QUALITY OF AMERICAN LIFE WEDDED TO CARRYING CAPACITY
February 24, 2011
[Disclaimer: The opinion expressed in this article are solely Frosty Wolldridge's alone and not necessary the opinion of NWV, its staff or other writers.]
One look at your evening news or daily newspaper, you will see dozens of articles about the environment: fisheries collapsing, floods in Australia, extinction of a species, polluted air over cities, cancers stemming from chemicalization of foods and much more.
Notice gasoline rising toward $4.00 a gallon in the USA. Soon enough, it will be $5.00 a gallon and more. It’s already $9.00 a gallon in Europe. It will be $10.00 a gallon in our country soon enough. Why? Supply and demand! It will change the way we live, dramatically.
With all our advancement in America toward health and welfare, we fail to connect the dots as to our quality of life and carrying capacity of North America. One makes the other possible. Without living within the carrying capacity of any landmass, quality of life degrades.
Carrying capacity definition: it is the finite amount of water, arable land, growing season, resources, animals and forests on a finite landmass that can support a specific species. Humans included!
Carrying capacity for Easter Island: 20,000 humans maximum load. Antarctica: zero human load. North America: already maxed out as to water, energy and resources.
You see it daily in the United States. You see it in our gridlocked, air polluted, expensive and crowded cities. You see it more clearly in countries like China and India, or even Mexico. They represent unsustainable and overloaded civilizations. Ultimately, as more and more resources diminish, their civilizations will degrade. Ultimately, quality of life degrades as human numbers rise.
Since American women have averaged 2.03 children since 1970, we remain a stable and sustainable population. But what changed that equation to add 100 million people since 1965? The late Teddy Kennedy’s destructive legacy for our country: Immigration Reform Act of 1965. Here’s how it’s destroying our quality of life and carrying capacity from an expert.
The late Dr. Garret Hardin talked about carrying capacity:
“A diet of grain or bread is symbolic of minimum living standards; wine and beef are symbolic of all forms of higher living standards that make greater demands on the environment. When land used for the direct production of plants for human consumption is converted to growing crops for wine or corn for cattle, fewer calories get to the human population. Since carrying capacity is defined as the maximum number of animals (humans) an area can support, using part of the area to support such cultural luxuries as wine and beef reduces the carrying capacity. This reduced carrying capacity is called the cultural carrying capacity. Cultural carrying capacity is always less than simple carrying capacity.
“Energy is the common coin in which all competing demands on the environment can be measured. Energy saved by giving up a luxury can be used to produce more bread and support more people. We could increase the simple carrying capacity of the earth by giving up any (or all) of the following luxuries, i.e., street lighting; vacations; most private cars; air conditioning; and artistic performances of all sorts--drama, dancing, music, and lectures. Since the heating of buildings is not as efficient as multiple layers of clothing, space heating would be forbidden.
“Is that all? By no means to come closer to home, look at this book [Environmental Science]. The production and distribution of such an expensive treatise consume a great deal of energy. In fact, the energy bill for the whole of higher education is very high (which is one reason tuition costs so much). By giving up all education beyond the eighth grade, we could free enough energy to sustain millions more human lives.
“We can maximize the number of human beings living at the lowest possible level of comfort, or we can try to optimize the quality of life for a much smaller population.
“At this point a skeptic might well ask does God give a prize for maximum population? From this brief analysis we can see that there are two choices. We can maximize the number of human beings living at the lowest possible level of comfort (China and India), or we can try to optimize the quality of life for a much smaller population.
“What is the carrying capacity of the earth? Is it a scientific question? Scientifically, it may be possible to support 50 billion people at a bread level. But is this what we want? What is the cultural carrying capacity?
“An even greater difficulty must be faced. So far we have been treating the capacity question as a global question, as if there were a global sovereignty to enforce a solution on all people. But there is no global sovereignty (one world), nor is there any prospect of one in the foreseeable future. We must make do with nearly 200 national sovereignties. That means, as concerns the capacity problem, we must ask how nations are to coexist in a finite global environment if different sovereignties adopt different standards of living.
18 million humans starve to death annually worldwide, year in and year out!
“Now comes an appeal from a distant land where millions are starving because their population has overshot the carrying capacity. We are asked to save lives by sending food. (Or, by immigrating them out of their countries to our country) So long as we have surpluses we may safely indulge in the pleasure of philanthropy. But the typical population in such poor countries increases by 2.1 percent a year-or more; that is, the country's population doubles every 33 years-or less. After we have run out of our surpluses, then what?
“The last question may sound ethically compelling, but let's look at the consequences of assigning a preemptive and supreme value to human lives. There are at least 2 billion people in the world who are poorer than the 40 million legally poor in America, and they are increasing by about 80 million per year. Unless this increase is brought to a halt, sharing food and energy on the basis of need would require the sacrifice of one amenity after another in rich countries. The final result of sharing would be complete poverty everywhere on the face of the earth to maintain the earth's simple carrying capacity. Is that the best humanity can do?
“To date, there has been overwhelming negative reaction to all proposals to make international philanthropy conditional upon the stopping of population growth by the poor, overpopulated recipient nations. Foreign aid is governed by two apparently inflexible assumptions.
“ The right to produce children is a universal, irrevocable right of every nation, no matter how hard it presses against the carrying capacity of its territory. When lives are in danger, the moral obligation of rich countries to save human lives is absolute and undeniable.
“Considered separately each of these two well-meaning doctrines might be defended; together they constitute a fatal recipe. If humanity gives maximum carrying capacity questions precedence over problems of cultural carrying capacity, the result will be universal poverty and environmental ruin. The moral is a simple ecological commandment Thou shalt not transgress the carrying capacity.
“Or do you see an escape from the harsh dilemma?”
I brought you this interview to begin a discussion about carrying capacity in the United States and our quality of life. We must ask ourselves: since the world adds 80 million annually, can we continue importing them into the United States without end? Since that 80 million has overwhelmed all of the third world countries, should we take in 80 million poor annually for religious, ethical or moralistic reasons?
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Since we’re importing 1.5 million annually, what is it doing to our civilization?
“Immigration by the numbers—off the chart” by Roy Beck
To read more of Dr. Garrett Hardin click here.
Listen to Frosty Wooldridge on Wednesdays as he interviews top national leaders on his radio show "Connecting the Dots" at www.themicroeffect.com at 6:00 PM Mountain Time. Adjust tuning in to your time zone.
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