Human Beings with Feet of Clay and Self-Proclaimed Masters of the Universe

Humankind could soon come face to face with an incredible and unprecedented situation. We are spectacularly successful at doing something potentially ruinous of all we claim to be protecting and preserving as we ever more rampantly increase our exploitation of natural resources and continually increase our food production and distribution capabilities. Stupidly we hold fast to a wicked idea that, if we do not do these things, a catastrophe will follow.

This upside down, deluded thinking is leading us to risk the precipitation of a colossal disaster of some unimaginable sort. The continuous plunder of limited resources and conversion of biomass into human mass, including the continual increase of food production to feed a growing population, are precisely what is causing humanity to charge down a “primrose path’ toward an unfolding confrontation with a global, human-driven ecological wreckage.

Perhaps we need to invite one another to listen more, see farther on a clear day, and communicate better. Thanks to all in the Circle of Friends and the Royal Society’s People and the Planet Working Group for being now here just as you are. We are going to make a difference. Like all of you, I do not have answers, but not having answers cannot be used as a ‘justification’ by population professionals, demographers and economists on our watch for ceasing their explorations and denying extant scientific research. Scientists cannot consciously and deliberately deny evidence of what could somehow be real.

All these unwitting experts must be called out. If foolhardy experts and their greedmongering benefactors are ultimately victorious in their elective mutism and willful denial of science, what is to keep silence from killing the world we inhabit? If ‘the ninety-nine percent’ are denying the human overpopulation of Earth, then 0.99% of the remaining 1% are in denial of the science of human population dynamics, I suppose. These circumstances are intolerable and cannot stand.

As a growing number of scientists are making all of us aware, a way needs to be discovered and chosen that effectively communicates an adequate understanding of the profoundly dangerous situation in which the human community finds itself in our time. As Paul Ehrlich reported last year, “Everybody who understands the situation is scared witless.”

That as it may be, experts need to gather their wits about them because they still have responsibilities to assume and duties to perform. After all, we live by our wits not witlessness; moral courage not fear; and by adapting to the requirements of reality rather than putting our heads in the sand. Somehow the vision, the honesty, the judgment, the pluck, the will and the means will be summoned by human beings with feet of clay to acknowledge, address and overcome the human-induced global challenges that are already dimly visible on the far horizon. Otherwise the greed of self-proclaimed masters of the universe and the witlessness of their minions, who together rule the world on our watch, will certainly bring about its ruin as a fit place for human habitation.

In all the seriousness and gravity of what could be true, never in a lifetime did I expect to see a situation like the global predicament looming ominously before humanity. Although my eyes were open during the first 50 years of life, I did not for a split second catch sight, even through a glass darkly, of the awesome big picture: the global predicament that is given its shape in the gigantic presence of seven billion, soon to become 9 billion human beings ravaging a finite planet with size, composition and frangible environs of Earth. The sight of something so awesome left me initially thunderstruck and later on incessantly compelled to speak out as I have for years.

Perhaps speaking out about what is true to you as best it can be expressed and thereby raising awareness, is at least one distinctly human way to go forward.

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.