Planet Earth Weekly

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


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Global Violence Is a Symptom of Overpopulation and the Need to Limit Growth

Aristotle

Poverty and Revolution

“There are many factors which precipitate violence. Poverty and unemployment are two key ones in today’s world.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

March 16, 2018—-Among the symptoms of global overpopulation and the need to limit population growth are widespread human health problems, resource depletion, and migration. Violence must be added to these symptoms.

Violence can be defined as the use of physical force to injure or abuse another person or persons. It also includes mental injury due to the distorting of the truth or verbal abuse. It should be pointed out that most violence does not result in death. Among the elements that most often lead to violence are: poverty, resource depletion, regional health problems, such as under nutrition, and alternative facts. These factors are often difficult to separate from one another. By far the greatest number of acts of violence do not result in death. These acts include physical assaults such as rape and beatings. Verbal abuse and threats of physical violence are also widespread, particularly. Deaths due to violence have increased in recent decades. In 2013, the most recent year for which the World Health Organization has data, an estimated 1.3 million people died from violence. Self inflicted action, or suicide, was responsible for the greatest share of the deaths, 65% of the total.

Crime and revolution

Poverty and Crime result from overpopulaton.

Violence by Individuals

Violence involving relationships between individuals accounts for another 32% of deaths. In the interpersonal death by violence, knifes and guns were the primary weapons used. The United States is the worlds leader in death by firearms. Approximately 70% of all guns privately owned on the planet are in the United Sates, mostly by men. In total numbers it is estimated there are about 300 million guns privately owned in the United States. In the last few years death by gun has passed the 30,000 mark. It now exceeds those killed in automobile accidents. Mass shootings are increasing in frequency and numbers killed. Many of these involve killing children in schools.

Overpopulation and hunger

A depletion of resources.

Group Violence

The remaining deaths were due to war between tribes or nations. In today’s world extreme violence has become global. Religion is one of the factors in group violence and tribal wars. The best known of these tribal wars is that between Christianity and Islam. However, there is violence between Islamic groups and between groups classified as Christians. The clash between Shiite and Sunni Muslims is one example. Within the major religions there are often extremist sections that promote violence such as the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Isil in the middle east.

Contributing Factors and Trends

There are many factors which precipitate violence. Poverty and unemployment are two key ones in today’s world. The prospects for much of the population in the poor countries are not good. It should be clear that the income gap is contributing to global unrest and increased violence. Most of the increase in national wealth will go to just a few people.

One can only conclude there will be more and more violence as civil uprisings by every large numbers of people as they protest the continual decrease in income and resources available to them. It should be reiterated that the vast majority of violence does not result in death. However, the physical and mental pain that accompanies non-fatal incidents is just as real and long lasting.

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Global unrest and violence

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The State Of The Human Species On Planet Earth

By Dr. John J. Hidore

“Undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today.”

February 2, 2018—-The human population on planet Earth has grown astonishingly fast and spread over the earth as few other species have. Global population is growing faster than at any time in history. We are now adding over 200,000 people per day to the planet. This amounts to 85,000,000 people each year.

What is astonishing is how fast the rate of growth has been increasing. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the first billion to be reached in about 1800. The last billion was added in just 12 years from 1999 to 2011. At the beginning of 2018 global population growth stood at about 7.6 billion.

Adding the billions

1 billion 1800 200,000 Years of population growth for modern humans
2 billion 1930 130 years
3 billion 1960 30 years
4 billion 1974 14 years
5 billion 1987 13 years
6 billion 1999 12 years
7 Billion 2011 12 years
8 Billion 2023-2025 12-15 years (Date estimated from various sources)

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

Food Shortages and Undernourishment

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. Globally, undernutrition is probably the greatest health problem in the world today. 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 from undernutrition are in some way being physically affected by not getting either enough food or not getting the right kind of food. The extreme health problem is starvation.

According to data from the UN, in 2016 the number of people experiencing undernutrition grew to an estimated 815 million. Of these, approximately 200 million children suffered some form of reduced physical growth.

overpopulation

Overpopulation and climate change creates environmental stress.

