Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Resource Depletion in Today’s World

Land degradation

Overpopulation drives land degradations

“Resource depletion is evidence of overpopulation and the need to limit growth.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

September 9, 2017—-Resources used to sustain people includes a variety of elements in the environment. Some sort of resource depletion occurs in almost all types of environments.

Land Degradation

Land degradation has become widespread. Degradation can take many forms. Among these are erosion by water, erosion by wind, and chemical degradation. On a global basis erosion by water accounts for over 50% of total land degradation. Wind erosion accounts for another 30%, and chemical degradation the rest.

Soil Erosion

Soil Erosion is devastating to food growth.

Soil Erosion

Soil has been the basis in agriculture for thousands of years. Some of the most valuable land on the planet consists of land with the best soil for growing crops.

Soil erosion consists of the removal of soil material, the transportation and deposition of the material. Soil erosion is widespread. In some areas the erosion has been, and is so bad the land is no longer usable for agriculture.

In grasslands, where most intensive agriculture takes place, soil erosion is widespread. In the drier parts of the grasslands overgrazing is common. Desertification often results. This is the reduction of the land to essentially desert conditions.

Erosion

Land degradation effects food production.

Deforestation

Deforestation is another example of resource depletion. Vast areas of the tropical rainforest are disappearing rapidly. It is being cleared for agriculture primarily. The huge band of forest in the sub-Arctic is also disappearing. In this case the timber is being cut for lumber.

With the loss of the forest cover, soil erosion becomes pervasive. These forests are important to the climate of Earth as well as a means of livelihood for people. Once these resources are reduced or eliminated, overpopulation inevitably results.

Soil Erosion

Human Activity and Land Degradation

Declining Water Resources

Of the water on the planet, almost all of it is salt water (97.5%) found in the global ocean. Only about 0.5% exists as fresh water in the rivers and lakes on the land masses. The remaining 2% exists as ice in the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers.

The rivers on the planet are extensively degraded due to agricultural and industrial chemicals, urban runoff and human waste. The addition of chemicals and organic matter entering the oceans is changing the chemistry of the water especially in estuaries.

Overpopulation and Resource Depletion

Resource depletion is a substantial factor in growing overpopulation and the need to limit growth. Even without a growing population, resource depletion is, and will continue, to lower the carrying capacity of the planet.

Resource depletion joins population growth, and declining human health as crucial global trends that are now catastrophic in some regions. Don’t let profit prohibit the drive for action that will prevent further destruction of our planet!

Resource Depletion and Overpopulation

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Global Health Problems Indicate the Need to Limit Population

Climate Change

Temperatures are steadily rising on our planet.

“There are some common symptoms of overpopulation. Widespread human health problems are one of them.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

July 16, 2017—-At the time of this writing the global population is estimated to be about 7.4 billion. It is growing at the rate of a billion every 12 years. Earth is a finite object traveling through space with a size which is essentially fixed. An important question is whether the earth can continue to provide the resources to support a continually growing population. Limits to growth implies that there is an upper limit to the size of population a region can support.There may not be an absolute limit to growth in any region but it can still be overpopulated. The resources humans need are those things which provide food, clothing and shelter. Overpopulation occurs when the available resources cannot sustain the number of people without damage to those very resources the people depend on.

Overpopulation and violence

Overpopulation can cause world disaster.

Symptoms of Overpopulation

There are some common symptoms of overpopulation. Widespread human health problems are one of them. Among the health problems are undernutrition, dehydration, and declining resistance to disease. At present, in the early 21st Century, global food production is the highest it has ever been. However, the availability of food varies greatly from place to place. Estimates of the number of people on Earth facing food shortages today vary between 800,000 and two billion. Even if the number is that of the lowest estimate it is a significant portion of the total population.

Food shortages can result from a variety of factors. Civil wars can interrupt agriculture and interfere with the distribution of food. There are many places on Earth where this is now taking place. Syria is perhaps the best know case, but the same situation exits in many other places around the globe.

world hunger

Overpopulation depletes resources

Undernutrition is a Worldwide Health Problem

Scientific data shows that the most important factor associated with physical illness (as distinct from mental illness) is undernutrition. Globally, undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today. At this time it is estimated that more than one billion people suffer some form of undernutrition great enough to be a health problem. This is more than the population of North America and South America combined. It is clear that food production and distribution is not keeping up with demand regionally, if not globally.

Undernutrition does not mean starvation. It means those suffering undernutrition are in some way being physically affected by not getting either enough food or enough healthy food. There are a variety of types of undernutrition based on what is missing in the diet. Dietary deficiencies responsible for undernourishment include iron, iodine, vitamin A, and zinc. The extreme health problem is of course starvation.

