Perhaps some of you comfort yourself with the notion that, if the first world collapses due to lack of resources, it will be rebuilt. Well, I saw Jarrod Diamond speak yesterday, and he assured us that it's not so. In response to a question about the future of the world if a collapse--which he sees an inevitable if we do not shape up, and fast--he said, "Here's probably what it will look like: an end of the first world as we know it. Who will survive? Places like New Guinea, countries that are self-sustaining. Is the USA self-sustaining? Obviously no, not even close. Will the first world be rebuilt? Impossible, because our complex systems necessitated copper, tin, and other metals which we've fully mined. They are no longer in the earth."
And here's another scary idea. Diamond believes there are 12 crisis-level problems dogging the earth now. Here are a few: climate change, population expansion (especially in developing nations, where more resources are consumed), top soil erosion, overfishing, over-logging, lack of fresh water. When asked, "Is climate change the number one problem facing the environment today?" he replied, "No, I don't believe so. All 12 problems I've outlined are equally earth threatening." Got that? Climate change is 8% of the problem.
Here's one more scary piece of information for you. Whose fault, would you guess, are all these crises? Well, they're everyone's fault--but mostly, they're ours. Why? Well, we Americans consume on average 32 times (yes, thirty-two times) as much as people in the developing world. That means that every child born in the USA is 32 times worse for the environment than every child born in Kenya. In other words, we are ruining this planet for everyone. What can you do to stop it? I don't know, though I hear quitting meat can help, since meat is a complete waste of resources--a cow, after all, uses 10 times as much food as it produces. Also, you can recycle--unless you live in New York, where recycling is nearly impossible. Do you know where people recycle well? In Europe, where, amazingly, living standards are just as high as America, but they only consume 1/2 of what we do.
Okay, I feel somewhat better now.