Taking a Path Toward Sustainability While There is Still Time

The family of humanity appears not to have much more time, perhaps a couple of decades if we are lucky, in which to make necessary changes in our conspicuous overconsumption/hoarding lifestyles, the endless expansion of overproduction by big-business enterprises, and its unbridled overpopulation activities. Humankind may not be able to protect life as we know it or preserve the integrity of Earth, even during the years many of us are alive.

If we project the fully anticipated increase of unrestrained per-capita consumption/hoarding, rampant economic globalization and unrestricted propagation of 75 to 80 million newborns per annum for the foreseeable future, will someone please explain how the ‘trajectory’ of our civilization can be sustained much longer on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth? According to my admittedly simple estimations, if humankind keeps doing just as it is doing now, without beginning to do whatsoever is necessary to modify the business-as-usual course of our gigantic global economy, for example, then the Earth could not sustain life as we know it much longer.

It appears that all the chatter in the mass media regarding an already accepted event, a “demographic transition” in the coming four decades, during which time humankind will pursue a path to the future marked by underdeveloped countries not following the path of the overdeveloped countries but instead “leap-frogging” traditional economic growth activities and automatically squeezing through a ‘bottleneck’ to population stabilization around 2050, is nothing more than wishful and magical thinking. Where is the science to support these ideas? Although it has not been sensibly and openly discussed, extant scientific evidence appears to directly contradict demographic transition theory in such a way that I am led to believe that this theory is a product of preternatural thinking and inadequate research. Please note that the demographic transition theory could be supported by unscientific evidence that is widely known to be ideologically based, politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerable and culturally prescribed.

Unfortunately, in the face of all the elective mutism and willful denial of what the human population is doing on our watch, many too many top rank scientists have adopted a code of silence, apparently at the behest of super-rich and powerful greedmongers who rule the world in our time. Scientists have got to find adequate ways of communicating to humanity about what people somehow need to hear, see and understand: the reckless dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species are primarily the result of the colossal current scale and fully expected growth of human consumption, production and propagation activities worldwide. When taken together, these global overgrowth activities of the human species appear to be occurring synergistically, proceeding at breakneck speed, and moving fast toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort unless, of course, the world’s huge, ever expanding, artificially designed, man-made global political economy continues to rush headlong toward the monolithic ‘Wall’ called UNSUSTAINABILITY, at which point the runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

If this representation of the human-driven global predicament is somehow on the right track, then it seems that responsible and humane efforts made by a conscious human community to slow the world-engulfing overgrowth activities of the human population would be a step in the direction of sustainability. Either we will choose to take a “road less traveled by” toward sustainability while there is still time or else become one of many species to be victimized by of our soon to become, somehow patently unsustainable presence on Earth, I suppose.

Steve Salmony is a self-proclaimed global citizen, psychologist, and father of three grown children. In 2001, Steve founded the AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population to raise consciousness of the colossal threat that the unbridled, near exponential growth of absolute global human population numbers poses for all great and small living things on Earth in our time. His quixotic campaign focuses upon the best available science of human population dynamics in order to save the planet as a place fit for habitation by children everywhere. Read other articles by Steve.