Thursday, October 8, 2009

Over-population Versus under-organisation

Andrew D Atkin

The modern image of humanity is that of a creature existing in plague numbers, over-populating the earth and taking from it everything that it has to offer. Unlike other animals that are perceived as part of the natural environment, and who only facilitate it, we are instead interpreted as mostly parasitic consumers of it.

Though this picture can be true in areas, it is not always true and nor does it have to to be. Humans can be critical generators of the/a natural environment, functioning as an essential link in the environmental cycle no less important than plants and other life forms.

(A simple picture for this would be to imagine a man in a desert operating his own self-sustaining eco-system. He processes his own waste to support a food plantation that sustains him, and he catches, conserves and utilises water to irrigate the system. In this scenario the man would be central and critical to the existence of the eco-system.)

This is a reality that every individual who believes that the world is over-populated needs to appreciate. Humans do not have to be parasites. We can be valued as much as any other animal on the earth as a critical link in the eco-system, if we better design our life-systems this way. Intelligent human expansion can support and advance natural eco-systems: within the deserts, out into the oceans, and in time even under ground.

Likewise, it makes sense that any consideration for population-control measures should be balanced with--and measured up against--human-related environmental planning. With innovation on both the micro and macro scale, we will see that a great deal of our over-population can be better described as simply under-organisation.

Examples of modern concepts that directly address the organisational problem are: The Venus Project, The Masdar Initiative, my own Club Economies, and any small-scale self-sustainability initiative.


Addition: 20-6-11:

Reader, it's incredibly easy for people to assume we are over-populated today if they can't get a grip on how easy it is to reduce the human footprint, while still achieving very high real living standards (lots of play and little work) with modern organisation.

The most powerful tool at hand is an automated transport system. We can live in communities that use local farms supplying food of the highest quality, and without the herbicides, pesticides and frog genes etc. It's easy, cheap and efficient. We can employ systems that convert human waste to fertiliser - closing the circuit between harvest and re-fertilisation, removing unnecessary soil depletion. The farms can be an object of colourful biodiversity in themselves. And we certainly don't need to eat so much meat (this is one thing we must resign ourselves to).

Packaging can be removed because food is processed and transported immediately via micro-cars. We can use glass, stainless steel and titanium for containments that are constantly re-used like milk bottles. Glass and titanium can be easily melted down and reformed without waste, as required.

We can dramatically remove energy-dependency with intelligent design. Well insulated homes, wind-turbine driven heat pumps, decentralised domestic work for more efficiency and less waste. We can eliminate planned obsolescence so there's only the most discrete levels of waste.

I could go on, and on!

The fact is that even with 10 billion people on this humble earth, the toxic waste coming from humanity can be trivial compared to what volcanoes put out today. It's not hard - you just have to move into some larger scale planning, based on modern technologies.

So please don't get too excited about killing people off. Look at other models of living systems.
There are other solutions. Don't pretend these options do not exist.

No comments:

Post a Comment