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

Geographic Distribution of Undernutrition

The main regions where undernutrition occurs are those regions where subsistence agriculture is the predominate livelihood. This encompasses large areas of Africa and Asia. In Africa a third or more of children under the age of five years undergo growth stunting due to malnutrition. Death by starvation is most prevalent among children. Some specific areas of extensive undernutrition are in Yemen, which is in the midst of a civil war. Estimates indicate at least seven million people are undernourished. In Somalia nearly three million are in danger of severe undernourishment. In Nigeria, as a result of terrorist activity, millions of people are on the verge of starvation. South Sudan has been suffering from a long battle to obtain its freedom from the rest of Sudan and currently from tribal warfare. An estimated million children are severely malnourished with a significant portion facing starvation.

While undernourishment is largely associated with the developing countries it is found to some extent even in the most highly developed countries. The World Bank reported that in 2011 in the United States about five percent of the population was undernourished. The report also concluded that the rate in the United States had remained about the same since 1992.

Undernutrition in Children

Data for the period 2010-2016 indicates a global rate of undernutrition in children of about 23%. In parts of Africa and South Asia the rate is over 30%. Children suffer more from undernutrition than adults because of the high demand for energy and protein associated with physical growth. Some form of undernutrition affects perhaps as many as a fourth of all children. Undernourishment of a fetus and children up to the age of two can lead to a lifetime of physical and/or mental development. A large majority of these children live in developing countries.

The physical symptoms of severe undernourishment, or malnutrition, include reduce body weight or height, swollen stomach or legs, and limited energy. The most common form of malnutrition in children is kwashiorkor. It results from lack of protein and manifests itself in distended stomachs. Malnutrition is the primary cause of nearly a third of early childhood deaths.

Options to Overpopulation

There is no simple answer to the tragic developments now taking place on Planet Earth. One part of the answer is to slow, stop, or reverse population growth. Limiting population growth is an alternative to the dominant economic and political policy based on economic growth that dominates the world today. It is a viable option that would be healthy for both the human population and the planet. This part of the solution requires providing family planning to those that want it and do not now have access to it. It could be implemented almost immediately and make a difference in population growth fairly quickly. Certainly this would make an impact much faster than some other options. This would also be beneficial to women’s health. The problem is that Wall Street and many organized religions thrive on population growth and oppose any change in this direction!

Overpopulations and Solutions


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The Symptoms of Over-population and Limits to Growth

Overpopulation and violence

Overpopulation can cause world disaster.

Even a cursory examination of the world today indicates there is a major problem of overpopulation by the human species.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

May 1, 2017—At the time of this writing the global population is estimated to be about 7.4 billion. It is growing at the rate of a billion every 12 years. Earth is a finite object traveling through space with a size which is essentially fixed. An important question is whether the earth can continue to provide the resources to support a continually growing population. Limits to growth implies that there is an upper limit to the size of population a region can support. There may not be an absolute limit to growth in any region but it can certainly be overpopulated. The resources humans need are those things which provide food, clothing and shelter. Overpopulation occurs when the available resources cannot sustain the number of people without damage to those very resources the people depend on. There are some common symptoms of overpopulation.

Hunger

Overpopulation can devastate the world’s food supply.

Human health problems

Among the health problems are undernutrition, dehydration, and declining resistance to disease. Globally undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem. At this time it is estimated that nearly a billion people suffer some form of it. This is the equivalent of the population of North America and South America combined. Undernutrition does not mean starvation, but that the people in question are in some way being physically affected by not getting either enough food or not getting the right kind of food. Starvation is the extreme case. There are a variety of types of malnutrition based on what is missing in the diet. Essentially malnutrition is the imbalance between the body’s need for nutrients and energy and what the body is actually getting. Another billion do not have fresh water for drinking.

An untold number are suffering from disease related to health problems. Scientific data shows that the most important factor in experiencing physical illness (as distinct from mental illness) is undernutrition. When people are undernourished the probability of getting an infectious disease increases significantly. Children suffer more from undernutrition than adults because of the high demand for energy and protein associated with physical growth. Some form of undernutrition affects as many as a fourth of all children. A large majority of these children live in the developing countries. The most common form of malnutrition in children is kwashiorkor. It results from lack of protein and manifests itself in distended stomachs.

world hunger

Overpopulation depletes resources

Resource Depletion

Resources used to sustain people include a variety of elements in the environment. Some sort of resource depletion occurs in almost all types of environments. Land degradation has become widespread. In grasslands, where most intensive agriculture takes place, soil erosion is widespread. Soil has been the basis for agriculture for thousands of years. Some of the most valuable land on the planet consists of land with the best soil for growing crops. Soil erosion is widespread. In some areas the erosion has been and is so bad the land is no longer usable for agriculture. In the dryer parts of the grasslands overgrazing is common. Desertification often results. This is the reduction of the land to essentially desert conditions.

Deforestation is another example of resource depletion. Vast areas of the tropical rainforest are disappearing rapidly. It is being cleared for agriculture purposes. The huge band of forest in the sub-Arctic is also disappearing. In this case the timber is being cut for lumber. With the lost of the forest cover soil erosion becomes pervasive. These forests are important to the climate of Earth as well as a means of livelihood for people. Once these resources are reduced or eliminated overpopulation inevitably results. With land degradation and deforestation animal species are also disappearing. Animals of all variety provide food, and clothing, and other items. There is currently a global demise of species taking place so great that it is being referred to as a mass extinction.

Overpopulation and hunger

A depletion of resources.

Migration

Human migration is the movement of people from one location to another. It can be from one part of a country to another or across national boundaries. It can involve individuals or numbers in the thousands or millions. The human species has engaged in migration nearly as long as the species has existed on Earth. Present consensus is that the earliest humans developed in an area of East Africa known as as Olduvai Gorge in what is now Kenya. The species spread out from there in all directions. It moved southeast through the open forests into what is now the country of South Africa. Later the species spread north and east across the middle east and all the way to Australia, Asia, and the Americas.

People migrate for a variety of reasons. In the past people may have migrated out of curiosity. A more likely reason is the search for more abundant resources. The massive wave of migration in Europe and the Middle East at the moment is the greatest since the period just before and during world War II. The world is now focused on this current migration due to the problems it is creating. Some of the migration is an attempt to move from areas suffering from overpopulation and a shortage of resources. Another portion is to escape violence in their homeland. Declining employment opportunities is another force driving migration. No continent is exempt from problems due to migration. An influx of large numbers of people into any region can generate major problems. The building of wall, fences, and moats came into existence by groups of people to keep migrants out of their territory.

Violence

It is predictable that when overpopulation occurs, in some cases at least, there will be violence among individuals and groups. Tribalism, indigenous uprisings and terrorism become predictable. Violence among groups may be along ethnic lines, economic status, or political power. Violence has become pervasive around the world as competition for resources increases. Personal violence is epidemic in many cities and countries.

Indigenous uprisings are violent acts by people native to an area. Indigenous uprisings by tribal people have occurred throughout history and on every continent when an external population becomes too oppressive. Many such uprisings have occurred around the world as Europeans moved to take over land used by the people originally occupying it. Such uprisings are now forcing governments to recognize the native people as a political force.

Terrorism is what appears to be a random act of violence, usually directed against groups of people. It almost always involves the killing of unsuspecting people. It is usually carried out to serve the purpose of those committing the act. It can be directed against a political group, a government, religion, or other group. It has been engaged in by individuals, groups, and even governments. These acts of violence are often done in a spectacular fashion so as to attract attention to the perpetrators. Revolutions are an example of violent reaction to government policies

Population Growth: Limited or Uncontrolled

Even a cursory examination of the world today indicates there is a major problem of overpopulation by the human species. There are examples everywhere. Is it possible that the entire planet has reached this stage? If this is the case there are options. We can foster a population in which there is less undernourishment, less massive migration and less violence. Limiting population growth is an alternative to the dominant economic and political policy of economic growth. It is a viable option that would be healthy for both the human population and the planet. The alternative is to allow uncontrolled growth of the population and increase the hazards to all.


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Climate Change: This is What a Vote for Trump Will Cost You!

Climate Change 2016 Elections

Climate Change-Trump has NO plan!

“Climate Change Calls for Action! Don’t opt for hopelessness!”

By Linn Smith

July 31, 2016—-We currently have a presidential candidate that wants to repeal the Climate Action Plan, renew the permit application for the Keystone Pipeline, lift the moratoriums on energy production on federal lands, cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to the U.N. global warming programs. Yes, that would be Donald Trump!

Climate Change: Saving Our Planet

Andy Barowitz wrote an article for the New Yorker magazine using polls conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute. In this article he explained that most people are very frustrated with trying to explain the crises we are headed for to people who don’t want to listen. “Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of deniers, is the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions–this tops the list for people trying to explain our earth’s future catastrophes, with a majority saying they will no longer try to explain this to deniers!”

Carbon Emissions and Global Warming

Carbon Emissions by Country.

A Vote for Donald Trump is a Vote Against Saving Our Planet

But I’m going to say it again! A vote for Trump will result in destruction to our planet. If you really and truly don’t care about the mess we leave our children and grandchildren, or you opt to melt into a useless puddle of hopelessness, which I have often seen lately, you can quit reading now. (And for the Bernie supporters, the world is full of flaws and imperfections–we all gotta deal with it on a regular basis!)

