Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and
I’m not sure about the former.
– Albert Einstein
(1879 – 1955)
Earth Day is almost here. I don’t believe in Earth Day myself. I think
it’s a little silly to devote one single day of the year to being
concerned about the environment, but I suppose one day is better than no
day at all.
Having been an environmental activist since 1968, I have seen the
movement go up and down like a roller coaster in popularity. It was big in
1972 with the Environmental Conference in Stockholm which I attended and
it became big again in 1992 with the U.N. Environmental Conference in Rio
De Janeiro that I also attended. I remember that the priority issue in
1972 was the danger of escalating human populations but by 1992, that
concern was not even on the agenda.
Well we are approaching the end of another 20 year period and it looks
like ecology is in vogue again thanks to global warming and a few
other scary things. Green is once again popular.
I can always tell when the environment is getting to be faddish again.
My indicator is the number of lectures I am booked for around this time of
year. It reached its peak in 1992, practically disappeared for awhile and
now it’s coming around again.
What worries me is that the movement is constantly being sidetracked
by the issue of the day.
It’s global warming now. When we were trying to warn people about
global warming and climate change twenty years ago, no one was
interested. Now it’s become the “in” issue and the big organizations are
tapping the public for donations to address the problem although no one
has come up with anything that makes much sense. But global warming is
good for business if you’re one of the big bureaucratic organizations
whose primary concern is really corporate self
Greenpeace is even telling people that they can slow down global
warming by (and I kid you not) “singing in the shower”. Yep, you see all
you have to do is run the water, then get wet, shut the water off, and
sing in the shower as you lather up and then open up the faucet and rinse
off. Ah, so simple to save the world.
The problem is that these big organizations are too politically
correct to address the ecologically correct solutions.
Instead they are baffling everyone with abstract concepts like carbon
trading and carbon storage or trying to sell us a new hydrid Japanese car.
Even Al Gore with his Inconvenient Truth totally ignored the most
inconvenient truth of all. I’ll get to that in a moment.
But let’s look at the number one cause of global greenhouse gas
First and foremost it is human over-population, the very same issue
that was the priority concern at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the
Environment in Stockholm.
It’s 6.5 billion people folks.
Remember in 1950, the world population was 3 billion. It’s now more
6.5 billion people produce one hell of an annual output of waste and
utilize an unbelievable amount of resources and energy.
And this number is rising minute by minute, day, by day, year by year.
And most of the people having children have no idea why they are even
having children other than that’s what you do. Most of them don’t
really love their children because if they did they would be very much
involved in trying to ensure that their children have a world to
Unless over-population is addressed, there is absolutely no way of
slowing down global greenhouse gas emissions.
But how do you do that within the context of economic systems that
require larger and larger numbers to perform the essential task of
Corporations need workers and buyers. Governments need tax-payers,
bureaucrats and soldiers. More people means more money.
I’ve said for decades that the solution to all of our problems is
simple. We just need to live in accordance with the three basic laws of
First is the Law of Diversity. The strength of an eco-system lies in
diversity of species within it. Weaken diversity and the entire system
will be weakened and will ultimately collapse.
Second is the Law of Interdependence. All of the species within an
eco-system are interdependent. We need each other.
And the third law of Ecology is the Law of Finite Resources. There is
a limit to growth because there is a limit to carrying capacity.
Human populations are exceeding ecological carrying capacity.
Exceeding ecological carrying capacity is diminishing both resources
and diversity of species.
The diminishment of diversity is causing serious problems with
Albert Einstein once wrote that “if the bee disappeared off the
surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life
left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more
animals, no more man.”
That is the Law of Interdependence.
Forget global warming folks. The disappearance of the honeybee could
end our existence as human beings on this planet far sooner than we think.
And the honey bee is in fact now disappearing. Why? We don’t know why.
It could be genetically modified crops, I could be pesticides or it could
be that our cell phones are interfering with their ability to navigate.
Whatever the cause the fact is that they are disappearing. All around
the world bees are disappearing in a crisis called Colony Collapse Disorder.
