BSB 170     J. Morris Hicks     (10-12-18) 
Futile Folly of Trillion Dollar Bandaids
Taking the right steps on climate change, after last week's dire U.N. news will be the most important decision humans will ever make. And it will be stressful for all of us.

To minimize that stress, I think we need a "visual" of what a comfortable, eco-friendly life for humans could look like. Once we have that visual, we can prioritize how we spend our resources in both time and money - as we move steadily toward making that vision a reality.

Bandaids? In the meantime, we should minimize the resources (time and money) we spend trying to "fix" our crumbling cities and infrastructures, many of which will someday be underwater.

Eventually, we must come to grips with the fact that our exceedingly wasteful and grossly unsustainable lifestyles cannot be retro-fitted into a living arrangement that will be acceptable to Mother Nature. To gain her approval, it's clearly a case of going "back to the old drawing board."

Let's start with a question. How many humans can Mother Nature support indefinitely? 

According to the Global Footprint Network, if ALL humans had the ecological footprint of the average American , our planet is capable of sustaining just one billion people indefinitely. Being seven billion over budget prompts me to conclude:

"Uh, Houston, we have a problem."

This image of Mother Nature, trying to support far too many people, reminds me of a saying from my youth down South, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

Does that look like a happy woman to you?

Now, as we approach  almost eight billion people, we must take a long hard look at every aspect of our modern civilization - with an eye toward totally re-inventing the way we live.

What to do? First, let's examine how civilization became what it is today. Until the early 1800's, there were less than one billion humans on the planet and all of them were living what we would describe today as a very "green" lifestyle. 

Then, along came cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels which led to a totally reconfigured civilization built around railroads, automobiles, airplanes and a steadily increasing demand for more STUFF, most of which we do not need.

Fast forward to 2018: Now we have almost eight billion people, along with exponential growth in cars/trucks/busses produced and air passenger miles flown. According to Dr. Stephen Emmott's research:

Road Vehicles: From 1900 to 2012, some 2.6 billion were built. Since 2012, we have been on track to build another 4 billion by 2050.

Air Travel.  In 1960, we flew 62 billion passenger miles. Just fifty years later, i n 2010, we flew 4 trillion passenger miles. And each long-haul flight burns 110 tons of jet fuel.

When you think about those enormous numbers, it's easy to understand that simply building more efficient cars and planes will NOT be nearly enough to satisfy Mother Nature.  
For that, we must urgently re-think, re-design and rebuild our entire "civilization" model. 

What About those Bandaids?

Here are just a few examples in the New York City area where I reside. 

1. Subway Update Price-tag: $37 billion over ten years according to a 2018 piece in the NY Times.

2. New Hudson River Rail Tunnel. $13 billion according to a 2017 piece in the Times.

3. Fixing the JFK Airport Mess. $13 billion according to an article just this week.

And I haven't even mentioned the massively expensive "flood proofing" projects that are being discussed for New York and many other coastal population centers.

The problem is that all of those bandaids will add up to many trillions of dollars across the USA, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the bandaid projects will divert our attention and our resources away from truly "green" solutions, while never addressing the root issues of our out-of-control and grossly unsustainable way of living.  

As Dr. James Lovelock would say, if Earth's ecosystem is not improving because of our presence, then nature will eventually drive us to extinction. To survive and thrive indefinitely, we must completely re-invent the way we live on this planet. 

Remember the donkey quote?  Some situations demand that we start over and do some creative imagineering , because attempting to gradually convert old, inefficient cities into truly "green" human habitats - would be like trying to...

Make a solar-powered car out of a donkey

Now, I'm not saying we should walk away from our great cities. I'm just saying that we need to spend most of our time and dollars on lifestyle solutions that are quantum leaps toward living in harmony with nature -  instead of a never-ending series of trillion dollar bandaids.

We must urgently plan for the future now, recognizing that t he task of getting real serious about developing a "vision" and master plan for the USA (for 2100 and beyond) is long overdue. 

Vision & Master Plan. I described one "idea" for such a plan a few weeks ago. It involves a massive lifestyle re-invention project in the USA - one that could serve as a model for the rest of the world. Click here to review in detail:

An excerpt from that Creative Idea BSB link above:

The "idea" begins with setting aside a ten-mile-wide corridor of land extending from Atlanta to Los Angeles. In the center of that corridor will be a hyper-loop train system than will enable rapid, highly efficient movement of people, food and other freight across the country.

Ultimately, this system will eliminate the need for most travel by automobile and airplane--both of which are environmental disasters. And it will provide for up to 100 million residents to live comfortably in "harmony" with nature.

Bottom Line. Sooner or later, we must recognize that no matter how many trillions of dollars we spend on our old cities and infrastructures, they will always be far less "green" than a modern, efficient human habitat - designed and built in the 21st century - according to specifications that are approved by Mother Nature herself.

Once that "Master Plan" for the USA has been developed, we can then decide how to allocate funds between building for the future and maintaining a satisfactory, but less than optimal, way of life in our older cities.

What Can You Do? You can circulate this BSB along with the above "creative idea" article with prominent journalists, thought leaders and/or elected officials that you admire. 

Speaking in NYC on Oct. 17.  Do you have friends in or near New York City? If so, please tell them that I will be delivering a "big picture" presentation (with emphasis on hope) at a venue near Penn Station, beginning at 6:30 pm and including a plant-based, pot-luck dinner. Click here for details.

Until next time, just remember...

Humanity is on a collision course with Nature.
A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.
Finally,  here are a few related "Bite-Size Blogs" (BSBs) from the past few weeks: 

Rapacious Consumption of Resources - Fenner  (9-28-18)

Want to see a list of all my BSBs?  Click here.

Be well,

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks 
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC

I welcome your feedback and/or questions at:

Looking for Opportunities to Speak.  Since 2016, my research, writing and speaking has been focused on the sustainability of our ecosystem and our future as a species. With a primary emphasis on food choices, I call it the "most important topic in the history of humanity." 

After all, what could possibly be more important to humans than the survival of our species?

 (now contains 5-minute video of me speaking in Tucson) 

Speaking Activity:    In 2018 I spoke at a   VegFest  in Fort Myers, FL,  at the  in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, and at the    College of the Holy Cross  in Worcester, MA. Upcoming talks: On Oct. 17 at   Plant Powered Manhattan --NYC; and in  South Haven, Michigan , November 2-4.

To schedule a presentation at a venue near you, please contact me at

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

Want to see earlier Bite-Size Blogs?  Click here
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