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Feeding 9 Billion | National Geographic

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“Picture of [a] pig farm in Mato Grosso, Brazil, with sows confined …” [Presumably, they can’t stand, nor move.  Stuck in one position, they are forced to lie on one side to nurse after being artificially inseminated. They do so day after day, week after week and month after month despite the discomfort of being heavy in weight and forced to retain one single position for so long. Then they are either used to breed a new set of piglets, which will be used the same way in the future if females or brought to the slaughterhouse, as are the males of their offspring except for the few that look like top breeders for desired traits, that will be milked for sperm. … Are these creatures considered intelligent animals – animals as smart as dogs? No, they are simply commodities to make ever higher profits. … Do you imagine that the farm workers are paid fairly for their hard work or do you imagine the farm owners garnering the brunt of the earnings regardless of whatever they may or may not do work-wise to support the farm from which lavish wealth can be gained for them? … This is my understanding, wholly correct or not, when I see such a photo as this one. – S. D.]

First off, the human population is already over 7.5 billion people and rapidly rising so as to likely become 11-15.8 billion by century’s end, according to UN population assessments. Yet should we use more land for crops and animal factory farms to subsume the additional number of humans? Shouldn’t we leave the rest to support other species, which are right now in the beginning of the sixth great extinction, an event that minimally means 70% to 75% of all types of life killed off on our planet?

In short, a massive carnage event is involved and far worse than any war in a particular region since there is practically a worldwide slaughter, an unbelievably huge killing event, involved and one having irreversible results since a destroyed species, around and evolving for an inconceivable expanse of time, can’t come back to life. Never!

Besides, how do we provide jobs for all of these future additional humans? Should we ravage and wrestle even more resources out of the land, waterways and oceans so that they, too, can have jobs for their companies to make and sell the manufactured offshoots from ever greater resource grabs as more and more is garnered out of the world and away from it?

How should we take care of such an additional load of people food-wise and in terms of water? How?

As it is, many places across the globe have water deficits, including Yemen wherein the human population exceeds the local water supply for the number of people in that country. Who’s to pay for the delivery, the water containers and the downpour of water into these life-saving vessels for them? From where is the water to come? Should it come from California that is, land-wise, sinking from water deficits; Flint, Michigan with lead infused water, my town with heavily chlorinated water to fight coliform bacteria (poop infused water from our high regional human numbers)?

How about who’s to pay for the same delivery action there and in other places in the world for sufficient food with am ever growing human population? Have you the money for it – to help impoverished other humans eat several times daily, especially as there are more and more people needing the assistance?

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“A water delivery in Yemen.” (Photo: United Nations)

Should we just keep dishing out more and more resources – food, water and so on — regardless of the impacts on the natural world and our own welfare in the demise of the natural world on which we depend for oxygen, water and other necessities? Should we just take, take ever more and, then, more again to serve our own kind? Should we continue to pollute our remaining supplies?

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5 Facts You Should Know About Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer …

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Eutrophication: this is what a river or lake looks like once fertilized by agricultural runoff … [You want to drink this water? Is it suitable to ship overseas to places with insufficient water in their lands? – S. D.]

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If you’re a vegetarian, don’t think, feeling sanctimonious or not, that “you’re off the hook” in terms of demise with the human population possibly doubling by century’s end. And where does the climb in our numbers end, anyway, even if all people were vegans? Does it end at twenty or thirty billion one and a half centuries later or a century after that? And how would the curtailment happen except through attrition caused by starvation and thirst. Then what is the outcome as people fight over the remaining dribs and drabs?

“On the Vulgamore farm near Scott City, Kansas, each combine can harvest up to 25 acres of wheat an hour—as well as real-time data on crop yields. Most of the food Americans eat is now produced on such large-scale, mechanized farms, which grow row after row of a single crop, allowing farmers to cover more ground with less labor.” [Look at the depleted tan soil in the picture, soil not black and nutrient rich. – S. D.]

What do we do with all of the unfed and water deprived peoples then regardless of whether their number reaches millions or billions? What do we do on behalf of a little child like this one showing lacks?

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UNICEF: One child dies every 10 minute [Reuters] “… More than 400,000 children are at risk of starvation in Yemen, with nearly 2.2 million in need of urgent care, according to the UN children’s agency UNICEF. New figures indicate that hunger among children has reached an ‘all-time high’, with at least 462,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition – a drastic increase of about 200 percent since 2014.” [Malnutrition can cause permanent brain damage and permanent, life-long other severe ailments, such as lack of language development, tremors and malformed brains.  – S. D.]

“There is a real sense of fear in the country about not being able to access healthcare when needed, about what might happen to them if they are in a clinic or a hospital and it’s bombed at a time when they visit,” she told IPS.

Following the Shiara Hospital attack, an MSF doctor reported that maternity room deliveries have ceased. “Pregnant women are giving birth in caves rather than risk coming to the hospital,” they said.

This has compounded health challenges as access to life-saving treatment is limited.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than half of Yemen’s population including 8.1 million children lack access to basic health care—an increase of more than 70 percent since the conflict began in March 2015.

