MOTHER NATURE DOWN FOR THE COUNT: PART 1—ADDING A BILLION PEOPLE
While driving your car, what if you noticed the oil light flashing? Within seconds, what if your temperature gauge glowed bright red? Moments later, what if the wipers failed to operate in a sudden downfall?
What would you do? Quick answer: stop the car!
If you didn’t, you would blow the engine. You might suffer a severe accident by not being able to see out the windshield. You would investigate what caused the warning lights to blink. You might add oil or more antifreeze or repair the wipers before proceeding. If that didn’t work, you would call a tow truck.
In his brilliant as well as compelling book, “Wecskaop: What Every Citizen Should Know About Our Planet”, author August Anson features ninety-nine key understandings for the half-century that lies ahead. This book proves a ‘must read’ for every presidential candidate, governor, U.S. Senator and college professor as well as a prerequisite for graduation from high school and college.
Anson provides sobering metaphors about what most can’t see, but what continues accelerating as humanity adds one billion people every 12 to 15 years.
“Imagine an aircraft carrier traveling at full speed,” Anson said. “Because of its enormous momentum, such a massive vehicle travels ever onward for mile after mile—even if it attempts to stop with all engines full astern. This leaves the populations of nations like China and India still careening upward as their absolute numbers continue to climb. Even if China’s numbers stabilized or declined, the environmental impacts of its massive population seem poised to worsen as its economic engines and consumption produce more green-house gases, wastes and require increasing quantities of raw materials.”
Planet-wide, more than half the world keeps its fertility “pedal to the metal.”
Anson said, “If this is Friday, by next Monday the planet becomes home to 600,000 extra people added. (For a first hand look: www.populationmedia.org.)
Imagine a tidal wave washing over and flattening coastal villages like the Indian tsunami two years ago. At this moment, we ourselves are a tidal wave of humanity of unprecedented proportions, washing suddenly, rapidly and furiously over the face of the earth.
“First we must feed earth’s existing 6.6 billion and then, we expect ourselves somehow to feed 600,000 added every three days endlessly into the future,” Anson said. “If today is Monday, by Friday, we add another 800,000. If we expect to educate them, we must build 32,000 new classrooms every four days at a rate of 25 students per class. Are we prepared to fund, build, finish, supply and staff these school rooms every four days, year after year, decade after decade?”
What if those countries can’t build classrooms? As Harvard University President Derek Bock said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
In the March 14, 2005 issue of Time Magazine, we discovered that eight million adults die annually. In excess of 20,000 children die of starvation or related diseases 24/7. That’s happening as you read this column.
To bring this into horrifying perspective, Bangladesh, a country with less landmass than the size of Iowa, houses an incredible 145 million people. Imagine half of all the people living in the United States shoved into Iowa. Take away all their wealth and ‘things’ while you add water-borne diseases, ground water contamination, starvation, floods and monsoons. Not a pretty picture? Hang on because Bangladesh expects to double its population to nearly 300 million in three decades. “In effect, the bus we call Bangladesh is headed off a demographic cliff at 40 miles per hour,” Anson said.
What is the difference between a million people and a billion?
If your teacher decided to give you a million homework questions before you graduated, how long would it take you to complete them? Let’s say you decided to complete your assignment by completing 100 questions per night, five nights a week and 52 weeks a year to finish answering them. How long would it take?