Fresh Water Shortages

The absence of safe water to drink is widespread over the planet. Estimates if the number of people suffering from a shortage of safe water for drinking ranges from 600 million upwards to two billion. Over a third of the global human population now lives in water stressed regions. The ratio of population living with water related stress may increase by half by 2100. Disease is common in areas where there is no safe water to drink. Diarrhea is the most common problem resulting from contaminated water. Cholera is also prevalent.

South Sudan is one of many countries suffering from a shortage of potable water. It is estimated that less than half of the population has access to safe water. In some areas of the country women must spend an hour or more each day to get to a safe water supply and return. The trip must be made regardless of danger.

In the country of Puerto Rico, which was devastated by a hurricane last September, many residents do not have access to safe drinking water four months after the event.

At the time of this writing the city of Capetown, South Africa, with a population of four million, is faced with the possible shutoff of its water supply. Unless rains come soon this may happen within a few months. A three year drought in the watershed is responsible for the problem. How the population will react to the situation remains to be seen.

Overpopulation and violence

Overpopulation can cause world disaster.

Lack of Sanitation Facilities

Between a half billion and a billion people do not have access to a sanitary toilet facility. The majority live in Asia, but this lack of sanitation is spread over the globe, including countries such as Haiti and Mexico. In the beginning when human population numbers were small and scattered, defecating in the open was the standard. This behavior probably predominated over most of human history. It has only been in the last few thousand years that it has not been the standard. As population densities have grown it has become unacceptable. The activity became not only unsavory but unhealthy, as it became a mechanism for transmitting disease. Defecating in the open, whether in fields or vacant lots, is responsible for a many diseases and fatalities, particularly among children. Diarrhea is common among children that play in areas used for defecation. Diarrhea is estimated to kill more than 600,000 children a year under the age of five. The UN estimated that in 2016 nearly 40% children in India had stunted growth due to a combination of undernutrition and disease. The problem now is the numbers and concentration of people spreading diseases through unsanitary conditions.

That the human population has been successful on the planet is clearly evident from the growing numbers. However, while the population has grown by leaps and bounds, there has been, and currently is, much suffering by a substantial portion of the population. The number facing severe problems of survival at the current time is the greatest in history.

Inherent in this situation are two problems. One is the tremendous rate of growth of the population itself. The second is that of the uneven distribution of wealth and resources. Both the population growth rate and the unequal distribution of resources could be changed fairly rapidly, but is unlikely. It appears neither the wealthiest one per cent nor the world religions want to reduce population growth. In the last year for which data is available 82% of all income went to the richest one percent.


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 Agrivoltaics: Growing Food for the Future

Agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics: Food and Solar

“Agrivoltaics combines agriculture with energy efficiency while growing plants beneath solar panels.”

By Linn Smith

January 28, 2018—- Co-location means two or more groups, sharing the same place. Agrivoltaics, also known as Agrophotovoltaics, means using the same piece of land for solar power plus agriculture. Agrivoltaics, or solar farming, is a new way of growing plants, combining agriculture with energy efficiency while growing plants beneath solar panels.

Agrivoltaics: Dual Use of Land

In 1981, Adolf Goetzberger and Armin Zastrow developed the idea to improve overall production of crops. Dr. Goetzberger founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany. His work involved making solar an alternative to fossil fuels. In 1981, he published a paper titled, “Potatoes under the Collector,” which proposed a setup for solar energy systems in combination with agricultural land use.

agrivoltaics

Growing food with solar

Dr. Eicke Weber, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute stated, “In view of the dynamic worldwide growth of solar installations of the last decade and the increase in land usage resulting from solar installation systems, innovative concepts, like agrophotovoltaics (agrivoltaics) which facilitates the dual usage of agricultural land, help to further and accelerate the transformation of the global energy system.”

Dr. Goetzberger used the term Agrophotovoltaics or APV, as a method of harvesting the sun for both power and production of crops. APV is currently an ongoing project in Germany which demonstrates that land for both growing crops and solar electricity are compatible. Dual use of the land is resource efficient, reduces competition for land and opens up a new source of income for farmers.

