Life as we know it being put at risk

(This letter was published in the Chapel Hill News, 22 March 2008.)

The chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change was in Raleigh last month to speak at the Emerging Issues Forum and to receive a six-figure award for his distinguished service.

My good fortune was to join the panel chairman, Rajendra K. Pachauri, and others for a reception-luncheon in his honor on Feb. 11 at N.C. State University. Here is what I learned from this great man.

The family of humanity appears not to have much time in which to make necessary changes in its conspicuous over-consumption lifestyles, in the unsustainable overproduction practices of its big-business enterprises, and its overpopulation activities. Humankind may not be able to protect life as we know it and preserve the integrity of Earth much longer.

If we project the anticipated growth of unbridled per-capita consumption, rampantly expanding economic globalization, and 70 million to 75 million newborns annually, then human civilization and life as we know could be put at risk soon.

According to my admittedly simple estimations, if humankind keeps doing just as it is doing now, without doing whatsoever is necessary to begin modifying the business-as-usual course of our gigantic global political economy, Earth could sustain life as we know it for a relatively short period of time.

Unfortunately, top rank scientists have not found adequate ways of communicating to humanity what people somehow need to hear, see and understand: the dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the destruction of Earth’s body as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, appear to be proceeding toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some sort unless, of course, the world’s colossal, ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global economy continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic ‘wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point the runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

Steven Earl Salmony
Chapel Hill

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