Most of us accept that we are one of the species living on the Earth called Homo sapiens. Most of us also know that this means that we are a part of the life sustaining ecosystems that allow us, and all life forms, to exist. But few of us pay any attention to the fact that we are swarming the Earth with an unsustainable overpopulation that demands a colossal amount of food. (It took us 200,000 years to put 1 billion people on the Earth, and just 100 years, since 1900, to reach 7 billion.)
To feed ourselves we are constantly killing animals. It’s hard to find statistics on the subject, but I did manage to find that just in the United States in 2008, while trying to feed ourselves we killed over 36,000 cattle, 116,000 pigs, 9 million chickens, 69,000 layer hens, 1 million broiler chickens, and 271,000 turkeys. I also found that in 2009, we killed 8.3 billion land animals and 51 billion sea animals used for our consumption.
In our enslavement of these animals for food (which we call “domestication”) we not only make their lives miserable; we also kill them in disgusting ways. In addition each year, we kill around 100 million animals in experiments, 40 million for their fur, 200 million in hunting, and 400 million on our roads.
Also, we are destroying the delicate ecosystems of the Earth by killing off the foliage that provides the oxygen we breathe in while using the carbon dioxide we breathe out. (This means that 15 percent of the rise in greenhouse gases is coming from deforestation.) Plants also make up a huge part of the Earth’s ecosystems, and in our overpopulation, we eat vast numbers of vegetables as we clear off the trees and shrubs to grow them. To increase their output (as we do with animals when we give them unhealthy hormones and antibiotics), we put dangerous fertilizers into the ground that pollute the land, the rivers and the oceans. (The oceans possess massive dead zones from this runoff.)
Our shocking population growth has unfortunately paralleled the growth of the industrial revolution. Thus we have evolved massive energy demands that have been filled by an addiction to cheap but unsustainable oil, coal and gas. These sources will eventually run out, but in the meantime they are polluting our environment to levels of insanity. Coal for power plants and oil for vehicles are toxic in both their land and air pollution.
They are not only threatening our health, but they are also the major cause for a rise in the greenhouse gasses. It will soon elevate the temperature of the Earth by two degrees, which will swallow up a part the Earth’s islands The only logical solution to this mess is to harvest the sustainable energy from the Sun, the wind, the ocean currents, and the heat from inside the Earth.
None of this is outside of our reach. It’s all quite possible right now. However it’s not being done because of the inconvenience of change, and greed. It’s being blocked by the mega-companies supplying coal, oil, gas, and nuclear energy, as well as the power and automobile companies that use them. Thus these old, worn out energy forms continue to produce dangerous pollutants that are unnecessary and lethal.
Not only are we not moving away from these things, we are presently advancing our pollutants even further. Fracking is where we drill down 10,000 feet and pump in 6 million gallons of water mixed with chemicals at extreme pressure. It pops the shale open so more oil or gas can be released. The wastewater separated from the oil or gas is toxic and is now polluting land and water sources wherever the fracking is done, or wherever the water from it is stored.
There are now 81,000 wells in operation in 17 states to date. Two billion gallons of chemicals have been dumped into them. Clearly we must change our ways. We must do so if our descendants are to have a future. Many believe we are bringing about another mass extinction that will occur within the next 200 to 2,000 years. Time is running out.
Thus I would suggest that our species resolve:• To reduce our overpopulation from 7 billion to 750 million (which some believe is the sustainable number);
• To stop abusing and destroying the animals and plants who share their evolution on this Earth with us;
• To stop polluting the land, waters, air and oceans with toxic, dangerous energy sources;
• To stop the nonsense of fracking, and for goodness sake, not let it into South Carolina;
• And overall, to come out of this prideful stance before the Earth that says, “We are the lords over it, rather than a natural part of it.”
Now that would be a real New Year’s resolution, wouldn’t it? I intend to work toward it this year. How about you?
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.