Category Archives: Environment

Our Fragile Earth – Think about it

Our Fragile Earth – Think about it

I have a concern about our short-term thinking. The stock market moves up or down based on the news and/or psychology of the day. Publicly traded companies focus on quarterly results. Politicians focus on elections every two years. As a Homo Sapiens we have only been around for about 200,000 years (or about 6,500 years if you are a Creationist).

Mother Earth has been around for about 4.5 billion years and some form of life has existed for about 3.5 billion years. The Dinosaurs showed up about 250 million years ago and ruled for almost 200 million years. The Egyptians ruled for over 2,700 years and the Roman Empire took over for the next 500.

Our country has existed for less than 250 years and has only been a world leader for about 75 years. In the last 60 years the world population has doubled!

The land that we occupy is only about 1/3 of the surface of the Earth. The earth’s crust (that we depend on for life) is only about 18 miles thick below land. The remainder is mostly ocean that has an average depth of about 2 ½ miles. The crust below it only aveages about 5 miles. Think about these measurements in terms of the size of the earth which has a diameter of 4,000 miles.

What about the atmosphere that we require to breath? Healthy people can survive to 10,000 feet. Above that, most people need oxygen. From 12,00 feet to 50,000 feet oxygen and a pressure suit or a pressurized container is required. Above 50,000 feet a fully sealed suit or a space suit is needed.

To summarize these facts: We live on an extremely thin outer crust of the planet and rely of an extremely thin band of air to stay alive. As a species we have been around for less than .006% of the time since life emerged. Home Sapiens took the first 199,940 years to provide a population of 3.6 biiion and only 60 years to add another 3.6 billion. Do you see a problem here?

Guests in the Americas

Guests in the Americas

Let’s face it, we are all newcomers to our country and to all of the American Continents. Our view of history is typically limited to the European “discovery” and “flag planting”. How would we feel if the Chinese came over and planted their flag on our shores and claimed our land because they had done so? The following is from Craig Childs in an article for National Geographic:

  • “The first arrivals keep getting older and older because we’re finding more evidence as time goes on. Right now we can solidly say that people were across the Americas by 15,000 years ago. But that means people were probably already well in place by then; and there’s enough evidence to suggest humans were widespread 20,000 years ago. There’s some evidence of people as far back as 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, but the evidence gets thinner and thinner the further back you go. It appears there’s not a single arrival date. No doubt there was a first person walking in, but when that happened is well before 20,000 years ago.
  • The solid dates of 15,000 are based on sites where you can find fire pits, burned bones and work stones that have been turned into scrapers and hammers and spear points. When you go back further, you’re finding mammoths that have been shattered open in a way that’s characteristic of humans. Then you start getting into these questions of what really counts as a sign of human presence, and what is just a trampled mammoth bone that happens to look like it was struck by a human with a rock.”

There has been quite a bit of discussion concerning the origins of the original Americans. The long-accepted theory was that they came from Asia over the land bridge during the ice age. More recently there is evidence that people also migrated from Europe far earlier than the Vikings. Craig continues……

  • “What I took away was that people came from everywhere. We think of the arrival of the first people as one group braving their way across a land bridge, when in fact it was many groups, many different languages, and technologies arriving at different times from different directions. This makes sense because that’s how we do things as humans. It’s not just one group. It is this complex story of many people, with many different stories.”

The original Americans that the Europeans encountered were likely the decedents of ancestors that came from came from……… you guessed it, Europe. In the very early days of the inhabited Americas all were welcome. In the very early days of the USA all were welcome. What happened to Miss Liberty’s cry? “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Facts that should Matter

Facts that should Matter

I am not naïve enough to suggest that “facts” carry the day with regard to decision making or election outcomes. My experience suggests that emotions and belief systems are more powerful factors. Regardless I think that there are numerous, problematic facts about our country that should matter to patriots.

Legal Issues:

Facts: The USA has 4.2 % of the world’s population but incarcerates 19.2% of all the worlds inmates.

Facts: Our population is less than 65% of the EU, but we incarcerate almost five times as many inmates.

Facts: The direct annual “reported” direct cost of operating our prisons is just under $85 Billion or $40,000 per inmate. There are numerous indirect costs that occur as a result of a high incarceration rate which can arguably double this cost to the taxpayer.

Facts: We have over 1.3 million lawyers, that’s a lawyer for every 244 for every man, woman & child and ranks 2nd among all the world’s countries in lawyers per capita.

Fact: The average time on death row, prior to execution is eight years.

Facts: The intentional homicide rate in our country is 5 per 100,000. The majority of these murders are committed by either friends or family of the victim.

Fact: Our homicide rate is three times that of the average for the EU countries.

Facts: The USA has 298 police officers per capita while the average for the EU is 314. It is interesting to note that the five Scandinavian countries average only 180.

Fact: There have been 237 deaths from Mass Shootings (incidents with over 4 deaths) in the last five years.

Comments: Given the facts what are our elected representatives doing to lower the homicide rate and the unfair cost in both lives and money to our residents?

Sustainability Issues:

Fact: Our planet has a limited amount of resources to provide sustainability for our residents. Such things as food, water, materials to support manufacturing and the list goes on.

Fact: Experts that study this issue estimate that we have the ability sustain a range of 3.5 to 5 billion people at a reasonable standard of living.

Fact: Our current populations stand at just under 7.6 billion.

Fact: It took tens of thousands of years to reach a population of 3.8 billion and only 50 years to add another 3.8 billion.

Fact: If the current trend continues, we will reach a population of 10 billion by 2050.

Fact: Some good news is that the experts predict that growth will decline and top out at about 11 billion by the end of this century.

The not good news is that there will be far fewer young people to support retirement programs for the aging and we will have too many people for our resources to support. The prognosis is a significant decrease in the standard of living and likely more violence as groups vie to control the resources that are available.