March Against Monsanto We consumers really don't know what were getting anymore when we buy food from a grocery store. Genetically Modified Organisms are so pervasive in our food system that it is very difficult to avoid purchasing or eating them. Foods containing GMOs …Read more. Alternatives to Gas Gas prices have many of us looking at investing in alternative fueled vehicles. Before you buy your next car, take a look at greener vehicles soon available in our country. —Honda first introduced gas-electric hybrids in 1999 with the Insight, …Read more. 10 Percent Challenge I recently received a notice from my local utility company comparing my energy usage with that of my neighbors. According to this home energy report, I used 61 percent less energy than 99 of my neighbors, and I received a double smiley face on my …Read more. Mother's Day Alternatives All the flowers in corporate chains and box stores are imported. The cheap abundance of imported flowers not only has an impact on mom and pop florists and supermarkets but also makes it very hard for American growers to compete. One California …Read more.more articles
Carrying Capacity of Spaceship Earth
Estimates of the Earth's carrying capacity vary according to which population you're measuring because some populations live more sustainably than others. Some scientists say that not only are we living beyond Earth's carrying capacity, but we are also eating up future generations' ability to live within Earth's means. We are literally emptying the Earth's bank account rather than living off the interest, as our ancestors have done, and leaving a "balance due" for future generations.
British geographer Ernst George Ravenstein is credited with first estimating the carrying capacity of the Earth to around 6 billion. Presently, at 6.5 billion, at least a billion of our population does not receive enough food energy to carry out a day's work. Even through Ravenstein was operating on statistics from last century, he hit fairly close to home.
Before Ravenstein, the English clergyman Thomas Robert Malthus argued that human population always increases more rapidly than food supplies and that humans are condemned to breed to the point of misery and starvation. The 200 years since Malthus' essay was first published have proven him wrong. We can artificially increase food production above birth rates and even decline in numbers in the presence of plenty.
The World Hunger Program at Brown University estimated based on 1992 levels of food production and an equal distribution of food that "the world could sustain either 5.5 billion vegetarians, 3.7 billion people who get 15 percent of their calories from animal products (as in much of South America), or 2.8 billion people who derive 25 percent of their calories from animal products (as in the wealthiest countries)."
Clearly we have passed all sustainable estimates and are now entering the "borrowed time" area of the population chart.
This is not a new chapter in human history. We have faced starvation before and triumphed. According to Lester Brown, "In the 15th century, Icelanders realized that overgrazing of their grasslands was leading to soil erosion. Farmers then calculated how many sheep the land could sustain and allocated quotas among themselves, thus preserving their grasslands and a wool industry that thrives today."
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your ecological footprint.
—Measure your ecological footprint at MyFootprint.org.
Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning columnist and founder of the Wallkill River School in Orange County, N.Y. You can contact her at Shawn@ShawnDellJoyce.com. To find out more about Shawn Dell Joyce and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM