by Stephen Capra
There once was a conversation in society, I remember it well, it was an honest look at our population and why slowing our growth was so important. The impact was tremendous and I remain a person with no offspring. I mention this because in my youth I do not remember the level of ignorance we witness today on our planet. Some will say that education has failed, others will point to a myriad of other reasons for this, no matter, the outcome has put us on a collision course with the destruction of our environment and while depressing, some aspects are worth noting.
The killing fields- Since when has it become an acceptable norm to allow killing contests? We now have them for coyotes, wolves, bobcats, lions you name it. With more people and more concern about our resources, a small but determined group has found comfort or their niche in society by calling in wildlife and summarily executing them for cash and prizes. In addition, as we have witnessed the slaughter of so much precious wildlife in places like Africa at the hands of slobs or boastful woman who have a fan base that it defies any sense of humanity. Which is at the root of what begins to happen when we overwhelm our planet; you see everyone’s reaction is not the same.
While many of us look to conserve, eat less meat, not tolerate the killing of an endangered species for trophy, others seemingly push down the gas pedal and what even more of what they know will soon be gone. They see in themselves the right to choose what lives or dies and for wildlife, these people (think Ted Nugent) make an already difficult situation of living, impossible. Random killing for fun, random trapping for fun and pelts is destroying not only our wildlife, but it is destroying our contract with the planet. We are stealing life for ego, for treasure and for an inherent barbarism that an increasing population has allowed to grow and it is the poster child of our disconnection and ignorance of all things wild. The blood of innocent wildlife, symbolizes the tears of our planet, as ignorance destroys vital life.
Land, Water and Life- Since the early eighties we seem to have been on a gorge of the planet, tearing away at the last roadless areas, fishing our oceans to the brink, damming precious rivers in a high-speed chase to keep up with the demands for all the people that we continue to place on a planet that is overweight and tired, exhausted by our endless need to take, without giving. How can we ever think that wolves, lions, turtles, bears and other precious wildlife can be protected when we rip apart their habitat, drill it, fill it with concreate and spill not just garbage but oil, nuclear waste and other human designed byproducts into their homes? Tearing apart forests in the Amazon to a point where the public has accepted this as normal, and has lost their energy to fight.
In this new world order, developers, oil men, bankers and the like are still viewed with honor and prestige. This furthers the disconnect that people have with our natural world and rewards those that kill, with cars, homes, wives, large family, yachts, inspiring our next generation into the desire to have what those that ironically kill the most, somehow obtain the right to possess. Such sickness and societal pressure thus sets in motion a further erosion of our planet so that another generation can consume even more.
Politics and War: Another aspect of population comes down to defending capitalism and our right to consume. Perhaps no party does it better than Republicans, but in truth both parties are churning out legislation that is destructive to life as we know it. From demanding that climate change is not real! To introducing legislation to eliminate the EPA, to making clear that Sage Grouse have no rights when compared to oil rigs, our elected officials are doing their part to crush our planet. But perhaps the focus on stopping abortion or the endless bashing of Planned Parenthood is the most damming for the planet. If woman cannot have access to a doctor and get birth control, then naturally more children will be born. When congress does the same with our foreign aid (placing restrictions on birth control), as republicans have demanded during republican presidencies, then once again more children are born, most of whom will spend their lives below the poverty line. This impacts the planet and allows for the great suffering of wildlife. Then there is war, the natural outcropping of too much population as we fight over natural resources and control. Africa has literally been torn apart with civil wars, so too the Middle East. These wars over natural resources will continue and their costs for lions, grizzly bears and other precious wildlife are one of the great sadness’s of our lifetime.
Alternative Energy: While alternative energy is the key to protecting our planet and stopping the destruction of climate change, it also can be viewed by some as allowing the population status quo to continue. My Aunt once said, “No need to worry, God will take care of the planet.” In alternative energy we have the greatest opportunity to stop the “slaughter” of our planet, but only if we combine a sensible measure of birth control to allow for less consumer demand.
Creating a new design…what if we could look at the planet and begin to ask questions: If we stabilize the population and say drop it by a billion, what could we do? If you believe in the power of rewilding, you can begin to see how man can finally pay penitence to wildlife, begin as we have seen with so many social issues of our day, and begin to treat wildlife and all animals with a respect that is still lacking in so many parts of the planet and here at home. It will also allow for the respect that our forest, deserts, mangroves and other precious land forms need, then too the dams can come down and allow our waters to revitalize, all because the pressure to get every ounce and every acre is removed by the combination of less people and new technology. That could be a really exciting time!
Population is the core issue of conservation today. Most corporate conservation groups will not even mention it. Politicians will not mention it. The religious community somehow feels that having children is more important in the scriptures than protecting “God’s Creation”. Let me be clear, while I do not have children, I love children and like many of you believe they are our future. Bold Visions Conservation continues to work on a project that we hope will bring kids into our organization in a profound way. Yet, the conversation about population is one that we must have, for one way to look at it is for every beautiful child’s face we see, we must begin to understand there is an associated cost: in lions, oil spills, new development, or a loss of species.
The planet is crying out to us, we are watching a new ignorance be permitted to not only harm the place we call home, but to humiliate it at the same time. We live in a paradise called earth, a place that we own the key to, our actions or lack of actions are allowing this place of dreams and inspiration to die. People, the endless hordes of people are the culprit and controlling the amount of them allowed to share this special place is a conversation we must continue to have.
Bold Visions Conservation