The APV System

The APV system was installed on organic farmland in Germany in 2015. Approximately seven acres were used to produce crops under the ground-mounted solar panels, which were built about 5 yards off the ground. Four different crops were planted. The land in use not only generates electricity from the solar panels but is also growing food. The solar panels provide a uniform light distribution on the crops using reflection. To prove their theory, they also planted a control plot nearby using the same 4 crops, excluding the solar panels. The scientists wanted to determine which crops would grow best. Result: The crops under the APV system produced about 80% of that of the control crop. This experiment is ongoing and data will be analyzed in 2018.

agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics: Growing food to feed the planet.

Agrivoltaics and Biosphere2

A similar experiment was being conducted at Biosphere2 when I visited several weeks ago. This research, headed by Barron-Gafford, Assistant Professor, revealed that the solar system above the crops created a warmer environment than normal when no plants were beneath , similar to the heat-island effect that happens in cities surrounded by cement and asphalt. He stated, “So think about it, if you get rid of all the plants when you put in renewables energy, you’ve gotten rid of that cooling potential… plants under the panels would allow the air to circulate and would take up carbon for photosynthesis by opening up their pores, or stomata, while letting water escape from their leaves and you get a warmer environment. We wanted to see if you put the cooling effect back into the system by growing plants beneath the solar panels, you can actually cool those panels back down and mitigate that heat island effect.”

When solar panels get too warm they start to lose their efficiency. By growing plants beneath the panels they can cool down and retain that efficiency, which makes for more renewable energy per parcel of land. The panels also shade the plants, reduce evaporation and the crops require less water to grow underneath.

agrivoltaics

Agrivoltaics

In the future, as world population grows, solar and land for food must not be in competition. The world population today is approximately 7.6 billion. Two hundred years ago it was 1 billion. At the close of the 21st century the population will be more than 11 billion. The question remains…will we be able to feed our planet’s population and meet the demand for clean energy?

Agrivoltaics and Clean Energy

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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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  The Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer

Ogallala aquifer depletion

Depletion of the aquifer

“The Ogallala is recharged by rainwater but only about 1 inch of precipitation actually reaches the aquifer annually.”

By Linn Smith

April 12, 2016—–The Ogallala Aquifer is at risk of drying up! The aquifer, which is part of the High Plains Aquifer, underlies portions of 8 states, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, and spans 175,000 sq. miles in the midwest United States. Water from the aquifer has many uses but irrigation uses the majority—57 million gallons per day! The Ogallala also supplies approximately 82% of the drinking water for the overlying states.

Water Accumulation in the Ogallala

Water started accumulating in the aquifer 15,000 years ago. Brownie Wilson, a researcher for the Kansas Geological Survey, states, “If the topsoil were rolled up like a carpet the sponge beneath would look like an empty egg carton, with peaks and valleys of varying depths. In parts of western Nebraska, where the Ogallala is plentiful, the sponge extends as far as a thousand feet below the Earth’s surface.”

Depletion of the Ogallala

The Aquifer lies beneath 8 states.

Water Extraction of the Aquifer

Large scale extraction of water from the aquifer for farming purposes began after WWII due to improved farming methods and farm equipment. About 27% of the irrigated farmland in the U.S. lies over the aquifer. Currently the farmland above the aquifer produces about 1/5 of the beef, corn and wheat consumed in the U.S., but the water is depleting faster than nature can replenish it according to an ongoing 60 year study.

In some parts of western Kansas wells have totally dried up! Between the years 2000 and 2008, 25% of the Ogallala Aquifer has depleted from levels of the early 1800’s. Once depleted the aquifer will take over 6,000 years to replenish naturally from rainfall. A 2013 study forecasted that the High Plains Aquifer, which the Ogallala makes up the greatest portion, would be 69% depleted by 2060.The Ogallala is recharged by rainwater but only about 1 inch of precipitation actually reaches the aquifer annually. Recharge of the aquifer ranges from 0.024 inches per year in Texas and New Mexico to 6 inches per year in parts of Kansas, but hundreds of thousands of years of rainfall will be needed to replenish it back to its levels of the early 1800’s.

