How many people can our planet sustain indefinitely? On a very basic level, it depends on two factors:
- How do we live, work and play?
A few years ago, the Global Footprint Network reported that if everyone lived like the average American, that our planet had enough finite resources to support just one billion people indefinitely.
We're now approaching
eight billion and still adding well over a million per week - yet we hear very little from the media or government leaders about the singular importance of controlling our population in a world of finite resources.
Even though the global annual growth rate has been gradually declining for the past thirty years, in the last twelve months, we added a net 226,000 people per day which worked out to a one-year population gain in excess of eighty million people - more than the entire population of Germany.
Solving overpopulation is very simple to understand, but extremely difficult to do. As for the simple part, all we have to do is lower the annual number of births to a level that is significantly lower than the annual number of deaths.
I did the simple math. Even if we lowered the number of daily births from 360,000 to just 100,000, it would still take us about 160 years to reach a theoretically sustainable level of around four billion.
Why four billion? That is the population level that I have concluded might be sustainable - provided we eat the "right" food
AND totally reinvent the way we live, work and play.
Since lowering the birthrate in 195 countries would be an extremely difficult, complex and perhaps impossible task, let's begin with something easy - our food choices:
What are we eating?
While bringing global population down to a sustainable level will probably take hundreds, if not thousands, of years, I like to think that a massive global information campaign, coupled with widespread legislation that passes the huge environmental costs (of producing animal based foods) on to the consumers - that we could completely eliminate animal-based food within a decade.
How many folks would pay $50 for a Big Mac? But taxing it isn't enough; eventually we must outlaw all animal-based foods completely - once we really get serious about saving humanity. Like Greta Thunberg says, we need to act as if our house is on fire.
Once enough people realize that shifting totally to plant-based eating is our single most powerful, short-term weapon for fighting climate change - we will begin to see a shift away from all of those grossly unsustainable foods.
Also, the realization of the true "win-win" for humans everywhere will enable us to pick up speed as we move forward.
As for the "win-win," take a look at these two factoids about food:
- Climate Change. On a per calorie basis, animal-based foods, on average, require well over ten times as much land, water and energy as do foods that are plant-based. Eating plant-based provides everyone with an enormously powerful weapon against climate change - while eliminating the horrific suffering of billions of farm animals and sea creatures each year - in case you give a damn about such a thing.
- Human Health. If you eliminate animal-based foods because of climate change, make sure that your new plant-based choices consist primarily of whole plants (vs. highly processed). Why? Because there is a mountain of scientific and clinical evidence (since 1980) showing that a whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) can prevent or reverse most chronic disease, slash the steadily rising obesity rate while lowering the cost of healthcare by more than 70% in developed countries.
Why is this not big news? With our very future as a species at stake, we should be seeing major headlines every single day about the above two points, but the world's media is failing us miserably on this crucial topic. Instead, they keep casting doubt on the cold hard facts about our food choices.
The sad reality of today. With not nearly enough information from the media, coupled with a money-driven food and healthcare industry - our grossly unsustainable consumption of animal-based foods continues to soar. This represents a
giant missed opportunity for fighting climate change AND for helping sick and obese people everywhere.
Hence, as a result of our collective ignorance on this crucial topic - the typical western diet of some form of meat, dairy, eggs, fish and/or highly processed foods at every meal, is more popular than ever around the world.
Moving on to the other key factor in determining our how many of us will be allowed to survive and thrive on this planet:
How do we live, work and play?
There's a lot of conversation today about the need to repair the infrastructure here in the USA: bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, subways, dams, etc. But I say
NOT SO FAST! Why spend trillions on outdated infrastructure that may not even be needed in a totally re-invented green civilization?
To me, it is crystal clear that we must re-invent every aspect of the way we live and I am confident that the end product will be starkly different from what it is today. I have been writing and speaking about such a vision for over a year. Here are just three examples of positive change as a result of a totally re-invented lifestyle in the USA:
- Elimination of over 80% of automobile traffic
- Over 80% reduction in domestic air travel
- Corresponding massive reduction in parking lots, dams, highways, shopping centers and hospitals.
The Bottom Line. How do we start the "conversation" about a totally-new, "thinking-outside-the-box" form of civilzation, governance and economy? I call the process imagineering and that is what I've been doing since 9-21-18. Here are five of my SOS Memos on this topic. You can find all of them on on my website. Here are six of them:
As I've stated before, I am not so naive to believe that my vision will come to pass, I am just trying to help start the conversation about creating a totally new way of human living - a civilization that will end world hunger, maximize our chances of surviving climate change and provide decent living conditions and enjoyable lifestyles for all.
I will end this SOS Memo today with a two-minute message from young Greta Thunberg about how she influenced her parents to stop eating meat. Some people think that she is a puppet but she definitely is not.
She is the REAL DEAL as she advocates dramatic changes to the harmful, wasteful and unsustainable way we are living.
In this video, she explains how eating meat is stealing her generation's future.
Two minutes worth watching and sharing
In future SOS Memos, I will continue expanding on the idea of a totally reinvented greening of the way we live , eat, work and play on this planet - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next twenty years.
As always, I will continue to focus on this crucial topic - in my research, my writing and my speaking.