Eyes Wide Open – Second Installment – Must we limit populations?

Hopefully you watched the full movie from the first blog in this series: Planet of the Humans.

I know it was disappointing… and probably confirmed some suspicions you had about what was really going on.  But, in any event, the blinding flash of the obvious is clear.  We are headed for a disaster if we fail to control population growth and the appetite for things.

There are some bright spots on the horizon that include tiny house designs along with sustainable agriculture.  All this coupled with a growing awareness that our protein needs can’t be met by raising animals in captivity… it simply uses too much water in the feedstocks.

So, that bucolic model of living simply and gently on the land does bring us hope.  However, there are only so many we can permit to live this way.  There seems to be plenty of land.  But is there enough water?  Plus, how can we provide health care and emergency services everywhere out there?

But even water for communities is nearing exhaustion.  There are many parts of Georgia that can not tolerate further development even today because of the availability of water.  Plus, we all know how serious the situation is in the western United States.  They are already in trouble.

History offers us stark reminders that water has always been the greatest resource challenge.  We have many reminders here in the United States of earlier civilizations that were forced to move and/or were wiped out by the lack of water.

We have come a long way in our efficiency of water use of course, but the simple fact is that we use too much water per person.  Yes, I know we now mandate low flow toilets.  Yes, I know we emphasize showers over baths.  And, yes I know that we also need to reconsider ancient agreements on water use in the western states that permit and encourage water use raising crops that could never and would never be grown there if the farmers were charged the fair replacement value for that water.

How about a national strategy and focus on water?  Why isn’t that taking precedence over carbon discussions?  Think about it carefully.

Could it be that nobody wants to sacrifice their own convenience for the future of us all?

Eyes Wide Open

This blog is one of a series about the future of the planet.  No, it is not arguing about carbon… it is one of a series of articles that should truly open your eyes to the whole problem we face as a human race.

The phrase eyes wide open implies you knew the full extent of the problems and difficulties that you were likely to have.  Most of us fail to consider issues this broadly… it is just too hard or painful.

If you care about the future of the human race here on planet earth you should watch the free movie on Amazon Prime called Planet of the Humans.  You can also see it for free on www.youtube.com : Planet of the Humans 

The movie exposes the truth behind the big money playing us all for fools with the current carbon fixation (pun intended).  I am not going to review the criminal behaviors that, rather than reducing carbon, are going to significantly increase carbon dioxide into the environment, as well as ravaging the planet of limited natural resources in the process.  Leave that alone … just watch the movie.

The key question raised by the dozens of experts is simply this: If we fail to control both the population of the planet along with its craving for things we are tilting at windmills.  Every species on the planet can outstrip its ability to thrive.  It is part of the natural cycle.  And, we are approaching this now for the human species and its ravenous appetite for water, food, shelter, and things.

Most of the movie emphasizes how the professionals we all count on to do this planning have been bought and paid for by big money.  They periodically put on performances chanting the kumbaya to sweep us up in the dream that everything will be just fine if we keep building wind turbines and solar panels.  We will all live happily ever after if we pay our carbon taxes so big corporations can rid us of this deleterious gas.  Oh how I wish that were true.

Nope, we are lambs being lead to our slaughter.  I know you don’t hear this perspective, and the reasons should be obvious.  The mainstream media takes advertising from people who want to sell you things.  They don’t want to publish articles teaching us to use less or not want those things in the first place.

Take a look at this article from The Conversation “Affluence is Killing the Planet.”

Can you imagine the mainstream media preaching against affluence?  Enough for now.  You have a lot of watching to do.  We will continue this conversation over the next few weeks.


The Right Answer?

It may be going out of style, but I have lived my whole life being graded against a standard: getting the right answer.  Yes, there have been many times when you need to ask more questions before answering a seemingly obvious question, but at the end of the day you are either right or wrong.