Ogallala aquifer

U.S. Aquifers are being depleted.

A Depleted Aquifer will Affect Food Supply

In an article written by Laura Parker,” What Happens to the Midwest When the Water’s Gone?” she states “If they don’t reduce pumping and the aquifer is drained, food markets will be profoundly affected around the world. In the coming decades this slow-speed crisis will unfold just as the world needs to increase food production by 60 percent, according to the United Nations, to feed more than nine billion people by mid-century.”

Solutions to a Depleted Aquifer

Solutions? Farmers can either conserve water and extend the life of the aquifer or choose to deplete it. Farmers can dig deeper wells if they run out of water, but the cost has to be determined because eventually deeper and deeper wells could cost more than the income from the crops.

The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District in Texas has introduced a new project to conserve water. Participating farmers grow corn with just over half of the water they would normally require to irrigate the fields using pivot sprinklers rather than the water consuming drip system and they plant crops farther apart to help conserve water. Many farmers are choosing the dryland farming method which uses crops that are drought-resistant and conserve moisture without irrigation. Such crops include sunflowers and winter wheat, but these crops produce less income than crops from irrigated farming, so pressure is on many farmers to keep pumping.

The Ogallala Aquifer and Water Rights

What is happening to the Ogallala Aquifer is also happening to aquifers in Africa, Asia and the Mideast. Again, just as the population of our earth is exploding, our aquifers are becoming contaminated and depleted, taking thousands of years to refill. We need to conserve our groundwater to sustain food production for an increasing population. In Kansas and Nebraska, groundwater belongs to the public. Water rights are granted to property owners by the state, which assign a certain amount that can be legally used—-but what’s available on paper often exceeds what’s left in the ground! Farmers often feel the water is legally theirs to use until it’s gone!

Laura Parker says, “Hope lies in technology; farmers show me iPhone apps that track water use so precisely that as little as a tenth of an inch can be applied to their crops. In Colby, Kansas, Lon Frahm, who farms 30,000 acres of wheat and corn, irrigates with two billion gallons of water yearly. He counts among his farmhands an IT technician who collects data to keep his yields ahead of his declining wells.”

Wind Farms Replace Crops

In the past several years many farmers have retired from crop farming, leasing their land to wind energy. Outside Friona, Texas, northwest of Lubbock, Wesley Barnett leases wind rights on his land to an energy company. The going rate runs about $10,000 a year per turbine.  Barnett says he can’t water his land anymore so for some people, wind is a lifeline.

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The Indian Subcontinent Again Sets Record Temperatures

India Droiught

Record breaking temperatures and little rain.

“As the planet warms it can be expected that there will be more severe heat waves and they will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places.”

Dr. John Hidore

July 22, 2016—Global warming is occurring over the entire planet and record high temperatures have become common. The Indian subcontinent is no exception. Early written history documents heat waves and droughts.While temperature records were not available prior to the late 19th century, written descriptions indicate the severity of some earlier events.

Drought and Famine in 1768-1770

In the mid-eighteenth century the people of India were largely subsistence farmers. It was primitive crop agriculture subject to the vagaries of the monsoon. The country was under the control of the British East India Company, which kept the farmers on the verge of starvation under the best of conditions. Because of the general poverty of the mass of the population, and the marginal food supply, only a small shortfall in rain produced scattered starvation.

India is a large country, and at the time only a ponderous transportation system existed. There was no means of moving large quantities of food, or of moving people to more productive areas. Therefore, when drought set in, the alternatives were few. The beginnings of a prolonged drought and massive famine began in India in the fall months of l768. Rainfall was below normal and the crops were poor in December. The summer monsoons did not produce the usual rain in l769 and again the crop yields were scanty. By April of l770, over 30 million people in West Bengal and Bihar were directly affected. Estimates of deaths ranged upward to l0 million. The deaths were due to a combination of starvation and disease. Smallpox became epidemic in association with the drought. The death toll was exacerbated by the flood of people that fled the countryside and moved into the cities looking for sustenance. There was little to be found.

Drought in India

Indian drought causes famine.

Drought and Famine in Asia, 1875-1879

It was just a little more than a century later that drought and famine struck India with even more lethal results. The atmospheric circulation began to shift as early as 1873 in central Asia. Summer monsoons weakened for a number of years. By August 1877 the Indian government was well aware that a major famine was in progress and was going to get worse. Since rainfall was low there was insufficient feed for livestock. Wells, ponds and streams dried up. The lack of feed and water resulted in extensive loss of animals. Rainfall was so low that there was no measurable summer crop harvested in many districts. Human mortality was high.

Following the poor summer harvest, dysentery, smallpox, and cholera flared up into epidemic proportions taking a heavy toll of the population. In Bombay Presidency (Providence), the excess mortality from the famine of 1876-1877 reached 800,000 lives over the normal death rate. The Famine Commission estimated that by the end of 1878 the loss of life in the Providence totaled 3.5 million.

Indian drought

Global warming raises temperatures around the world.

The Asian Heat Wave of 2015

In May 2015, a heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 48 degrees C (118.4 degrees F). Other high temperatures were:Allahabad 47.8 degrees C (118.0 degrees F) Delhi 45.5 degrees C (113.9 degrees F)Hyderabad 46 degrees C (115 degrees F) Jharsuguda 45.4 degrees C (113.7 degrees F).

In June 2015, 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. It was followed by several weeks of the most severe heat wave to strike 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 could not cope with the heat.

Indian drought

Millions effected by the drought

The Indian Heat Wave of 2016

India experienced even higher temperatures this year than in 2015. Temperatures were above normal most of the spring. Normally, the hottest months of the year are April, May, and June, before the summer monsoon rains begin. In May a severe heat wave alert was issued for several states. A severe heat wave is one in which temperatures of at least 117°F (47.2°C) occur. In the city of Philodi, in western India, unofficial temperatures reached 124°F (51°C). This is the highest temperature on record in India. Temperatures averaged above 104 degrees F (40°C) over large areas. Some urban high temperatures were New Delhi 47 °C (117 degrees F) Churu 50 °C (122 ºF)Philodi 51.°(124 degrees F).

The impact in India was immense. More than 300 million people have been been adversely affected. Crops failed or were below average in 13 states in the last growing season. Thousands of farmers abandoned their farms. In places the asphalt on the streets partially melted. At Bikaner, the streets were being sprinkled with water to reduce the heat. 17,000 villages had, or were facing water shortages. Several Indian states shut down schools to reduce risk to students. Heatstroke was a widespread problem and many deaths were reported across the region.

Fortunately, the government responded in a variety of ways to reduce the suffering and mortality. Forecasts for the summer monsoons are far above average precipitation. The first monsoon rains began in the south in the second week of June. Only time will tell if the monsoons will be enough to break the drought.

As the planet warms it can be expected that: (1) there will be more severe heat waves and they will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places. As cities grow larger in area and population, they will experience increasing heat waves. (2) new record high temperatures will be set across the planet.


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Our Rapidly Changing World

Climate Change and its effects

The effects of Climate Change is happening at a faster then previously recorded.

“There is Nothing Permanent Except Change”
Heraclitus , Circa 500 BC

What the outcome for the human population and other living species is not known. Certainly the decisions being made now will make a huge difference in what the planet is going to be like in coming years–and what the life of our descendants will be become.”

 

By Dr. John J. Hidore

June 7, 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 today, vary in form, size, duration and 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.
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.

Changes in Planet Earth

The initial atmosphere contained high concentrations of carbon dioxide and little oxygen. Eventually, the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen changed to what we now have, 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. There have been times when a large number of species became extinct due to some natural catastrophe. These times are often referred to as mass extinctions.

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 Growing Population

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 replacing the Neanderthals. 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 that number of 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.

Extinction of animals and plants.

The melting ice caps will limit the habitat of polar bears.