Here are some facts which your children and grandchildren will have to endure during his or her lifetime. This information, from the United Nations and EPA websites, is a result of computer models which have allowed scientists to average all possible scenarios for our planet:

* By 2100, the average U.S. temperature is projected to increase by about 3-12 degrees F, depending on the scenarios and climate model used.
* There will be reduced ice and snow cover.
* Sea levels are on the rise and will continue to do so.
* There will be an increased frequency and duration of extreme weather events.
* The number of days with high temperatures above 90 degrees is expected to increase throughout the U.S., and globally, especially toward the end of century.
* Ground level air temperatures are expected to continue to warm more rapidly over land.
* The combination of crops yielding less, due to climate change and overpopulation of our earth, is going to lead to starvation of many.

Climate change and crop yields

Climate Change will effect crop yields.

* There will be more heat related deaths.
* Winter weather patterns will move northward with southern areas having more rain than snow.
* There will be an increase in the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes.
* Forest fires are on the rise and will continue at an accelerated pace.
* An increase in diseases, which is on the rise today.
* An increase in civil disorder due to disease and food shortages.
* There will be an extinction of many animals (including eventually ourselves)……..and this list could go on!

Species Extinction and climate change

Spec!ies Extinction will happen has the temperatures rise

These changes will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and our own health!

El Nino’s Impact

Don Paul of the Buffalo News states, “We have now experienced our 14th consecutive record warm month globally, far beyond the range of El Nino’s impact. These are broad climate trends not short term weather trends. There are uncertainties about how fast global warming will continue to take place in the future but scientists agree, it will take place, with peaks and valleys in daily local weather patterns.”

If we stabilize greenhouse gases today, surface air temperatures will continue to warm because greenhouse gases can stay in our atmosphere for hundreds of years. But it is still possible to limit the increase in global mean temperatures to two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, when the earth’s temperature began to increase. We need to act now!

When you vote in the 2016 election vote for a healthy planet!

Do the Next Right Thing!


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We Have Met the Enemy

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

By Pogo
(Kelley, Poster 1970 Earth Day)

By Dr. John J. Hidore
October 16, 2015—Over the period that humans have been a species on Earth the number of individuals has increased over time. At first it increased very slowly. Gradually the total population increased and is currently increasing at a faster rate than previously recorded. There have been times when disaster struck, which slowed the population growth, or possibly even decreased the total number of people.

Growing Pressure on Earth’s Resources

During the 21st century the earth has added approximately 80 million persons each year. For each additional person added to the total, there must be additional resources of food, fresh water, energy supplies, and material for clothing and shelter. There has been growing pressure on Earth’s resources to support this rapid increase in population. The 2013 report by the Inerter-governmental panel on Climate Change states, “Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.” The growth of the human population and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are not only similar, but follow the same growth pattern.

The key to reducing climate change, global hunger, and poverty is to slow, stop, or reverse population growth. There are means available to slow or even stop the growth. However, there is tremendous pressure to keep the population growing. There are major groups that thrive on population growth and spend huge amounts of money and time to keep it growing.

population

Population growth accelerating.

Organized Religions thrive on Population Growth

Many organized religions contribute to climate change and global poverty. The strength of organized religions is in the size of their adherents. Since their power lies in their numbers they often encourage large families and oppose the use of any kind of family planning including birth control. Population growth could be slowed substantially if it were not for this type of thinking of many organized religions.

The two major religions in terms of membership are Christianity and Islam. There are about 2.1 billion adherents of Christianity. The holy book of Christianity is the Bible which does not address the issue of family planning. Within Christianity there are many different organized churches, the largest being the Catholic Church with approximately 1.2 billion members. The Catholic Church has long considered any kind of birth control to be a sin and this was reiterated by Pope Francis this year. Other Christian churches also support rules against abortion and the use of contraceptives.

There are approximately 1.5 billion followers of Islam. The Islamic holy book is the Quran. Like the Bible, the Quran does not prohibit family planning and does not formally address the issue. Some forms of contraception have been in use in Islamic countries since the origin of Islam. In today’s world the followers of Islam have a wide variety of choices of birth control. In some countries, where Islam is the prevalent religion, contraceptive use among women is a high as 70%. In others it is estimated to be substantial. Islam has strict rules that prohibit sexual relations before marriage. It views sexual relations between husband and wife as an expression of love and is encouraged. However, prohibition of contraception has grown as a means of increasing the followers of Islam. Many other countries or sects are prohibiting contraception for a variety of reasons.

population growth and energy needs

With population growth comes the accelerated need for energy.

Wall Street and Economic Development Thrive on Population Growth

Nations that advocate economic growth do so for reasons of profit. In much of the world today the advocates of increasing profits control the economic policies. In countries such as the United States and other western countries, almost all governmental economic decisions are aimed at increasing the market for goods and increasing profits. The profit motive inevitably overrides the needs of the majority of the human population or the impact on the environment. The end result is often predictable–civil disobedience and popular uprisings!

