You are here

In Search Of A Visual Metaphor For Overshoot: The Sinking Lifeboat Still Makes The Point Best

Overpopulation conjures up many images. Most typically, one thinks of traffic gridlock or bulldozers ripping up forests or farmland to make way for more housing developments. But these images fail to impress the green wing of the Growth-Management Industry, the so-called "environmentalists" of the "progressive" coalition of feminists, eco-socialists, soft-greens and human rights advocates. For them there are always "solutions" that obviate the need to face the elephant in the room. Public transport, smart growth, green technology and good green living habits will do the trick. The trouble is, they won't. It is all a delusion. Numbers matter--the social justice agenda cannot defeat the laws of physics. And the best metaphor to make that point remains Garrett Hardin's sinking lifeboat.

Bulldozers or Traffic Jams---What Better Symbolizes Runaway Population Growth?

After the website for Immigration Watch Canada was recently re-designed, I was asked if I could think of a more appropriate image to adorn its mast ---a more plaintiff illustration of the negative ecological consequences of mass immigration to Canada. Initially, I was persuaded that a picture of ten lanes of gridlocked traffic leading out of Toronto would make our point quite eloquently. But then I faltered. On second thought, I said, a picture of a new housing development being constructed on farmland would prove more poignant. I added that given the impact of hyper-immigration, the bulldozer should replace the beaver and the maple leaf as our national symbols. But then, once again, I had second thoughts. Why?

The Soft Green Party Line

For as predictable as frost in winter, Fem-Green-Left environmentalists can be counted upon to reflexively retort with their standard objection. It goes something like this:"Gridlock is not a function of overpopulation but wrong-headed transportation policy. With disincentives for driving cars and extensive public transit in place, we could move people efficiently and economically without environmental impacts. And urban sprawl is not a function of overpopulation either. With strict land-use policy, we could house people within compact urban growth boundaries and preserve greenfield acreage. In both cases, our per capita energy consumption could be dramatically reduced. There is unexploited brownfield acreage in our cities that could be the site of energy-efficient low-rise infill housing that would reduce commuting by placing people close to their workplaces."

Betsy Hartmann A Leading Exponent of Population-Denialism

None better regurgitate this party-line more quintessentially than the Queen of Smear, Betsy Hartmann of Hampshire College, author of the infamous "Greening of Hate", which attempted to discredit the ecological case against mass immigration by accusing those who make it of fronting for a sinister racist, nativist and xenophobic agenda. She showcased this fallacious reasoning in her attack on Chris Hedges for arguing that we are "breeding ourselves to extinction." ("Rebuttal to Chris Hedges-- Stop the Tired Overpopulation Hysteria", Alternet March 14/2009)

"The population controllers also have blinders on their eyes when they attribute the cutting down of forests, the polluting of water supplies, and the extinction of species to too many poor people, rather than the unchecked power of large corporations to monopolize resources and ravage the land. Missing from the picture is the question of technological choice: for example, reducing the population of automobiles and investing in public transport worldwide would do much more to curtail climate change than imposing limits on family size."

Again resorting to standard green-left script, Hartmann cited the United States as the worst offender of industrialized countries who, with only 20% of the world's population, have contributed 80% of the carbon dioxide that has accumulated in the atmosphere. Instead of recognizing that as a good argument for curbing immigration and reproduction in America, she proposed that Malthusian environmentalists drop their apocalyptic act and "get down to the gritty green work of making effective and equitable environment and climate policy." By “histrionic fear-mongering” that “pointed the finger at population growth”, Malthusians would have us "alienate the Global South" and "shirk" our responsibility to find practical solutions like carbon capping, energy-saving retrofitting of existing buildings, investing in alternative energy, public transport and lifestyle changes.

Climate-Change Obsession Serves The Globalist Vision

It must be understood that for this generation and genre of “environmentalism”, atmospheric pollution is the only metric of environmental degradation that deserves much attention. The virtue of climate-change obsession is that in its call for “global” solutions that must demand “global cooperation”, the open-borders mentality finds its most convenient friend. The impertinent demand of “nativists” to protect their nation’s environment from unfettered trans-national migration can then be framed as the wrong-headed belief that the environment can be “nationalized”. Gone is the foundational injunction of environmentalism to “act locally”. Passion for what is closest to hearth and home is alien to the rootless cosmopolitan greens, who see such attachment as a parochial bond that succours a “fortress” mentality. We have no right to a “national” culture or a national environment. Thus the corporate agenda finds cover in the Trojan Horse of Green Globalism--- the world without borders they both seek.