Extinction of Plants and Animals

Species of plants and animals are now becoming extinct at an extremely high rate. The rate of extinction is now perhaps as much as a thousand times greater than the rate prior to the origin of humans. 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. One example of how fast species can decline 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 of that –1/30. The primary reason for the drop in numbers is the tremendous application of herbicides to agricultural fields.The rapid drop in butterflies is just one of what is now considered the sixth mass extinction.

Among the major reasons for the high rate of extinction among other species is the changing climate. Temperatures around the world are increasing rapidly. Most of the United States has experienced rapid rise in temperatures in the last 30 years, with the northeastern states of Maine and Vermont warming the most. The arctic is now warmer than it has been in more than 44,000 years. The coldest temperatures ever recorded on the Antarctic Continent have occurred in the past five years.

The “Yet to be Determined” Outcome

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 needs to take place now. What the outcome for the human population and other living species is not known.

Certainly the decisions being made now will make a huge difference in what the planet is going to be like in coming years–and what the life of our descendants will be become.


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National Wealth and Human Poverty

The wealth of a nation can still mean poverty for its people.

Half of the world’s population live below the poverty level.

 

Much of the increase in national wealth goes to a very small portion of the population.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

The Wealth of a Country

April 20, 2014—-Bill Gates recently stated in his 2014 letter to the world that, “By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.” Later in his letter he refined the statement as follows, “Specifically, I mean that by 2035, almost no country will be as poor as any of the 35 countries that the World Bank classifies as low-income today even after adjusting for inflation.”

What Gates is referring to is the wealth of the country itself. National wealth is usually defined in terms of gross domestic product. Gross domestic product in technical terms is the officially recognized value of goods and services produced within a country in a year. For example, large countries with many resources have a high GDP such as China and the Unites States. Small countries with few resources have a small GDP. Indeed, the gap in wealth and income by country is decreasing.
Implicit in Mr. Gates forecast is that there will be almost no poor people left in 20 years. Personal wealth is very different from national wealth. The average wealth of the population is often expressed as the GDP per person. What the GDP per person doesn’t tell us: Much of the increase in national wealth goes to a very small portion of the population. It is the same in the developing countries as it is in the United States and Europe. Technology is replacing human labor worldwide resulting in increased unemployment and poverty. Nearly half the world’s people live in countries where the per capita GDP is less than $500 a year!

In 1950 the average income in the industrialized countries was 30 times that of the developing countries. By 2001 it was 90 times larger. Worldwide the number of people living below the poverty level increased from 1.2 billion in 1987 to over 1.7 billion in 2007. Estimates suggest the number living in poverty may reach two billion by 2015. It is a global situation in which the majority of people live in poverty while the few get richer and richer. So great is the discrepancy in wealth in the world that the assets of the three richest billionaires own more than the combined wealth of half a billion living in the poorest countries.

Unemployment and Underemployment

Most nations of Western Europe relieved the pressure on the land by making new industrial jobs available in the cities to which the surplus rural population moved. Developing countries have not been able to expand urban job opportunities rapidly enough to meet the demand. Unemployment combined with underemployment averages 40 to 60 percent in most of these poor countries, and during the next twenty years, the number of people entering the labor force will double.

However, there are disparities within developing countries as large as between the developed and developing countries. Indeed, the income gap is greatest within the poorest countries where leaders have often been those who have most strongly criticized the international disparities of income and consumption. Moreover, within these poor countries, the per capita income of the wealthiest one-fifth of the population is frequently 20 to 25 times that of the poorest fifth. This is especially true of the nations of Latin America, Africa, and Southwest Asia.

Population Growth of Developing Countries

The growing disparity is the result of a number of factors. One of these factors in the economic and hunger gap is the continued high rate of population growth in the developing countries. If the growth rate of the population is greater than the growth rate of the national wealth then the increased wealth of the nation is spread over an ever growing number of people. In this case the average wealth for each person goes down. In most African countries the growth rate of the population is greater than the growth rate of the national wealth.