Much of the global business community has denied climate change and resource scarcity since before the Kyoto conference, and has been a major proponent of population growth in the name of profit. This manifests itself in the form of government opposition to family planning, sponsoring legislation to limit abortion and contraception. It is often counselled by the global business community as a woman’s health issue.

National and tribal interests

In some religions and geographical areas, the use of birth control methods is considered a crime. A case in point is the nation of Iran. This year the government declared the use of contraceptives to be a criminal act. Even in some secular countries there are laws that make abortion a crime of murder even to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape.

Iran is not alone. A number of European countries have become concerned about their declining birthrate. Among them are Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Italy. The populations of these countries, as in many European countries, is aging due to the low birth rates. The number of residents over the age of 65 has nearly doubled the world average and is expected to increase. This has major economic and social impact on these countries. Denmark has now introduced education on having children, as well as not having them.

These group policies are responsible for much of the rapid growth in population. Their self-interest is more important than the welfare of the human population or the condition of the environment. It is time the effect of these policies should be made clear and the policies made subject to re-evaluation. Much of the global population is now under great stress as is the environment.

Each day without action increases the stress and the probability of a global human disaster.


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Recent Global Changes of Note

Heat waves and global warming--i.e. climate change!

With climate changes comes broken temperatures!

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now the highest it has been in the past 800,000 years.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

September 25, 2015—Planet Earth is now in a period of rapid change. A fundamental driving force in many cases is the growth of the human population. From the time of its origin until now the population has been growing faster and faster. It took modern humans some 200,000 years to reach a total of one billion individuals. We have added another billion in less than 15 years since the start of the century. The global population now stands at over 7, 368,000,000. Many of the global changes taking place at this time are a result of human activity. Examples from recent years of the 21st century serve to indicate just how fast it is changing.

Year 2014

There has been an overall increase in global temperatures at least since 1900. Global temperatures for the years 1880 to 1980 were below the mean for the 20th Century. Since 1980 global annual temperatures have been above the mean of the 20th Century. The 10 warmest years have occurred since 1997. The three warmest years since 1880 were 2005, 2010, and 2014, all in this century. 2014 was the warmest year on the earth since records have been kept (136 years). The first seven months of 2015 are the warmest for the period since records have been kept.

Global Greenhouse Gases

Climate Change

Warming of the Arctic

Parts of the arctic region are now the warmest they have been in 44,000 years. The warming is taking place around the North Pole including the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding land masses. Most of the ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic broke away from land during the past 14 years. Every summer for the last ten years the area of sea ice has been below the average of the previous 20 years. On Sept 17, 2014 the area of sea ice in the Arctic reached its lowest in recorded history. The extent of the ice was 1.9 million square miles (1.94 million square kilometers). In mid-September of 2015, the extent of the ice was a little greater than in 2014 but still among the least.

Freshwater melting from Arctic ice sheets is slowing the Gulf Stream. Further slowing of the Gulf Stream could cause a three foot rise in sea level on the east cost of the United States. This is in addition to the rise in sea level due to climate change.

Year 2015

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the burning of organic fuels has released more than 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now the highest it has been in the past 800,000 years. Global CO2 reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in history. The level has increased 85 ppm in the 55 years, since measurements were first made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. This represents a 25% increase since 1958. This rate has been increasing more rapidly in the past few decades. This rate of change parallels the growth of the human population and the probability is that it will continue increasing even faster. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for as long as 1000 years!

Antarctica

On March 24, 2015 at Hope Bay, Antarctica, the temperature reached 17.5 OC (63.5o F), the highest ever recorded on the Antarctic continent. This temperature was recorded at the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula at Argentina’s Esperanza Base, and nearly as high a temperature was recorded the day before.

Rising Temperatures in India

This year a May heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Heat waves are fairly frequent in India but this was the greatest loss of life from a heat wave in over 30 years, with extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread as a result of high demand for air conditioning. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 118.4oF (48o C). Other high temperatures recorded were:
Allahabad 118 F (47.8 C)
Delhi 113 F (45.5 C)
Hyderabad 115 F (46.0 C)
Jharsuguda 113.7 F (45.4 C)

Working toward 100% renewables

Working Toward Renewable Energy

The Pakistan Heat Wave

In June the deadliest heat wave known to have occurred in Pakistan took place in the southern part of the country near Karachi. The death toll is unknown for certain but may have reached more than 1000, and was followed by several weeks the severe heat wave that struck India. The heat wave struck during the month of Ramadan which made the impact of the event more severe than it might have been. Unfortunately, city services were not in condition to cope with the heat.

In the U.S. President Obama has advocated for action on slowing climate change and visited Alaska where global warming is changing the lives of the native people.

Pope Francis’s Warning

On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis issued “Laudato Si,” a plea for the environment, which is a remarkable change from recent heads of the Catholic Church. He stated, “The current climate change is the result of human activity and, to reduce climate change and pollution, we must convert from using fossil fuels to using renewable energy sources.” His message: We all must work together for change!


