As I write I am thinking of one of my first in-depth population studies — I chose to study lemmings — when I was studying ecology in one of the state universities responsible for instigating the Green Revolution (a big ten Michigan school) around 1972 when Limits to Growth came out, and, given what I was discovering in my studies, and given that some of the big names responsible then for the Green Revolution were coming to our classes, giving guest lectures, telling us the Green Revolution had already been wiped out then, I took the lessons to heart. The various computer modeled predictions then were somewhat grim, but among the warnings was one scenario suggesting that if civilization started then, it could save itself the worst of the collapse calamities, even create a decent and sustainably stable human world on this planet before the worst case scenario came inevitably about.
It appeared, for a few years at least, and nearly all the way through the Carter Administration, that the rest of the nation was heeding the warnings as well. Public schools were quickly instituting environmental education programs to begin developing a crop of aware citizens who could pitch in intelligently to deal with the real threat the Limits to Growth computer modelings projected.
Then along came the corporate backlash to big bad government regulations along with a coordinated backlash against the influential bad seed of liberal public education programs, and we the people got their front man, the now “heroic” presidential figure, Ronald Reagan, and with his smiling face came a systematic propaganda program instigated through corporate owned media (otherwise known with true Orwellian flair as “liberal” media) that puts Wilson’s Creel Committee, perhaps even Goebbel’s work in bringing frenzy to Nazi Germany, at the primary school level of propaganda.
Shrink government — as a regulating force at least, maybe not the military, no not that — take the chains off those Sampsons, our free market entrepreneurial business heroes, and let them make America wealthy (again, as if America hadn’t just gone through its most extensive height of overall wealth achievement in its history following WWII). That was the corporate cry to renewed patriotic glory that their front man espoused. And enough of the masses loved it.
So we are suffering its legacy today, though everyone is so confused we can no longer explain in simple terms what lies at the source of that suffering. Hoards of conservative minions, once middle class workers, many once union workers and democrats, are now programmed to despise anything liberal, which, it turns out, includes anything democratic, which most now think of as socialism. And, of course, environmentalism was carefully crafted early on — thanks to the threat of the newly devised and signed into law by Nixon EPA — to be a liberal, even democratic idea. So if you are a conservative minion, you’ve been programmed through Rush Limbaugh, et al, to automatically reject anything environmental.
It might have just been another round of relatively harmless and humorous human folly that historians could look back upon with some laughs, except for the actual devastating effect it’s had and continues to exponentially have on the very basis of life on our mutually shared and fragile layer of living biosphere of this lonely living planet floating in an otherwise starkly cold and biologically uninviting universe.
Since then, both Democrat and Republican politicians, spear headed by either party’s Chief Executive in the Oval Office, have gone back to the economic addiction of human progress as an infinite growth global economy model, along with a general attitude of screw the environment as anything other than merely humanity’s God given resource gift and handy garbage dump. No one can hope to be elected to the presidency in 2012 without having some plan to grow the economy, to mine more resources (and, ahem, destroy more of the environment through fracking, tapping oil under the Arctic Ocean as the ice recedes, and squeezing oil from shale) whether it’s by the Keynesian style or the Austrian free market theories.
Unfortunately that forty-some year old computer program that predicted a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human population in the 21st Century appears to be dead on target. Not so much theory, like economics, but fact. Researchers at MIT have again revisited the program, updated the data, guaged the tragectory predicted, and now they think we may already be running in midair air, just like Wiley E. Coyote when he runs off a cliff chasing the Road Runner. We are about to drop.
No, the following article does not come from one of those supermarket check out stand rags that tell you about the latest UFO findings, nor is it one of the latest conspiracy theories from prisonplanet.com. It comes from Scientific American.
Dennis Meadows, professor emeritus of systems policy at the University of New Hampshire who headed the original M.I.T. team and revisited World3 in 1994 and 2004, has an even darker view. The 1970s program had yielded a variety of scenarios, in some of which humanity manages to control production and population to live within planetary limits (described as Limits to Growth). Meadows contends that the model’s sustainable pathways are no longer within reach because humanity has failed to act accordingly.
Instead, the latest global data are tracking one of the most alarming scenarios, in which these variables increase steadily to reach a peak and then suddenly drop in a process called collapse. In fact, “I see collapse happening already,” he says. “Food per capita is going down, energy is becoming more scarce, groundwater is being depleted.” Most worrisome, Randers notes, greenhouse gases are being emitted twice as fast as oceans and forests can absorb them. Whereas in 1972 humans were using 85 percent of the regenerative capacity of the biosphere to support economic activities such as growing food, producing goods and assimilating pollutants, the figure is now at 150 percent—and growing.