A reader sent me this story sans an author: "If you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage, hang a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.
"As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray him and all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey makes an attempt with same result ... all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put the cold water away.
"Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one.
"The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.
"The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.
"Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.
"Why, you ask? Because in their minds...that is the way it has always been! This, my friends, is how Congress operates... and this is why nothing changes for the better, and from time to time: all of the monkeys need to be replaced at the same time if you expect change for the better."
Which brings me to the point of this column: our country, because of our "monkey" leaders and most of our citizens, is not prepared and will not prepare our civilization's survival in the 21st century. We stumble into each decade without a plan or clue as to the impact of adding the projected 138 added population within 38 years
Present U.S. population: 315 million. Projected in 38 years by 2050: 438 million. Environmental, social, quality of life and standard of living expected in 2050: degraded, dismal, depleted and unfortunate for countless millions of Americans. Sources for 438 million figure: (Sources: US Population Projections by Fogel/Martin, PEW Hispanic Center, US Census Bureau)
A reader responded to one of my environmental-population pieces by saying that if we conserved more water and energy, and utilized our land more equitably, population wouldn't be a problem. In other words, he advocates for more and more people living on less and less. Never mind the strangled cities, species extinction rates, water shortages, air pollution, energy depletion, carbon and ecological footprint facing our exploding numbers. It's amazing how people overlook the details.
Every single environmental, resource, water, quality of life and energy crisis facing America in the 21st century stems from more population than the carrying capacity of North America can handle or the planet for that matter.
In the Denver Post last Sunday, "Dropped cell phone calls, delayed text messages and choppy video streams could become more frequent occurrences because the airwaves on which that data travel are nearing capacity." Can you imagine in 2050 with 138 million more folks using cell phones?
International overpopulation consequences
Author Juliet Eilperin said, "In Peru, fishing vessels haul 7.5 million tons of small fish out of the water every year. The Peruvian seabird population that used to number in the tens of millions has dropped to two million."
Robert Engelman of www.worldwatchinstitute.org noted, "When you have China out roaming the seas looking for anything they can get to feed their population of 1.3 billion (and growing by 8 million annually, net gain on their way to 1.5 billion in 38 years), that's increasingly affecting any local resources anywhere in the world."
Africa, India, China and America create the most disastrous population growth in the 21st century. Africa will grow from nearly 1 billion today to 2.4 billion within 88 years. Do any of the animal species in Africa stand a chance against such ravenous human onslaught?