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Are There Limits to Population Growth?

Sustaining Earth's Growing Population

Is our Earth overpopulated?

Perhaps the earth’s sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

June 14,2015—The human population has been growing since the origin of the species homo, more than three million years ago. Modern humans developed about 200,000 years ago. The size of the population has increased during this long time span. Although it has not grown at a steady rate, the number of inhabitants of our planet has been rising. In the last century, it has increased at a faster rate than anytime during this span.

Increasing Beyond Available Resources

In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthius, a British economist, wrote about the principle of population growth. He concluded that humans would increase in number beyond the available resources to sustain them, and when this stage was reached the population would begin to decline. Disease, famine and war would reduce the population to a size our planet could support.

The basis of his conclusion? There is a limit to food, and other natural resources that are necessary to sustain the human population. This limit has become known as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the upper limit of a given population which can be sustained without damage to the environment. The ultimate limit to the carrying capacity on our planet depends on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the ability of green plants, algae, and bacteria to convert solar energy to living organic matter.

The Need to Limit Growth

In 1968, a Stanford University biologist, Paul Ehrlich, authored a book entitled “The Population Bomb”. He illustrated the dangers of the rapidly growing population. At this time, the Earth’s population was approximately 3.5 billion. In 1972, the results of the first simulation model of the global economic system were published. The study was produced by a Futures group, known as the Club of Rome, formed from world industrial leadership by Aurio Peccei and Alexamder King. The study was titled “Limits to Growth” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens, 1972).

There was global response to this report. By some, it was taken as a projection of doom for the earth, as we know it, by the year 2100. The report showed what the future would hold if we did not interfere with present trends. The study supported the original findings of Malthus.

In spite of many attacks on “Limits to Growth”, the thesis of the book persists. No one can dispel the basic forecast presented. There is too much evidence that the prediction may eventually come true. Coupled with this is a growing, and perhaps fully warranted, fear that the human population is setting in motion forces of a scale of space and time that we can no longer control.

Population and Consumption

Will Earth’s resources support our growing population?

Carrying Capacity of the Earth

Based on this premise, the carrying capacity of Earth has limits for the human species. Studies have indicated that we may have passed the carrying capacity in the late 20th Century. While it is not possible to say exactly when this occurred, one estimate placed it in 1986. What is implied in this conclusion, is that we began consuming more than plant growth can sustain, and so environmental degradation is taking place. This degradation is now almost universal on the planet. It varies in form from place to place and varies in degree, but it is there. One study determined that we are now exceeding the carrying capacity by as much as twenty percent.

There Are No Limits To Growth

There was considerable opposition to the idea of limits to population growth. First and foremost is that the population has grown to over seven billion and continues to grow. A basic criticism of the projection of a limit of growth has been that the studies did not take into consideration the growth of technology. We are no longer dependent on the natural resources for food, clothing and shelter that were available in the past. Human intelligence has been creating new resources that allow the population to grow. Proponents of economic development insist that we will be able to create new resources to support unlimited growth in the future. At the current time, projections are being made for our population to grow between nine and twenty billion. These large numbers are certainly possible but only with increased poverty and need by the majority of these billions. This year, it is estimated that one billion of ou existing population will suffer some stage of malnutrition, and approximately a billion will not have fresh drinking water.

The Options

The important question we need to ask: What quality of life do we want for the majority of the earth’s population, and how much can we alter the natural environment and still sustain growth. That we are now altering the entire planet is clear. Does it matter? The “Sixth Extinction” by Elizbeth Kolbert, plus our currently changing climate, suggests we may be reducing the ability of the planet to sustain the population we now have. Many studies suggest that we have already grown well beyond the ultimate carry capacity. Perhaps the sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

(Article 1st Published December 2014)


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Are There Limits to Population Growth?

Sustaining Earth's Growing Population

Is our Earth overpopulated?

Perhaps the earth’s sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

December 30, 2014—The human population has been growing since the origin of the species homo, more than three million years ago. Modern humans developed about 200,000 years ago. The size of the population has increased during this long time span. Although it has not grown at a steady rate, the number of inhabitants of our planet has been rising. In the last century, it has increased at a faster rate than anytime during this span.

Increasing Beyond Available Resources

In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthius, a British economist, wrote about the principle of population growth. He concluded that humans would increase in number beyond the available resources to sustain them, and when this stage was reached the population would begin to decline. Disease, famine and war would reduce the population to a size our planet could support.

The basis of his conclusion? There is a limit to food, and other natural resources that are necessary to sustain the human population. This limit has become known as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the upper limit of a given population which can be sustained without damage to the environment. The ultimate limit to the carrying capacity on our planet depends on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the ability of green plants, algae, and bacteria to convert solar energy to living organic matter.