And bees pollinate our plants. Everywhere on the planet, bees are hard
at work making it possible for you to live and enjoy life.
We hold on to our place on this planet by only a toehold. If anything
happens to the grass family, we are screwed. If the earthworms
disappear, we are in big trouble. If the bees disappear, well
according to Albert Einstein who was considered somewhat smarter than most
of us, we will have only four years. Just enough time to get a college
degree to discover that everything you learned is relatively useless when
sitting on the doorstep of global ecological
We are cutting down the forest and plundering the oceans of life. We
are polluting the soil, the air and the water and we are rapidly
running out of fresh water to drink.
Only corporations like Coke and Pepsi have figured out that water is
more valuable than gold. That is why they are bottling it in plastic
bottles and selling it. This week I saw a bottle of water in my hotel room
that I could have drunk for only $4.
Unbelievable. That means that water is now being sold for more than
the equivalent amount of gasoline. I hope that I’m not the only one who
thinks this is insanity.
Now for Al Gore’s really inconvenient truth. In his film he does not
mention once that the meat and dairy industry that produces the bacon, the
steaks, the chicken wings and the milk is a larger contributor to
greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry. You see, Al may
drive a Prius but he likes his burgers.
This is why the big organizations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club
will not say a thing about the meat industry. Last year I saw
Greenpeacers sitting down for a baked fish meal onboard the Greenpeace
ship Esperanza while engaged in a campaign to oppose over-fishing.
When we pointed out that our Sea Shepherd ships serve only vegan
meals, the Greenpeace cook replied, “that’s just silly.”
We see what we want to see and we rationalize everything else.
The oceans have been plundered to the point that 90% of the fish have
been removed from their eco-systems and at this very moment there is over
65,000 miles of long lines set in the Pacific Ocean alone and there are
tens of thousands of fishing vessels scouring the seas in a rapacious
quest to scoop up everything that swims or crawls.
This is ecological insanity.
The largest marine predator on the planet right now is the cow. More
than half the fish taken from the sea is rendered into fish meal and fed
to domestic livestock. Puffins are starving in the North sea to feed sand
eels to chickens in Denmark. Sheep and pigs have replaced the shark and
the sea lion as the dominant predators in the ocean and domestic house
cats are eating more fish than all the world’s seals combined. We are
extracting some fifty to sixty fish from the sea to raise one farm raised
This is ecological insanity.
Yet the demand for shark fin is rising in China. Ignorant people still
want to wear fur coats. In America, we order fries, a cheeseburger and a
Ecological insanity folks.
Last week a reporter called to ask me if I had really said that earth
worms are more important than people. I answered that yes I had. He then
asked how I could justify such a statement.
“Simple,” I answered. “Earthworms can live on the planet without
people. We cannot live on the planet without earthworms thus from an
ecological point of view, earthworms are more important than people.”
He said that I was insane for suggesting such a ridiculous idea when
people were made in the image of God, and earthworms were not.
What we have here of course is a failure to communicate between two
radically different world views. His which is anthropocentric and sees
reality as human centred and mine which is biocentric and sees reality as
including all species equally working in interdependence. He sees us as
divine and better than all the other species and I see us as a bunch of
arrogant primates out of control.
But that’s my two cents worth for Earth Day 2007.
Consider the humble honey bee and remember that the little black and
yellow insect you see flitting busily from flower to flower is all that
stands between us and our demise as a species on this planet.
We better see to it that they don’t disappear.
May be freely published and distributed
He of course gets in some digs at Greenpeace (he was a Greenpeace founder, but left in 1977 after disagreements on tactics), but the two main points he mentions are overpopulation and meat. Overpopulation is not an issue I’m too concerned about. Most developed societies are seeing shrinking populations, or will soon. It’s also people in developed countries that do much more damage. 1 American can do as much harm as 100 Chadians, so all people are not equal, and a focus on the raw numbers isn’t helpful.
Meat is a different story. If we eat meat, or fish, we are undoubtedly taking away from the next generation. It’s simply not sustainable. I particularly like the quote about the biggest marine predator being the cow 🙂