Palm Oil: Converting from Subsistence Farming

Palm oil is used in many packaged foods and in cosmetics. Demand has skyrocketed. In recent years in response to demand trans-national corporations have been buying up agricultural landing in the tropical regions to grow the trees from which the oil comes. By 2012, some 140 million acres of land in Africa had been converted from subsistence farms and forest to oil palm plantations. Much of this land was taken from the farmers with minimal or no payment for the land. The corporations bought or leased from the government which claims it owns all the land. One company in Liberia leased more than 500,000 acres of land from the government. The primary investors were from Asia. Another company leases more than 750,000 acres in the same country. Bridgestone-Firestone operates a 200 square mile operation here as well. The impact of the resident population is horrific. Most of the resident population is left without their farm land and without payed employment. The government of Liberia acknowledges that an estimated 85% of the population is constantly hungry, if not malnourished. The same process is taking place in many countries in Africa. The taking of land from the resident population is occurring on other continents. It is well documented in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.

As Bill Gates suggests, most poor nations will see increases in their total wealth between now and 2035. However, the prospects for much of the population in the poor countries are not good. Most of the increase in national wealth will go to just a few people, many of whom are not even residents of the counties in which their companies operate. It should be clear that the income gap is contributing to global unrest and increased violence.

One can only conclude there will be more and more civil uprisings by ever large numbers of people as they protest the continual decrease in income and resources available to them. There will also be more and more migration of people looking for better opportunities.


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Turmoil in Today’s World

Annual population percent change in the world....

Annual population percent change in the world. Source: CIA World Factbook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By John J. Hidore

August 24, 2013–In the second decade of the 21st Century Earth’s human population is in turmoil. People the world over have taken to the streets to protest hunger, poverty, unemployment, and drastic environmental change.

Desperate people take desperate measures. Civil uprisings and terrorism are widespread over the earth. The people want change, the ruling establishment does not. The determination of the establishment to hang onto the status quo has led to widespread uprisings and the overthrow of governments. The uprisings result directly from growing poverty among the people. In Africa, Asia, and South America governments have fallen to these uprisings. The Fund for Peace maintains a list of nations that are in danger of failing. Some 21 countries in Africa are on the alert list of collapsing into failed states. Out of the 35 countries at highest risk, conditions worsened in 25 of them from 2012 to 2013. Some of the characteristics of these unstable areas are:
High population growth rates
Economic decline
Deterioration of public services
Breakdown of law and order
Growing inequality of wealth
Tribal conflicts
The United States has not escaped these problems. Many of these characteristics describe our country–but not to the extent as some other countries. America’s population is also in a major state of confusion. In 2007 the stock market began a drop that in 2009 collapsed nearly 50% of its earlier value. The housing market collapsed and bankruptcies were widespread. Jobs disappeared by the millions. The Occupy Wall Street event was just the beginning of a wave just starting to grow. There are national protests against racism, unemployment, and voting rights among others.
There are a number of processes now operating simultaneously in the global culture that are root causes for the uncertainty and chaos. They are:
1.An exploding population
2.Economic growth and unemployment
3.The rapid transfer of wealth upwards into the hands of a few
4.Global warming
5.Resource depletion
6.Individual and International debt

Human history covers some three million years and modern humans have inhabited the earth for the last 200,000 years. The global population has been growing throughout this time. People have faced many of these problems in the past as the population has grown. However, all of these processes are problems at this particular moment in time. If we translate the three million years of human existence into a day, these events have become widespread in less than the last second of human history. What is unique is they are taking place at the same time on a global scale. Not only are they taking place at the same time, but the speed of these processes is increasing faster and faster. The rate of change in some cases is so rapid it is difficult to forecast their future status more than a few months or a decade or two.
If these trends continue, the results include, but are not limited to the following:
There will be more and more crowding
There will be more and more uprisings by large numbers of people as they protest the continual decrease in quality of life.
There will be more and larger migrations of people in search of better opportunities.
There will be more and more environmental problems of all kinds.
Global climate change will result in greater stress for most living species.

How long these trends will continue is unknown. However, they will continue because at present there is little will to change.