Sunday, April 3, 2016

Debunking the Debunking

We've been over this before, but it seems to bear repeating. Someone tried to bring it up to me as a debate point, so here I go again.

There's this whole group dedicated to "debunking the myth of overpopulation." Actually, they've distilled it down to three easy steps. That's all it takes to prove that we are not overpopulating the planet. I can beat them. I can debunk their debunking by their third paragraph. Observe:

"... let’s define overpopulation. Overpopulation describes a situation where the number of people exhausts the resources in a closed environment such that it can no longer support that population.
Let’s imagine that our PRI offices were to suddenly become a closed environment, with nothing allowed in our out. Obviously, I and my colleagues would exhaust the available resources very quickly: The water cooler would be drained dry, the refrigerator would be emptied out, and the oxygen would be all used up.  
Obviously, my office has too many people for its natural resources, but I haven’t started trying to eliminate my co-workers to ensure my own survival.  I haven’t launched a sterilization campaign against my younger colleagues or encouraged my older colleagues to jump out of the windows.  Why?
Well, of course, I am constrained by Catholic moral teaching.  But aside from that, I know that my office is not a closed environment. Neither are most instances cited by overpopulation zealots, such as crowded cities or poor countries.  None of these are closed environments."
Well, there's the problem right there. What's the problem? They make no sense. At this point I start to feel it's unfair to even pick apart their points, because really they just aren't good points to being with. They are defining overpopulation (supposedly), but they aren't defining a "closed environment." Sure, they can leave their office. Sure, people can leave the cities. Sure, people can leave poor countries. But at the end of it all, we are still just on one planet, which would seem to indicate a "closed environment." Unless they have a spaceship and another M-class planet that they haven't mentioned.

Until they define "closed environment," I can't be swayed but this.

We haven't even gotten into their three reasons and they have already lost anyone with any sense. I like to hope, anyway. But let's entertain them a bit longer and look at their three reasons that they think overpopulation is a myth:

1) “Food: there isn’t enough!” Since the time of Thomas Malthus, who lived in the early 1800s, doomsayers have gloomily predicted that mankind would outbreed its food supply, resulting in catastrophic famines.  Yet the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and there are only 7 billion of us. That is, with 7 billion human minds at work, we produce enough food for 10 billion human bodies. Imagine how much food we can produce with 10 billion minds!

This one kind of makes me squint - you know that look you can't help but get on your face when you are talking to someone and you start to suspect they aren't all there ... like this:

They seem to be missing out on a few points here. How much waste is created by that food? How much of that food is actually healthy and sustainably produced? How much harm are we inflicting on the environment producing that "food"? For that matter, define food. Oh, they go on, but they really don't get much better. So I keep this expression on my face. Oh - and I like Malthus. He knew stuff.

2) “We are running out of water!” The earth is awash in water.  Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface to an average depth of 6,000 feet.  That’s why the earth looks blue from space.  You cannot use up or destroy water; you can only change its state (from liquid to solid or gas) or contaminate it so that it is undrinkable.

Wow. See the picture above. Or, let's just look at actual facts rather than Fox News talking points:
  1. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.
  2. Clean Water Crisis - Environment - National Geographic
Um .. I'm gonna have to go with Nat Geo on this one. Oceans? Yeah, sure. Here's a glass of ocean water. Drink it. Go ahead. I'll wait. Finish it! And yes, we are actually contaminating it at an alarming rate as well. Because, you know, feeding 10 billion people creates a lot of waste that goes into where? Water supply. Oh, and while our glaciers are melting, to where are they melting? INto the oceans. So the fresh water locked up there becomes ... say it with me ... ocean water. Drink it.

I almost can't go on. But I must, to #3.

3) “But we’re growing exponentially!”  Um,...No. We’re not. We are growing, but definitely not at an exponential rate. In fact, our rates of growth are declining. Between 1950 and 2000, the world population grew at a rate of 1.76%. Between 2000 and 2050, it is expected to grow by 0.77 percent. So yes, because 0.77 is greater than zero, it is a positive growth rate, and the world population will continue to grow.

Give me a minute. My brain went all squishy and tried to ooze out my ear for a short time there. Um ... yes, yes we are. If our rates of growth are declining, how is population still increasing? Is it increasing more slowly? In some areas, perhaps. But they contradict themselves all in one paragraph. So I don't even feel the need to argue it. I'm hoping sense prevails with most people reading this. And let's just put this right here: 1.76% of 5 billion versus .77% of 7 billion. See what I'm saying? Exponential - they keep using that word. I don't think it means what they think it means.

They go on to spout a few fun facts which really just leave me despondent. Here's the link to the page if you really want to check them out. You've been warned.
I've glossed over some of the points. I had to. Really, if there are people that are falling for this, there's really no hope for them anyway.

Let's all enjoy a moment of silence.

Thanks to Futurama for an endless supply of Fry faces from which to choose.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tread Lightly

Sometimes the smallest things become really big analogies. Yes, I will definitely explain that vague splutter. I arrived home the other day to find my husband sitting outside with our neighbor, having a nice chat over a beverage. My husband sat in a lawn chair and the neighbor enjoyed our porch swing, which is not on a porch but rather in the grass under our shady magnolia tree. Apparently they had been there for about half an hour. Our neighbor is … er … well, he’s a super cool guy and I like him a lot, so I will say he is ... energetic. Maybe twitchy. Excitable? Passionate. Let’s stick with energetic. He kept the swing in motion which is what you do on a porch swing. It’s what I do on the porch swing. It has “swing” right in the name. I looked at the ground beneath him. He had on some pretty serious work boots, and in the short time he sat there, he had chewed away the grass beneath him with the heavy tread on his boots and total restlessness. It has been a very wet summer here and our grass is lush and thick and more tough weeds than actual grass, but he had cleared it to the dirt in no time at all. Dude left, and I pointed it out to my husband, who for some reason had not noticed. Gashes in the Earth. Gouges.

