Thursday, September 20, 2007

9th Grade Science Lab Epiphany

Not to rain on anyone's parade after the recent Bush referendum, but there's a threat looming on the not to distant horizon that scares the dog pee-pee out of me. It's not anthropogenic warming, peak oil, or even Armageddon. One day in 9th grade biology, my class was studying bacteria cultures where I placed three spots of bacteria in a nutrient rich petri dish. I observed the colonies bloom after what initially seemed like not much happening. Before I knew it, the entire dish was filled edge to middle with the little critters. Then all of a sudden the entire colony died. It wasn't lack of food, they had more than they could hope to eat. What killed them was each other through the antigens they produced themselves! Extinction due to overcrowding. Even though I was only a 15 year-old, I got what the implications were. We humans are no different than bacteria as far as population in a confined space is. When I was in that class, in 1975,  the world population was about 4 billion. It's now 6.5 billion! My question is this: How long can humanity survive in this proverbial petri dish we call Earth before we destroy each other just like the bacteria in that science experiment? I've come to the conclusion that overpopulatoion is the root cause of the problems we are to face in the future. Anthropogenic warming, peak oil, religious extremism, pandemics, are all just symptoms of the geatest threat to humanity since GeeDuhbya. We've been warned many times by those evil scinetists that this was coming. Unfortunately, our elected officials only think as far ahead as the next election. Unless that process changes, nature will take its course and correct the situation for us. Nature doesn't really care what we do or believe.



"Which is the greater danger - nuclear warfare or the population explosion? The latter absolutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to DO something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally - and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing."
--Dr. Isaac Asimov, biochemist and science writer (in this 1966 interview he predicted that world population would reach 6 billion around 2000. Most leaders dismissed his prediction as outrageous. Population passed 6 billion in 1999.)


Once again a contribution from Dave:

A few months ago I attended a presentation by a retired petroleum geologist of considerable ability and even greater ego. He is now a consulting geologist to two of our area Groundwater Conservations Districts. His presentation dealt with the incredibly complex and varied geology and, importantly, hydrology down here on the Edwards Plateau. To draw attention to the impact of homo sapiens on the water resources, he opened with a graph depicting said population over the species existence. The line was almost flat until a point on the far right of the graph when it suddenly went all most vertical. He then asked, "Does anyone know what year that is", as he pointed to the "knee" of that curve? "1859, the year oil was discovered in Pennsylvania."

He then said he did not expect that the projections of 14 billion people by 21xx wouold ever occur, "we'll blow ourselves up first." He concluded the presentation with a Hubbert's Peak graph of global oil production. "$8.00 a gallon in my life time", said the mid-late 60s scientist.

dave




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