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Related posts on EcoHustler:
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it… (Genesis 1:28)
Dear patriarchal, monotheistic Deity,
thanks for the good advice. We have dutifully followed these instructions. What next?
The People of Earth
Today the human population is rapidly approaching 7 billion, growing by around 80 million a year. That’s 1.5 million every week or 10,000 every hour. The human ecological footprint (impact upon nature) is the total number of people multiplied by average per capita level of consumption. Both total population and average consumption are increasing which is why we have an environmental crisis. Humanity is consuming the living fabric of our planet faster than it can regenerate and thus extinction is increasingly likely (for us and many other species).
There is a pervasive and dangerous taboo which prevents an honest, open and pragmatic debate about reducing the total human population. There seems to be an assumption that because human life is sacred and reproduction a fundamental right, we should all just keep reproducing as if the planet was still a giant unexplored wilderness and resource constraints inconceivable. Sadly, this era is long gone. If human life is sacred, shouldn’t we work to keep it in existence for as long as possible? Over population is a short cut to extinction, as David Attenborough says “All environmental problems become harder — and ultimately impossible — to solve with ever more people.”
Limiting human fertility also offends because it may discriminately affect the underprivileged but there are multiple ways to reduce human population in a progressive way that actually helps to redistribute wealth more fairly. The greatest mistake we can make is to ignore the population time bomb, for whatever reason.
Population growth is highest in developing countries. The two proven, most effective ways of slowing this growth is (1.) to reduce infant mortality and (2.) to educate woman for longer. Both of these should be given top priority anyway, irrespective of the importance for the global ecosystem. Governments must join up their environmental and developmental strategies and, urgently, invest far more to achieve these aims.
The aspiration in many developing countries is to have lifestyles like people in the West, for example, car ownership in China has ‘exploded’. However, this is impossible. It is not just that the developing world cannot consume like us in the West. We in the West cannot continue to consume as we do, resources are running out.
Current global rates of consumption are said to be unsustainable and with population and consumption both increasing the only way we can become sustainable is by reducing consumption combined with reducing population. Developed countries must contract consumption to converge on a sustainable and fair global average.
Some Western countries with static populations like Spain and Italy have set up funds to boost fecundity. Spain now offers a 2,500 euro bonus for every baby born. Of course, from a global perspective this policy is diametrically opposed to sustainability. Countries faced with the fiscal problems associated with static growth and an ageing population can make their borders porous and accept the flow of immigrants coming from more crowded countries rather than incentivising additional populaion growth.
At a time of global ecological collapse the notion of the nation-state isn’t just anachronistic, it is dangerous and retarded. We cannot shift to sustainability and survive without taking a global, scientific view-point on resource use and climate change, so, with this planetary perspective in mind, lets respond as one species without borders.
Project Prevention is a US charity that has caused an uproar by paying (bribing) drug addicts to become sterilized so that they cannot bring a child into the world that is born to suffer. Should this concept be extended? Why not set up a global fund to pay anyone who will voluntarily take the money: a fee to be sterilized?
The reason this plan would be unpalatable is because within the unfair global economic system the poor will more likely take up this offer of cash, but is the world any fairer, or better, where half a million poor women die every year in child-birth and millions of children die from malnourishment? At least paying volunteers to be sterilized will help to redistribute wealth and alleviate suffering.
Why don’t we do this in the UK too? Currently the government pays increasing child care support with each extra baby, an ill-advised incentive to increase the population further. Why don’t we shift things around so that if you have had two children the government will pay you a one-off lump sum to get sterilized. This reduces population and increases the quality of life of those remaining.
Thousands of years ago when the Old Testament was being put together, the human population was a minute fraction of what it is today. In that era, the guidelines for human success were to procreate and claim land. Today, the game has changed. Go forth and multiply are instructions for a long gone era. It is time for new planetary guidelines for our species. Crucially, these plans, policies and ideas must reduce the total human population, reduce per capita consumption whilst creating a fairer and happier world so how about:
By being the only political party that backs a 3rd runway at Heathrow Labour stands out with a special kind of stupid. The rational for inflicting this fresh monstrous wound on our once green and pleasant land is ‘the economy’. Yet again, our politicians, the flabby-faced fluffers of industry, are uttering monotonously, like the grinding of skulls, the vile mantra: ‘must grow the economy, must grow the economy…’
Edward Abbey pointed out many years ago that ‘growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell’. Of course he was right. It is also the ideology of viruses, the morbidly obese and New Labour. All require health warnings.
It is time for the political classes to catch up with the rest of humanity. They should stick on the wall a scribbled note to remind them ‘it’s not just the economy stupid!’ Of course we can grow the economy by strengthening our position as the bus depot of Europe. We could also grow the economy by being the depository for all the worlds’ nuclear waste. However, unless you like your children with 6 eyes and tentacles the nuclear waste option hasn’t got any (workable) legs. The benefits of growing the economy depend on how you are growing the economy.
