(This letter has been submitted to the Chapel Hill News. We publish it here today to acknowledge Earth Day.)
Humankind inhabits a tiny celestial orb that is miraculously set among of sea of stars. As far as we know, life as we know it exists nowhere else in the Universe. In the light of these circumstances, perhaps we of the human family have the responsibility of assuring the security for the future of life in our planetary home.
April 22nd is Earth Day. Our many Earth Day celebrations focus attention on the pressing need for human beings to protect and preserve the finite resources of Earth and its frangible ecosystems. If we fail to achieve this goal, then an unimaginably bleak future awaits our children.
If 6+ billion human beings live on Earth now and 9+ billion are expected to populate our small planet by 2050, then we simply cannot keep doing what we are doing now because the Earth has limited resources upon which all forms of life and human constructions like national economies utterly depend for existence. Without adequate resources and ecosystem system services of Earth, life as we know it and human institutions would collapse.
Now, some portion of the world’s human population conspicuously over-consumes the resources of our planetary home. Other people, in charge of huge multinational conglomerations, are doing business in a way that recklessly dissipates natural resources at a rate that these resources cannot be restored for human benefit. Still others in the human family are overpopulating the planet. The leviathan-like scale and rapid growth of global human consumption, production and propagation activities are putting the Earth, life as we know it, and the human community in grave, clear and present danger.
Since Chapel Hillians live in the overdeveloped world, we are among the people who are ravenously over-consuming Earth’s resources. We could choose to consume less. People in the developing could choose to limit overproduction of unnecessary things and contain industrial pollution. People in the underdeveloped world could limit their number of offspring. Perhaps these are ways the family of humanity begins to respond ably to the human-induced global challenges that loom so ominously before humanity in our time.
Steven Earl Salmony