There are some things we just don't think of when it comes to action we can take to mitigate climate change. Here at the Church of the Holy Shitters we contend the main reason for ignoring these solutions is rooted in our ego. We actually postulate that our ego is the main culprit we need to understand and come to terms with to really begin to get a handle on addressing anthropogenic climate change.
One such issue I want to talk about today is controlling our numbers. When I was born in 1951 the world’s population stood at around 2.6 billion. Today it has grown to over 7 billion. So it has more than doubled in 60 years! Seven billion people shitting on average a pound of the stuff each day times 365 days a year! That’s a load of shit to deal with! Add another billion more people in about 15 years. Holy crap! Add another billion more poopers in the following 12 years. That’s some serious overpoopulation we’re looking at don’t you think?
Each new person added to the planet must consume to stay alive and that consumption uses resources. But that is not the full story.
The full story must take into account the rate of consumption of each individual based on their standard of living. Someone in Bangladesh consumes at a much lower level per day than a person living in New York. Modern living demands more resources.
There is a great excerpt from Paul Ehrlich that explains this quite well.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCESo we have too many people in this world living, as my mother used to say, high on the hog demanding too much from the Earth to maintain their standard of living. Plus you have more and more people coming out of poverty and increasing their consumption as they are introduced into the modern world and demanding that same high standard of living. So we know the problem. How do we begin to address it?
ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENTCairo, 5 -13 September 1994TOO MANY RICH PEOPLE:Weighing Relative Burdens on the Planetby Paul Ehrlich
Concern about population problems among citizens of rich countries generally focuses on rapid population growth in most poor nations. But the impact of humanity on Earth's life support systems is not just determined by the number of people alive on the planet. It also depends on how those people behave. When this is considered, an entirely different picture emerges: the main population problem is in wealthy countries. There are, in fact, too many rich people.
The amount of resources each person consumes, and the damage done by the technologies used to supply them, need to be taken as much into account as the size of the population. In theory, the three factors should be multiplied together to obtain an accurate measurement of the impact on the planet. Unhappily, governments do not keep statistics that allow the consumption and technology factors to be readily measured—so scientists substitute per capita energy consumption to give a measure of the effect each person has on the environment.
USING AND CONSUMING
In traditional societies—more or less in balance with their environments—that damage may be self-repairing. Wood used for fires or structures re-grows soaking up the carbon dioxide produced when it was burned. Water extracted from streams is replaced by rainfall. Soils in fields are regenerated with the help of crop residues and animal manures. Wastes are broken down and reconverted into nutrients by the decomposer organisms of natural ecosystems.
At the other end of the spectrum, paving over fields and forests with concrete and asphalt, mining the coal and iron necessary for steel production with all its associated land degradation, and building and operating automobiles, trains and aeroplanes that spew pollutants into the atmosphere, are all energy-intensive processes. So are drilling for and transporting oil and gas, producing plastics, manufacturing chemicals (from DDT and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers to chlorofluorocarbons and laundry detergents) and building power plants and dams. Industrialized agriculture uses enormous amounts of energy—for ploughing, planting, fertilizing and controlling weeds and insect pests and for harvesting, processing, shipping, packing, storing and selling foods. So does industrialized forestry for timber and paper production.
PAYING THE PRICE
Incidents such as Chernobyl and oil spills are among the environmental prices paid for mobilizing commercial energy—and soil erosion, desertification, acid rain, global warming, destruction of the ozone layer and the toxification of the entire planet are among the costs of using it.
In all, humanity's high-energy activities amount to a large-scale attack on the integrity of Earth's ecosystems and the critical services they provide. These include control of the mix of gases in the atmosphere (and thus of the climate); running of the hydrologic cycle which brings us dependable flows of fresh water; generation and maintenance of fertile soils; disposal of wastes; recycling of the nutrients essential to agriculture and forestry; control of the vast majority of potential crop pests; pollination of many crops; provision of food from the sea; and maintenance of a vast genetic library from which humanity has already withdrawn the very basis of civilization in the form of crops and domestic animals.