Reducing Per Capita Consumption And Waste To What End?

This "tired" soft-green cant provokes the obvious questions. Questions like "What good would come from 'alternative energy and public transport' and 'energy-saving retrofitting of existing buildings' if there are more people consuming resources and more buildings being built than ever before due to population growth? What if you succeeded in getting everyone out their cars and into public transit while population growth continues, would not the amount of resource consumption and pollution still increase? Even if you could cut per capita consumption in half---which would be a death sentence for a great majority of people in the world and bring severe destitution to most citizens even in the developed world---what net benefit would accrue if the population doubled? Should we forfeit a sustainable future for the sake of not alienating the corrupt leaders of the "Global South"? If our very survival as a species is contingent on aggressive family planning measures in developing countries and the cessation of mass migration of the global poor to the industrialized north, should we defer to etiquette and the diplomacy of silence? If was a firefighter who saw smoke coming out of your attic, should I avoid pounding on your door or bursting in to loudly demand your evacuation for fear of alienating you? And how do you think I would feel about an environmentalist who smelled the smoke but preferred to "get down to the gritty green work" of polishing the wood furniture, admonishing me for "histrionic fear-mongering" and “shirking” my responsibility to look for effective solutions?

Elementary Physics Obviously Not A Course Requirement At Social Justice University

Showing pictures of gridlock and urban sprawl to the snake-oil salesmen of green delusions will not register because they are congenitally incapable of understanding the physics of bailing water out of a leaky boat. It is quite simple. If you don't bail out a volume of water equivalent to the volume of water that is pouring into your vessel, you are going to go for a swim, and then you are going to regret that you welcomed so many passengers on board, and that you accused those who had warned against your reckless hospitality of racism, nativism and xenophobia.

Overloading a lifeboat to satisfy the dictates of an ideologically fashioned concept of social or "environmental justice" is not only perverse and suicidal, it supremely arrogant. For there is no greater testament to human hubris and conceit than the assertion that a moral law of our making trumps a law of biophysics and the species-imperative to survive. Hartmann and the “progressive” coalition of feminists, “eco-Marxists” and soft-green growth-managers consistently fail to understand that there can be no equality, justice, reproductive or human 'rights' in world without humans.

Perhaps then, the best image to illustrate this stark truth is not a traffic jam or a shiny new subdivision atop farm acreage, but an overturned lifeboat surrounded by passengers floating face-down. The lifeboat can be Canada or the United States or any one of a hundred nations. Or it can be Planet Earth, capsized when too many passengers shifted to the more affluent starboard side to find the “justice” which Betsy Hartmann and the ideologues of delusional egalitarianism claimed was their due. It is called “slosh dynamics” and it involves a concept referred to as “the centre of gravity”, but that is another one of those laws of physics that they obviously don’t teach in Political Correctness 101, Womens’ Studies or at Hampshire College.

Tim Murray
November 19, 2010

AttachmentSize
Image icon sinking-lifeboat2.JPG8.11 KB

Comments

According to a report in The Weekly Times , Victorian horticulture is being swallowed by the urban sprawl and the results could be devastating.
The ABS reports that peri-urban areas occupy less than 3 per cent of agricultural land they account for more than 25 per cent of the gross value of agriculture production.
Broadacre farming is being given higher priority while horticulture farmers - market gardeners - are being driven from their properties by zoning changes and the soaring value of land.
This may have brought a financial windfall for many of them, despite the GAIC tax, it means that houses are being built over fertile food-production land.
Vegetable Victoria President Luis Gazzola said Victoria would lose its vegetable production industry, and that this would happen unless land with A-class water and a buffer zone was set for the next 100 years. The growth-pushers with so much financial power in our State government are not likely to be interested in our food security, but profits.
To hell with vegetables for the next generations!
According to the Year Book Australia, 2009-10 ABS:
Global population growth of one per cent per year, increased consumption and the diversion of food crops for biofuel production and for intensive feeding of livestock, have all increased the total global demand for food, resulting in food shortages in particular countries.
According to the United Nations, there are currently close to one billion malnourished people globally. Changes in climatic conditions, soil degradation, scarcity of arable land, a decline in the standard of rural infrastructure and use of outdated agricultural practices have affected the global community’s capacity to respond.
The Australian Greenhouse Office's Guide to Climate Science and Impacts records the following consequences of climate change:
* a decrease in available water resources;
* higher temperatures and hence evaporation;
* increased heat stress of livestock causing reduced weight and milk yields;
* reduction in chilling cultivars, viticulture (vineyard yield);
* damage of crops from extreme weather, increased pests and disease outbreaks;
* a reduction of area of arable land from the 'dustbowl effect" and;
* a reduction in crop yield and quality.
Australia has about 6% arable land depending on source of the information, which is less then the size of France (total area).
Australia’s soils and seas are among the most nutrient-poor and unproductive in the world. Only around 6 per cent of the Australian landmass is considered arable – one of the lowest proportions of any country in the world. Australia in Brief: A unique environment
The Committee of Melbourne simply gloss over the crisis:

Although our water resources are stretched and we will need to continue effective management of arable land, here in Melbourne and Australia we are well positioned to service many of these global needs over coming decades.

"Effective management" won't supplement what Nature fails to provide due to concrete!
The eco-suicidal attempt of our governments to maximize our population and at the same time destroy the vessel that is supporting our existence - our ecological systems - is evidence of corruption and a trade-off of long term survival over short term profits, and votes!

Foodbowl Unlimited, (see "Orwellian Waterworks: big-agribusiness and Victorian Gov") which has Victorian State Government backing - financial and legal - is probably a beneficiary of this policy on which Bandicoot so rightly sounds the alarm. Look at the people involved.

Sadly it seems that what is happening in Australia is truly the result of having a mixture of sociopaths, incompetents and cowards in charge, in all three mainstream parties, with rare exceptions (such as Kelvin Thomson).

I look at my local member of parliament, Alistair Harkness, for instance, and wonder what he is doing to save us from the loss of agricultural land or anything else. Only seems to be ignoring the problems and supporting the bad government policies.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist

How many of the desperate poor which the Green Left love are let into Australia? Very few. The great majority of the new arrivals are solidly middle or upper class and relatively well to do. They help drive the continuous building boom which the Australian economy has become wholly dependent on. If the population stabilizes, then who would buy all these new houses and businesses? The bottom would drop out of the property speculation and construction industries.

The Green Left greenwashes this unsustainable, greed driven mass immigration. People will not voluntarily limit their consumption. The more people, the more environmental damage they will do. That is the reality, not the fantasies peddled by the Green Left about people voluntarily sacrificing their lifestyle and comfort so ever more people can be crammed in while at the same time preserving the environment.

LONDON: White Britons would be 'a minority' in their own country by 2066 if immigration continues at the current rate, according to research. If immigration stays at its long-term rate of around 180,000 a year, the white British-born population would decline from the current total of 80 per cent to just 59 per cent in 2051, analysis of figures from the Office of National Statistics shows.

If the trend continued, the white British population, defined as English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish-born citizens, would become the minority after about 2066, the paper said.

Andy Green was appointed CEO of Logica in 2008 after spending 21 years at BT. He was recently ranked in the top 50 most influential people in IT.

Andy Green, said "I'm not really that bothered about climate change," he shrugged. Population growth is such - just over six billion now and projected to grow to nine billion by 2050 - that, Mr Green tells us: "Humans are a plague, and the track record of plagues is not good".

The government has been accused of allowing Indian IT companies to bring in cheap labour through intra-company transfers, shutting UK graduates out of the jobs market.

The majority of skilled workers entering the UK from outside the European Economic Area come in on intra-company transfers. In 2009, they accounted for 22,000 out of a total of 36,490 skilled migrants.

Loss of biodiversity and destruction of fragile ecosystems are being felt across the world already. Ecosystems provide supporting services like nutrient cycling, oxygen production and soil formation. All these are vital if we are to feed our growing population without further degrading our environment.

At the moment invasive non-native species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity in the UK after climate change.

"Sustainability will be the defining issue of our generation," said Green. "And it’s business’s problem, not the Government’s. Sustainability needs to be a board room issue for all businesses."

Bill Gates told an audience at a Washington health summit that there is no such thing as a healthy, high-population growth country. “If you’re healthy, you’re low-population growth,” he said.

The government has vowed to slash the level of net immigration after a decade of open borders under Labour. The cap on migrant numbers from outside Europe comes into effect next year. The immigration cap - which was a key part of the Conservatives' election manifesto - is aimed at cutting net immigration from its current level of 196,000 a year to "tens of thousands". A temporary cap of 24,100 will be replaced by permanent measures from April 2011.