The Need to Limit Growth

In 1968, a Stanford University biologist, Paul Ehrlich, authored a book entitled “The Population Bomb”. He illustrated the dangers of the rapidly growing population. At this time, the Earth’s population was approximately 3.5 billion. In 1972, the results of the first simulation model of the global economic system were published. The study was produced by a Futures group, known as the Club of Rome, formed from world industrial leadership by Aurio Peccei and Alexamder King. The study was titled “Limits to Growth” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens, 1972).

There was global response to this report. By some, it was taken as a projection of doom for the earth, as we know it, by the year 2100. The report showed what the future would hold if we did not interfere with present trends. The study supported the original findings of Malthus.

In spite of many attacks on “Limits to Growth”, the thesis of the book persists. No one can dispel the basic forecast presented. There is too much evidence that the prediction may eventually come true. Coupled with this is a growing, and perhaps fully warranted, fear that the human population is setting in motion forces of a scale of space and time that we can no longer control.

Population and Consumption

Will Earth’s resources support our growing population?

Carrying Capacity of the Earth

Based on this premise, the carrying capacity of Earth has limits for the human species. Studies have indicated that we may have passed the carrying capacity in the late 20th Century. While it is not possible to say exactly when this occurred, one estimate placed it in 1986. What is implied in this conclusion, is that we began consuming more than plant growth can sustain, and so environmental degradation is taking place. This degradation is now almost universal on the planet. It varies in form from place to place and varies in degree, but it is there. One study determined that we are now exceeding the carrying capacity by as much as twenty percent.

There Are No Limits To Growth

There was considerable opposition to the idea of limits to population growth. First and foremost is that the population has grown to over seven billion and continues to grow. A basic criticism of the projection of a limit of growth has been that the studies did not take into consideration the growth of technology. We are no longer dependent on the natural resources for food, clothing and shelter that were available in the past. Human intelligence has been creating new resources that allow the population to grow. Proponents of economic development insist that we will be able to create new resources to support unlimited growth in the future. At the current time, projections are being made for our population to grow between nine and twenty billion. These large numbers are certainly possible but only with increased poverty and need by the majority of these billions. This year, it is estimated that one billion of ou existing population will suffer some stage of malnutrition, and approximately a billion will not have fresh drinking water.

The Options

The important question we need to ask: What quality of life do we want for the majority of the earth’s population, and how much can we alter the natural environment and still sustain growth. That we are now altering the entire planet is clear. Does it matter? The “Sixth Extinction” by Elizbeth Kolbert, plus our currently changing climate, suggests we may be reducing the ability of the planet to sustain the population we now have. Many studies suggest that we have already grown well beyond the ultimate carry capacity. Perhaps the sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.


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Making a Difference in Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Megacities and CO2

Megacities are currently in action to reduce greenhouse gases

Many people are aware of the problems ahead, leading efforts to make a difference in emissions due to burning coal.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

December 18, 2015—Coal is the dirtiest and least expensive of the fossil fuels. Burning coal emits soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As a result, coal causes more illness and fatalities than other fossil fuels. The consumption of coal increased 54% in the years from 2000 to 2011. In this 10 year period, China’s coal consumption went up by about 1½ times, oil consumption doubled, and natural gas by 3 times the previous amount. China now burns almost half of all coal consumed each year. In the same time period, India’s coal consumption has more than doubled, oil consumption increase by half and natural gas by 131%. In the summer of 2012, a coal dependent power grid collapsed producing a blackout that affected 640 million people.

Leading Efforts to Make a Difference

It is clear that world consumption of coal as an energy source is increasing in many nations. However, many people are aware of the problems ahead, leading efforts to make a difference in greenhouse gas emissions. One such effort was led by the mayor of London, England. In 2005, the mayor invited representatives of 18 of the world’s largest cities to meet and discuss the need for large cities to take action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Soon after, with the help of the Clinton Climate Initiative, the group grew to 40. The merger of two groups in 2012 led to the formation of what was designated as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

There are three levels of membership in this group. The original and core section is that of megacities. Megacities are defined as cities with currently more than three million people or metropolitan areas of over 10 million, either currently or projected by 2025. Cities are also admitted to this class if they are among the top 25 cities in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The number of megacity members has now grown to more than 60.

There are two other categories of members which allow smaller cities to participate in the program. To date nearly 5000 measurable actions have been initiated that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide. Already existing actions taken by these cities are expected to reduce emissions by 248 million tons by 2020 and by one billion tons by 2030.

The Megacities Carbon Project

Controlling Pollution Over Megacities

The City of Los Angeles: Coal Free by by 2025

The city of Los Angeles is one of the megacity members of the C40 group. As part of their action plan, the city has pledged to become coal free of energy sources by 2025. The mayor and Board of Water and Power Commissioners of Los Angeles have announced a plan to be coal free. The city currently gets 39% of its electrical energy from coal driven power plants, located in Utah and Arizona. The city will end its contract with Arizona in 2015, and will convert the Utah plant to natural gas by 2025. Between 2005 and 2013, Los Angeles increased the amount of energy used from renewable sources from three to twenty percent.