THE RELATIVE IMPACT
The average rich-nation citizen used 7.4 kilowatts (kW) of energy in 1990—a continuous flow of energy equivalent to that powering 74 100-watt light bulbs. The average citizen of a poor nation, by contrast, used only 1 kW. There were 1.2 billion people in the rich nations, so their total environmental impact, as measured by energy use, was 1.2 billion x 7.4 kW, or 8.9 terawatts (TW)—8.9 trillion watts. Some 4.1 billion people lived in poor nations in 1990, hence their total impact (at 1 kW a head) was 4.1 TW.
The relatively small population of rich people therefore accounts for roughly two-thirds of global environmental destruction, as measured by energy use. From this perspective, the most important population problem is overpopulation in the industrialized nations.
The United States poses the most serious threat of all to human life support systems. It has a gigantic population, the third largest on Earth, more than a quarter of a billion people. Americans are superconsumers, and use inefficient technologies to feed their appetites. Each, on average, uses 11 kW of energy, twice as much as the average Japanese, more than three times as much as the average Spaniard, and over 100 times as much as an average Bangladeshi. Clearly, achieving an average family size of 1.5 children in the United States (which would still be larger than the 1.3 child average in Spain) would benefit the world much more than a similar success in Bangladesh.
Mr. Paul R. Ehrlich is Bing Professor of Population Studies and Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University in the United States. His most recent books, both co-authored with his wife Anne, are "The Population Explosion" (Simon and Schuster, 1990) and "Healing the Planet" (Addison-Wesley, 1991). The feature originally appeared in Vol. 6, No.3, 1994 of "Our Planet". The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of UNEP.
This is a difficult area to address with no easy answers because it involves human life. So let’s start with an examination of human life and what it means to you and me.
Let’s state a supreme rule of existence from the outset. “My life is the most important life on the planet.” Say that sentence out loud. Do you disagree? Good. We have just established a solid reference point from which to continue our examination. Each of us thinks we are the most important living being on the planet.
The Church of the Holy Shitters realizes your life here on Earth is precious and special to you. We believe each of us believes the same thing. Collectively then we all believe our lives are precious and special.
The Church has its own "right to life" principle. Succinctly stated we believe people alive now are more precious and special than lives that have yet to be born.
The Church also believes that we also have an ego problem that needs recognition and examination. Because the religions most people practice teach they are special, chosen, and made in the image of God, they are conditioned to have an inflated image of their individual importance. This type of thinking spills over into our reproductive beliefs and practices. It is deeply ingrained in most of us that it is important we spawn our own prodigy. We are special and we need to insure that that specialness perpetuates itself by having our “own” offspring. We therefore want and desire our “own” children and anything less is often viewed as some kind of failure.
That perpetuation of self gets to the essence of our dilemma when trying to deal with overpoopulation. Most of us want our “own” and most of us want too many of our “own” children. Couples will go to extraordinary lengths to have their "own" children. The Church of the Holy Shitters believes this to be the most personal, hard to recognize and admit, ass-backward, my shit doesn’t stink thinking pattern we have inside of us. It needs to be confronted and dealt with in a soul-searching, gut-wrenching, ass-forward, my shit is just like all others’ shit, sort of way. It is at the root of our overpopulation problem.
So the first solution for effectively dealing with overpopulation is our ego. Once we get our ego in proper perspective we can begin to reorient our thinking to begin to control and ultimately reduce our numbers and rate of consumption.
Next week we will examine this closer.
The Church of the Holy Shitters will post articles on our holy S.H.I.T. day ( So Happy It's Thursday)
Last week: 4/3/14 - God and Beer?
Next week: 4/17/14 - Climate Change - Mitigating Ego - Part 2 of 2
Hoping to add some humor, provoke thought, spark debate, deepen understanding, and shed some light on the fecal side.Remember: "If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit." ( Shitbit by Poop John the First of the Church of the Holy Shitters)Church of the Holy ShittersA secular environmental religion, scientifically based, with a focus on the psychology of it all. Our ego is the culprit when it comes to dealing with climate change. We cannot save the planet. We can only save ourselves. Our current egotistical self-perception makes that prospect a dubious one at best. Meekness, humility and a realization that our shit does stink, guides us on our path to true sustainable living and climate equilibrium.
Cross posted at http://holyshitters.com/