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The Earth is Full – So What?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2011 in Ecology | 0 comments

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The Cup is Full

The New York Times published on 06. June 2011 the op-ed by Thomas L. Friedman, The Earth is Full (1).

So what’s new, Mr. Friedman? We all knew it to be so. Or at least we should have known. It is inevitable, that humanity has it’s effects on nature. Nature was not too much disturbed, by the few people roaming the earth in the Stone Age. As long as world population was small, nature could easily balance the damage. The destruction of the forests around the Mediterranean Sea was mostly man made, the high culture of Egypt, Greece and Rome needed the wood. Still humanity could, and did, flourish. But now world population has grown to seven billion people. And it is estimated to grow by thirty percent in the next four decades to nine billion!


We all knew all about it 50 years and even longer about it. Ask  Mr. Malthus, 1766 – 1834, who already wrote about population growth and it’s limit and danger. Since the 60th of the last century environmental awareness was slowly building up. I distinctly remember that in the 80th the Acid Rain and the Greenhouse Effect were quite often mentioned in the media.


So we knew it. And still we didn’t do what had to be done. Fatalistically, we did let it come to the present situation and, as Mr. Friedman states, before a crisis nothing will happen. That might be so or not. If the decision is left to the people it is true. People will not change their way of life, because, somewhere in the future, the Greenhouse gases will show their effects on the climate. People will change their way of life if they are forced to do so. To overcome the Inertia of the Masses a initial energy burst is needed, in other words, a catastrophe on a global level. This inertia might be excusable for the masses. But it is a all together different matter for people with a responsibility to the public. Such as journalists as Mr. Friedman.


Mr Friedman is old enough to have known the facts thirty years ago, when he and his colleagues should already used their platform to educate the people and build up pressure on the politicians to do something. At least Mr. Friedman sees now the necessity to speak out. In the op-ed  Paul Gilding, a veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur is quoted, “As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.””


The question is, do we have so much time to transform our society and culture, so it will eventually become compatible with nature? Did the author not mention, that there is no time to be lost? On the one hand we are being warned, that something terrible might happen in the future and on the other hand the gentlemen Gliding and Friedman downplay the emergency. To wait for such a cathartic catastrophe is the reverse example of the Titanic Syndrome. The builder of the Titanic thought their ship to be invincible. Therefore saving boats was really not necessary. We know the results. The reverse syndrome tells us, we might sink, but until then, we don’t have to build saving boats. Now is the time to build the saving boats.


Mr. Friedman, and probably Mr. Gilding too, should easily be able to invest one thousand US-Dollars in a Loan Guaranty Fund in their respective home town. The New York Times is a internationally respected news paper and Mr. Friedman has the means to advertise practical ideas. Also a contradiction has to be sorted out by Mr. Friedman. In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree he mentioned, that “The historical debate is over. The answer is free-market capitalism.” With the op-ed the Earth is Full Mr. Friedman just states the opposite. Free-market capitalism can’t survive on restricting economical growth. So what is the alternative to the free-market capitalism? Another point of criticism to the op-ed is, that it is nice to talk about the problem on a theoretical level, but change will only come about when people are offered viable alternatives, such as are introduced in Nesseq.
Enough of talking, the time has come to act!


For further reading:

1. The Earth is Full

2. Malthus

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