Other Notable Events Related to Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions

1. A Nevada coal fired plant was shut down due to activist pressure. In May of 2014, NV Energy announced plans to close its four coal fired power units of the Reid-Gardner Generating Station near Moapa, Nevada. The plant has been a point of contention in Nevada for many years. The Moapa Indians attribute a variety of health problems to this plant. The problems include asthma, heart disease, and lung disease due to coal dust.
2. President Obama, along with the EPA, has placed future limits on coal burning plants.
3. Eleven cities have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.
4. In 2014, Ontario, Canada announced that it will become the first North American industrial region to eliminate coal power.
5. The World Bank has declared it will sharply restrict funding for new coal-fired power plants in developing countries.
6. The US Import-Export Bank has declined to fund a huge new coal plant in Vietnam on environmental grounds.
7. A bureau of land management lease sale for 149 million tons of coal in the Powder River Valley has failed to attract a single bid.

Many people and organizations have recognized the urgency of climate change and are working to make a difference!


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Our Rapidly Changing World

Our Food Supply may be Rapidly Reduced with Rises in Temperatures.

“There is nothing permanent except change”

Heraclitus , Circa 500 BC

By Dr. John J. Hidore

August 22, 2014—Change through time is a basic attribute of Earth. Earth has been undergoing constant change since it was formed from a cloud of cosmic dust some 4.6 billion years ago. The changes that have taken place and are taking place vary in form, size, duration and areal extent. Days use to be shorter than now; the planet has been both warmer and colder than it is now and the magnetic poles of Earth have changed end for end. Mountain ranges have grown and then eroded away. Ancient seas no longer exist; and biological species have appeared and disappeared. Even the sun which supports life on the planet is not a constant source of energy.

Our Changing Climate

Earth’s climate has changed through time like all else. Throughout most of the history of Earth, the planet was much warmer than it is now. The initial atmosphere contained high concentrations of carbon dioxide and little oxygen. Eventually, the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen changed to what we have now with much more oxygen. Scattered through time were ages of extreme cold. The earliest ice age took place two billion years ago. The second glaciation took place between 800 and 600 million years ago. This may have been the most extensive glaciation ever to occur on the planet.

Today Our Climate is Changing Faster than at Any Other Time

The global environment is changing now faster than at any time in recent history. What is most significant perhaps is that not only is it changing at a rapid rate but the rate at which it is changing is itself increasing. Simply put the environment in which all living things exist is changing faster and faster. A few examples of current phenomenon will serve to make the point.

Modern humans or Homo Sapien Sapien evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago. From Africa the species spread out over the planet. It took the modern human species more than a hundred thousand years to reach a total population of one quarter million. We are now adding a quarter million people to the planet each and every day. Each of these added individuals needs food, clothing, and shelter in order to survive. In addition to meeting the needs for survival, they will want many of the amenities of life that are found in the most prosperous countries.

The Rapid Growth of Human Population

Much of the rapid change taking place now is tied to the phenomenal growth of the human population. One of these rapid changes taking place now is the elimination of animal and plant species. There have been times in the past when a large number of species became extinct due to some natural catastrophe. These times are referred to as mass extinctions. Species of plants and animals are now becoming extinct at an extremely high rate. The rate of extinction of species before human development is estimated to have been about one species every ten years. The current rate is at least 100 each year and possibly as high as 1000 each year. Elephants are one species of animal whose numbers are declining rapidly. One hundred thousand elephants were killed in the two years from 2010 to 2012. Satao, the largest known African Elephant was killed by poachers in Kenya near the end of May 2014.

The Monarch Butterfly has Rapidly Reduced in Numbers.

The Rapidly Disappearing Monarch Butterfly

Another example of how fast species are declining is that of the monarch butterfly. Less than two decades ago as many as a billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. In the fall of 2013, that number dropped to a tiny fraction (1/30) of previous decades. The primary reason for the drop in numbers is the tremendous application of herbicides to agricultural fields. This rapid drop in butterflies is just one of what is now considered to be the sixth mass extinction.

Record Breaking Temperatures

Earth’s climate is being altered by the human species. The planet is warming up due to human activity. The highest average atmospheric temperatures ever recorded for the months of May and June occurred in 2014. The heating is having a profound impact on almost all parts of the environment including the world ocean.

What the outcome of these rapid changes for the human population and other living species is not known. An even cursory look at what is happening on the planet in 2014 suggests that some drastic changes in the behavior of the human population need to take place now.

The only question is whether the people understand and will demand the changes.