Jaywalking: 5 billion too many

John Walker
Opinion Editor

This week the total world population reached 7 billion human beings, supposedly. Even if the number is not entirely accurate there is no reason to believe our population levels are not dangerous. We are reaching an important point in the history of our species. We have reached carrying capacity.

Even with the advent of new technologies and social systems humanity has not been able to curb its impact on the natural word. We have not even been able to mediate the social inequalities within our own societies, let alone deal with the ecological crises facing us.

To put this into perspective, right now there are occupations in every major human city protesting the lack of healthcare, corporate supremacy and corrupt politics. These are all problems our modern society needs to address, and quickly. We cannot even get to the point where we treat our fellow human beings with the decency and respect they deserve. But say we do reach this point.

Let’s say here in the United States there is a change in the current political wind and suddenly we see the change we want. Even at this point we have not dealt with the most pressing issue of our time. How do we expect to live on a planet we are destroying?

Free healthcare does not curb a consumer-driven economy and just because we put regulations on the big banks does not change the global capitalist market. It does not change our throw-away culture and attitudes toward the natural world as an obtainable resource instead of a sustainable one.

So when the headline for 7 billion human beings appears on the web page of every major news outlet we should not celebrate. We should be watchful of the direction our society is taking. Clean water and air don’t care what political party you belong to. The sludge pond next to your neighborhood could care less whether or not you go to church. These are all man-made problems and can only be fixed by the children of the men who made them. We are all our fathers’ keepers at this point. To deny it is to deny the importance of living in a healthy and safe community.

We are now reaching the peak moment of the modern era, not the peak of human society, but the peak of society’s resources. Constant studies report of peak soil, peak oil, peak coal and peak clean, drinkable water. If this really is the situation we face then it is long past time we put away our petty squabbles and deal with the real issues.

“The most significant feature of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future to the present, and all the power (and genius) of science is prostituted to this purpose.”-William James, psychologist and philosopher.


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