I was always taught to “show my work” meaning that as I wrote out the problem, I was to state assumptions, show logic, and be especially careful not to skip steps.  It was not at all unusual for points to be deducted if you did skip steps, even if you got the right answer.

We engineers do skip steps, especially when we communicate to other engineers.  We use many forms of intellectual shorthand often described as ellipsis for those with large vocabularies.  We can sit with each other and muse about very complex systems and ideas … intellectually jousting one might say.  By the way, that … I just used is defined as ellipsis.

To those sitting around us, they probably think we are speaking another language.  To some, we sound like we are showing off.  No, we are not.  We are honoring each other’s time.  We know what is “intuitively obvious to the casual observer” as we were trained to consider.

But what if there is no right answer?  What if the questions are mysteries of the universe?  What if we are on the edge of the known and are seeking something entirely new?  Are we so arrogant that we think what we don’t know now can be known by just studying it?

Think about what we now call cancer.  There is no one cancer.  Some we think we know.  Others baffle us completely.  Yet, we create the appearance that we do know through scientific sounding labels.

Take for instance multiple sclerosis or what we commonly call MS.  It is defined as a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, whose symptoms may include numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.  It is often fatal.

Is that a definition of what it is?  Not at all!  It is a description of what it seems to do to us.  If you talk to medical professionals, they will admit they still do not know what it is. They only have some ideas how to help us cope with it.

As I hear the polarization of today’s advocates for this or that, I wonder if we could step back for a moment and consider first what problems we are really trying to solve.  Anyone who has been trained in this area knows that defining the problem is the first and most critical step.

It isn’t as easy as it sounds.  You keep asking “why” or “what” we define as this or that.  Let’s take a very simple example like energy sustainability on the planet.

Today’s pundits claim the answer is solar and wind.  But, following my logic, we should first ask why we say we need the energy in the first place?  Is there a better solution by considering the definitions of housing, mobility, and productive workplaces?  Should we redefine nutrition rather than just proclaim we want to solve world hunger?

We seem all to prone to want easy answers to questions that are, quite frankly, poorly defined.

The War over ISTs

Perhaps you are a perfectionist … someone who will just not stand for anything less than the best. Is that a good or a bad thing? Well, that depends now doesn’t it. Anyone who has been around this personality type can feel a bit at odds when nothing they do is good enough. However, when it comes to other things, we kind of expect it.  As when we consider excellence in such things as in musicianship, workmanship, etc.

If I described someone as a sexist we probably will conclude that person does not respect the opposite sex. Perhaps they are condescending or insensitive to the humanity of that person. If I then call them a humanist though you would conclude they just have some kind of bias in the way they treat the opposite sex.

The suffix “ist” generally denotes a person who practices, is an expert in, or is concerned with something, or holds certain principles, doctrines, etc.: apologist; machinist; novelist; or a socialist to name a few. The intent with the label is to be descriptive.

A misogynist is someone who is strongly prejudiced against women. Misandrist is someone who hates boys and men. So, it seems clear today that the media are racist misandrists since they portray white men and boys in the least favorable light. After all, if we are going to resort to labels we should call a spade a spade.

No, I don’t think so. It is just not helpful.

We really have to look at the intent of the label in the first place. I play bassoon so I am a bassoonist. I have been paid to play in concerts at my church, so I guess that earns me the title of professional.  However, I am far from a professional bassoonist … as much as I wish I played that well.

I am a member of a Baptist church that professes the priesthood of the believer, so I guess I am technically a priest … but no, I am not. I am a follower of Christ and just one more person trying to figure out what I should and shouldn’t be doing in my life and in relationships with others.

Therefore, perhaps we shouldn’t use labels like this. They seem to fail to do anything helpful. Perhaps we should just seek to understand the person and their intent. We can all look pretty elitist, classist, exclusivist and downright arrogant applying labels.

None of those qualities seem to be loving of one another … and in fact, they all seem to be clear indications that we love ourselves a bit too much for our own good and for the well-being of others.