Humans are funny. Because we are personalities that control the mind and body, we view the world through the same filter, and tend to defer to authority even if it’s incompetent — so long as it leaves us alone.
No obligation to others means we’re just fine pretending we’re solitary hunter-gatherers, even if we depend on society and will cry like infants if our grocery stores, hospitals, shopping malls, cars, running water, electricity and cars aren’t there for easy picking.
There’s about to be a bit of a ruckus now that the major nations have dropped their CO2 capping plan:
Major nations have failed to agree to set a goal halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a draft document ahead of talks tomorrow – a setback to efforts to secure a new UN climate pact.
Neogotiations involving senior officials from the 17-nation Major Economies Forum broke down overnight after China and India opposed any mention of the target, a source familiar with negotiations told Reuters.
They first want to see rich nations commit to making deep cuts in their own emissions by 2020 and they want developed nations to work out plans to provide developing nations with short-term finance to help them cope with ever more floods, heatwaves, storms and rising sea levels, the source said.
Translation: rich nations said let’s all work together now, and developing nations said “You first!”
Setting aside moral and legal issues, which seem to be a luxury of rich European and North Asian populations, we can see this is a problem: one group will emerge on top if any capping, limiting, etc. occurs.
In the developed world, this would mean asking our industry to cut itself in half, and our people to halve their lifestyles. The way of handling things in developed nations is to offer tax incentives, gear up industry to make the right products, etc., and stop what we can that way.
But as you can see from the energy use of different nations, most developed nations exist because they regulate climate and expend a lot of energy on infrastructure, including industry, hospitals, law enforcement, etc. The developing world has no such expenditure curve.
So we’re at an impasse because the developed world is unwilling to regulate its existing population and thus fall behind in competition, and the developing world is unwilling to limit its future capacity and thus remain under the developed world’s thumb. And in the meantime, we have six billion people, soon to be nine billion.
Each of those people is going to require at minimum a certain amount of water, electricity, gasoline, food and space; it’s not just the space to house them, but the space and energy required for the infrastructure. They will all want hospitals, schools, roads, stores, running water, etc.
And that brings us to the dilemma humanity is unwilling to solve:
Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, and Professor John Guillebaud, vented their frustration yesterday at the fact that overpopulation had fallen off the agenda of the many organisations dedicated to saving the planet.
The scientists said dealing with the burgeoning human population of the planet was vital if real progress was to be made on the other enormous problems facing the world.
“It is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about” Professor Guillebaud said. “Unless we reduce the human population humanely through family planning, nature will do it for us through violence, epidemics or starvation.”
We cannot say no to anyone, because each voter fears it will be he or she that will hear the “no.”
So because of our political systems — democracy, consumerism, capitalism — the unpopular idea of population reduction goes unacted, even as it becomes vital.
It’s simply an unpopular truth.