(Following Steve’s July letter to the editor of the Chapel Hill News another newspaper reader replied. The reader offered some objections that have become familiar to those of us who have been working for some time toward sustainable population and culture. Steve’s follow-up reply was published in the Chapel Hill News, 9 September 2008.)
My father was in the business of manufacturing textiles. A tapestry is the centerpiece of our family’s living room. Jane Ballard’s Sampler hangs on the far wall. From an early age I learned to behold the beauty found in woven, ornamental fabrics and knitted cloth. But of all the tapestries and “samplers” I have ever seen there is nothing so beautiful, good or true as the tapestry of life to which Brian Lawe refers in his Aug. 3 letter. Each new life adds to tapestry. Mr. Lawe is due thanks.
Perhaps my perspective of the biophysical world we inhabit as relatively small, evidently finite and noticeably frangible is mistaken. That may be so. It would please me so if it turns out that my observations are shown to be fatally flawed and Brian’s perceptions of what is somehow real are altogether proven to be the correct ones. That will be just fine.
Because something is happening that continues to worry me and occasionally to awaken me in the middle of the night, I find myself sending dozens of letters to editors, hundreds of missives into the blogosphere and thousands of e-mails into cyberspace. Always the theme is the same. It is simply this: Earth’s body is finite, its resources are limited, and its ecosystem services capable of irreversible degradation by the huge scale and anticipated growth of human over-consumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, the ones we see rampantly overspreading the surface of our planetary home in our time. Earth does not resemble a mother’s teat at which the human species may forever suckle. Despite the assurances of many economists and politicians, Earth is not a cornucopia. No possible way.
The unbridled growth of the human species presents a colossal challenge to the family of humanity. The Earth as a constant, seemingly endless provider of whatsoever human beings desire is a fantasy … a widely shared, consensually validated, distinctly human product of wishful and magical thinking.
Steven Earl Salmony