Celebrating our July 4th this year by spending a quiet day at home, sans putting myself through the test of driving back from some far away alleged place to relax just in time to resume work tomorrow, I had my usual thoughts about the massive numbers of people we encounter everywhere these days – everywhere not just away.
Does it seem more crowded to you as you travel around the country? Just back from a weekend in the Big Apple, I found myself wondering how those millions in New York City manage to survive as well as they do. Of course the implosion of population into the cities of the world is already well studied.
Michael Collyer, a Reader in Geography at the UK’s University of Sussex in an November 2, 2015 article entitled “The world’s urban population is growing – so how can cities plan for migrants?” reported that “The world’s population is becoming increasingly urban. Sometime in 2007 is usually reckoned to be the turning point when city dwellers formed the majority of the global population for the first time in history. Today, the trend toward urbanization continues: as of 2014, it’s thought that 54% of the world’s population lives in cities – and it’s expected to reach 66% by 2050. Migration forms a significant, and often controversial, part of this urban population growth.”
On balance Collyer sees urban migration as a positive with cities better able to handle large numbers more efficiently at close quarters. But is there any limit to numbers? Could we better handle the rise to 12 billion on the planet by 2100 from its present level of almost 8 billion? Are humans going to be better off by being crowded more and more?
This leads me to the point of my piece, a kind of Independence Day Requiem for the loss of space and privacy and slower paced living.
To me, the unspoken or unrealized truth about America’s and the world’s immigration problem is not about racism, but about quantity as the prodigious growth of human numbers has now so affected the quality of lives. Assume water is good for you, but if you drink too much you can kill yourself. Of course lack of good water is also cited as a growing problem and the insidious effects on our health from various pollutants have so far not been clearly measured and addressed.
So if the planet adds another 3 or 4 billion people by 2100 as could happen given present growth rates predicted by many experts in the next decades, will humans be better off? I may not be here to find out, thankfully.
On Independence Day 2016 we need desperately to answer that question as our independence is definitely up for grabs. But we don’t even seem to be addressing the population question anymore.
Yes, racism and other human indignities are important and far from solved, but are the survival issues being treated—you know, water, air quality, climate change, how to deal with the growing threat of terrorism which is surely a function of the crowding and migration trends so rampant already? We are so worried about finding jobs and yet fixated on adding more people when machines are automating so many of us out of work.
Have you read the late Chalmers Johnson’s seminal book, “Nemesis: The Last Days Of The American Republic”? This distinguished scholar posited the USA is the world’s number one aggressor of the last half of the 20th Century starting with the take down of the democratically elected leader of Iran, who we replaced with the Shah.
Let’s admit that ISIS is not going away so whether we can engage all the developed nations of the world in combating what our aggressiveness really began in the last half of the 20th century is another major question.
Finally, though, let’s be wise enough to realize that the immigration crisis afflicting the world today was not primarily built on racism or the intrinsic evil natures of the few who have always found ways to attack humanity. Rather the major cause is the profusion of people, simply too many to comfortably coexist in a world whose non renewable resources are increasingly decreasing.
Unless we stop looking for the evils in others, putting blame on those who can’t help themselves and failing to recognize our own misbehaviors, we will not be able to begin the hard job of reducing quantity in the pursuit of endless dangerous growth, still the mantra of too many of us. We need to quickly come to recognize and act on that famous verity from the late cartoonist, Walt Kelly’s precious possum Pogo, who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013
By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
Sir David Attenborough: an interview with the Wellcome Trust
Al Bartlett – Democracy Cannot Survive Overpopulation
Humans Need Not Apply
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