Smug idiots like Richard Branson say that if we don’t have a 3rd runway we will lose out to another country that will become Europe’s airline hub. But for everyone in the UK who doesn’t own an airline this is a good thing. London already suffers from appalling air quality and mind jangling noise pollution in part as a result of the proximity of the world’s busiest airport. We would have to be collectively madder (or sicker) than whoever appointed Blair as a ‘middle east peace envoy’ to want to increase this traffic.
If you were going to choose a country to be the air hub for Europe you might be inclined to pick a country that has some space left. It may have escaped the attention of the frothy mouthed politicians who feverishly court the business elite that we live on a tiny overcrowded island. Once completely forested we have now removed 90% of the forest cover and have built on 14% of the once wild land. You are hard pressed to get anywhere where you can’t see a road or hear a machine.
We don’t have to sit back and let politicians lead us inexorably towards the industrial dystopias of films like Blade Runner or the Terminator. As 90% of Britains agree this is not the time to be bulldozing villages and laying new runways. If you want to build, do it on brown field sites and build upwards. The appalling sprawl into nature must be stopped, and then reversed.
The quixotic, desperate clammer for never ending economic growth on a small island on a shrinking planet is sad in the same way that anti-aging cosmetic surgery is sad. We have to get old so why not do it with dignity. Instead of running around like a 20 year old trying to get laid all the time why not start a vegetable patch and listen to Terry Wogan? So too our economies must mature. A relentless pioneer economy will scorch the earth and leave us more high and dry then the Easter Islanders were before they finally starved to death. Did the last citizen have a flash of insight into the stupidity of their idol worship as the final tear of drool rolled out of his famished mouth?
What will it take politicians to realize that our future will not resemble our past? Our economies must change and evolve to reflect the fact that population continues to soar and resources are increasingly constrained. The government should support this by diversifying and future-proofing our economies. This can be done by backing efficient green technologies, resilient agriculture, urban (eco) redevelopment, science and education, youth programs and the creative arts. If you want to know how to fund this you can start with taxing aviation fuel and the banks and then scrapping Trident. Unregulated markets, like war, are sooo last century. It’s time for the power hungry brown-nosers in Westminster to get with the program.
The mile high club is for irresponsible yuppies. The cool kids are getting down and dirty 45m below sea level. A secret and fruity underground society has been spicing up European travel with sexy visits to the water closet while hurtling under the channel tunnel. Is our fast track to the world’s most romantic city fast becoming a giant Tunnel of Love?
The era of mass short haul air travel is coming to an end. Even if it were not for climate change the level of security has now made moving through airports almost as bad as a visit to Dubai. You have to give it a wide berth! Anyway, for us in the UK there really is no need to fly apart from the occasional long haul (if it is highly important).
The Channel Tunnel has opened up the whole of Europe to the British low carbon traveller. Within a day you can reach the slopes of the Alps, the beaches of the Mediterranean and all the other sweet things continental Europe has to offer. For the more adventurous a ferry from Marseille opens up North Africa.
People assume that flying will be quicker but actually the door-to-do time can be similar for trips to the Alps and the Med but the time is far better spent on a train. Reading a book, with the world rushing by outside the window is pure bliss. There is far more leg room and opportunities to stretch. The air is clean and at boarding there is far less standing around like a dejected farm animal awaiting castration.
Now that the UK’s young, aspirational intelligensia are making use of the Eurostar for romantic breaks to Paris (or further afield) it was only a matter of time before a select new club would form. You’ve done it in a plane, you’ve done it in the back of a church, you’ve done it at your Gran’s… now it’s time to do it hurtling at 200mph through the channel tunnel 45 metres below sea level.
EcoHustler is diligent about staying ahead of the curve and maintaining thorough research so that all information on this site is cutting edge and absolutely verifiable. We had to know if this mysterious club existed; what membership really entailed and any other grizzly details that could be uncovered. Return tickets to the not-so-gay Paris were purchased. A couple of nights booked in a sweet little hotel in Montmartre overlooking the red light district. Then I simply had to call on my trusty side kick, the beautiful and daring Ms A. Minx to come along for the ride.
It wasn’t until the yawning cavern of the Channel Tunnel approached that I began to explain the true nature of the mission to Ms A. Minx. She was stunned to learn of the 45 m underground club and shared my desire to find out more. I proposed an undercover research mission. Did she consent? Your damn right she did! The EcoHustler is now a member of both the mile high club and the 45 m underground club and I can tell you which one I am more proud of joining.
Occasionally life can get monotonous and we need thrills, spills and vacations. As Eurostar and this fruity little club are clearly revealing you can now get what your heart desires for a minimum carbon footprint. So the next time you need a romantic break head to Paris and join the 45 m undergrouns club. Any members are welcome to post word of their adventures below.
Here are some useful low carbon travel options:
How to travel by train or ship: Maybe you don’t like flying, or are concerned about air travel’s contribution to global warming. Or perhaps you just prefer real travel by train or ship, where the journey is part of the adventure… Either way, The Man in Seat Sixty-One will tell you how to travel overland comfortably & affordably where you might think that air was now the only option.
Eurostar: Join the 45 m Underground Club!
Lift Share: Find someone travelling your way so you can share your journey – saving money, cutting your carbon footprint and having fun!