This is of course not a big deal. Sure, it’ll take a few weeks for those spots to cover again, but no harm, no foul. Our yard is not neat, it’s just a fairly respectable yard. But this opened up a pretty big realization on my part. This tiny little nothing-incident made me think of how little most people think of their actions upon this Earth. So many of us tread so heavily and don’t ever even notice. In this case it was literal tread.

How many of these have you stepped on today?
While I go about the business of trying to bring awareness, so many others go about their life on this planet without a thought as to the weight of their tread. This isn’t even as far as carbon footprint, which figures in there, of course, but just the footstep upon this place we call home. Sometimes I get paralyzed in my yard because I realize how many creatures are under my feet at any given time! I admit I am a little uber-aware. (If “uber” can have the value of “a little.”) But I have to be the balance for those who are completely and totally unaware, apparently. I’m surrounded.

It comes down to this: we have a lot of problems going on today. We aren’t going to fix them, they aren’t going to go away, nothing is going to get better until we realize the effect we are having on the planet. We are disconnected, we don’t think, we don’t realize. We gouge and gash and scar and simply walk away, don’t look back. We consume, waste, dispose of, procreate, and we go about it with too little awareness of the consequences. We need to reconnect and we need to do it now. After all, how can we fix the big things if we can’t even notice the little things? I found this great quote but not the author, so I cannot give credit, but it’s a really good one: “The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.”

The Truth of Selfishness

All our lives, we are told that if we don't want to have children, we are selfish. Don't believe me? That's because you probably have children and have never had to hear it. And I don't mean the good best-me-I-can-be selfish which actually exists but of which most people are ignorant, but the me-me-me-I-me selfish because the world revolves around me selfish. "You aren't having kids? That's awfully selfish of you." "You don't want a baby? You must be very selfish." I won't get into the how and why of that, because I pretty much don't understand it, but I will say I used to agree and be OK with it. I figured since I didn't want to do the things that are involved with having and raising a kid, I must be selfish. Selfish with my time, my relationships, my possessions. OK, so I'm selfish. And I'm fine with that.

Except now I'm not. I've come to my senses. I got tired of being the bad guy, when the truth is actually the complete opposite. The truth of the matter is that there is nothing more selfish than having a kid.

From the very beginning: "I'm having a baby!" "I'm expecting!" "We're pregnant!" (Of course, that last one is always annoying. If anything, the two of you together failed at birth control. We? Your partner ejaculated and nothing caught it.) Look at all of these statements. They are all me-me-me.

Then the next eight months or so are all about you. How you are feeling, how nauseated you are, how your boobs look, what you can and can't do, what you want to eat, what you can't eat. How you are dying for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine but you can't because you are pregnant. How important it is that the world makes concessions for your condition. How you can't go into a place that serves a certain kind of food because it will make you ill. How you can't be expected to act normally and do certain things because you have hormonal fluctuations and you forget things because you are pregnant. It's not your fault. And no one else has ever been through anything like this before. Just you. It's all about you. Is that not selfish? That no one else's workday or home life is important because you are doing the very important job of breeding? Yeah, see, my life and my job are still going on over here and you are now negatively affecting it because you are the selfish one, not me.



chiefly concerned with one's own interest, advantage, etc, 
especially to the total exclusion of the interests of others
It doesn't end there. Oh no, it's just the beginning. Birth. Endless stories about what it what like and what the child does minute to minute. Come see my new baby and I will tell you all about me and what I went through and what my my my life is like now that I don't get enough sleep and it's so hard for me and you have no idea because you haven't been through what I have been through because you're too selfish to do what I did and I don't want to hear anything about you because it's all about me and what I'm going through because I'm more important than you because I brought another life into the world, so selflessly.

Somehow, it's all twisted into some weird illogical thing of not being selfish because it's all about this other life brought into the world. "See, it's not all about me, it's about my kid. So that's not selfish. I'm thinking only of my child. I'm very noble, after all. Not selfish at all. How can it be selfish when everything I do is for the good of my child?" Well, let's see. Let's go back to the definition posted above. Your kid is your own interest and you are chiefly concerned with your kid to the total exclusion of the interests of others. You can't attend something because of your kid. You can't get to work because of your kid. You can't pull your weight on a project to which you committed because something came up with ... your kid. That's all well and fine. You are raising a human. It takes work, and so-called sacrifice (although don't even try to tell us you didn't know what you were getting into - we knew enough to not get into it). But don't dare say I'm selfish and you are selfless for what you are doing. I'm still over here pulling my weight, and now yours. Because your life with your kid is more important. How does that make me the selfish one? I have to work around you and your pregnancy/kid things that come up because ... I'm selfish? I don't think that's how that works.

Let's look at that definition again with a different lens. "Chiefly concerned with one's own interest especially to the total exclusion of the interests of others." Why does one have a baby? When you ask, the answer is "because I wanted one." Or five. So, that was to your own interest to the total exclusion of the rest of the world, which is overpopulated. Too many humans for the resources here on this finite world. Humans are not endangered. If you weren't being selfish, might you have adopted a human that was already here, rather than further burdening the system? Rather than creating more of a carbon footprint? No, having a child is the very definition of "selfish."

Are all who procreate like this? Of course not. Not at all. Those that aren't like that have never called me selfish. So this was never aimed at them. There are wonderful parents who are really good at it and are raising wonderful kids and everything is grand. Those people are awesome. Those people never make it everyone else's problem. They are not selfish and would never accuse me of being selfish. I don't know how they do it, and they are super-aces in my book, because I could never do what they do.

Because, you know, apparently I'm selfish. Begin again.