As of November 2016, there was 1 hospital bed for every 1,600 people and over 50 percent of medical facilities have closed.

One woman revealed the challenges of caring for her family in an interview with Save the Children, stating: “We cannot afford health care. If any of our children gets sick, we cannot do anything for them. We do not know where to go…two of my daughters, 5 and 3 years old, have persistent coughs, and I cant help them apart from giving them hugs.”

The ongoing blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition has further inhibited access to necessary supplies to run medical facilities such as fuel.

In one case, a child in an incubator died after a hospital lost power and lacked fuel to use its generators. – From ‘Every Day Things Are Getting Worse’ for Children in Yemen …


When we consider threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our [increasing – S. D.] need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.

Agriculture is among the greatest contributors to global warming, emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined—largely from methane released by cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock. Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supplies and a major polluter, as runoff from fertilizers and manure disrupts fragile lakes, rivers, and coastal ecosystems across the globe. Agriculture also accelerates the loss of biodiversity. As we’ve cleared areas of grassland and forest for farms, we’ve lost crucial habitat, making agriculture a major driver of wildlife extinction. …

For most of history, whenever we’ve needed to produce more food, we’ve simply cut down forests or plowed grasslands to make more farms. We’ve already cleared an area roughly the size of South America to grow crops. To raise livestock, we’ve taken over even more land, an area roughly the size of Africa. Agriculture’s footprint has caused the loss of whole ecosystems around the globe, including the prairies of North America and the Atlantic forest of Brazil, and tropical forests continue to be cleared at alarming rates. But we can no longer afford to increase food production through agricultural expansion. Trading tropical forest for farmland is one of the most destructive things we do to the environment, and it is rarely done to benefit the 850 million people in the world who are still hungry. Most of the land cleared for agriculture in the tropics does not contribute much to the world’s food security but is instead used to produce cattle, soybeans for livestock, timber, and palm oil. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority. – From the article Feeding 9 Billion | National Geographic

Farming Claims Almost Half Earth’s Land, New Maps Show

news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1209_051209_crops_map.html

The Extinction Crisis – The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is the ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch, mainly due to human activity.

Center for Biological Diversity

www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of…/extinction_crisis/

THE EXTINCTION CRISIS. It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions …

Secondarily, I wouldn’t like it, but I’m hypothetically willing to sacrifice my own tiny, limited-in-time life if it serves a greater purpose. If it were to stop a murderer, who’s intent on killing thousands of people or in his bombing millions of acres of land, but my dying in the process is entailed, so it goes. I go forth willingly, albeit reluctantly.

(As Mr. Spock says in many Star Trek episodes, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” …or the one.)

However, I doubt, unless there is a martyrdom complex as some people exhibit, there are any living organisms that truly embraces giving up their lives to support others unless genetically closely related.

The strongest and biggest wildebeests, males and females, form a protective circle around the youngsters and less adept members of their group, like the elderly ones, babies and nursing mothers. Then they huff and puff with deliberately glowering expressions and with horns lowered while waiting for predators to come.

The latter do. Then some break ranks while the circle tightens to be slightly smaller with their absences to close ranks with the ones directly confronting the intended assault charging forward to confront the danger. Yes, all gaps caused by the chasers are closed off, much like happenings in walled cities when gaps occur by a breach or in nations protecting boundaries against assault by outsiders. … and just watch the toughies ram forward as they join forces to ward off predators.

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Yet don’t for a moment think that we can’t turn on our own kind when there is not enough food for all:

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So it goes in terms of ravage, and for all of us. If you doubt my perspective, then once again inspect the picture of the pig farm look, look at the food on your plate despite its contents, your clothes, your household items, the materials from which your home was made, the paper derived from forests in your junk mail thrown directly into the trash, etc., etc.

Meanwhile, I doubt that there are any animals and plants involved in the current, ever expanding extinction event serving as willing participants in self-destruction, including pigs in factory farms, nor wild counterparts witnessing the natural world being less and less able to support them so they turn increasingly on each other, as did lions in the above picture, as deficits in food, water and shelter accrue.

After all, it’s a hard choice to support others’ lives instead of one’s own as the animal in the above picture saw as the lion won the fight against the wildebeest showed. Yet we fight onward generation after generation for survival, which is the reason that my own mother valiantly fought the pneumonia germs, another species that literally gobbled her to death and led to their own indirect demise in the process of her dying and cutting off their food source on account.

Likewise, it’s the reason for poisons, thorns and other defense mechanisms in plants in the same way that humans have nails, teeth, fists, kicking legs with incredibly strong femur bones, ability to wrestle, an immune system that incredibly runs throughout the body, skin to protect innards against predators and that provides other benefits, etc., in an effort to survive. It is the legacy of the way that the world works.

Thirdly, one of the worst, nauseating stories that I read was Shel Silverstein’s THE GIVING TREE. The theme, while about kindness of one species to another’s, seems to presume that the tree was put there to serve a human.

This arrogant, self-centered orientation posed in the book, in turn, reminds me of the Bible passage from Genesis 1:

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. And let them rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the tame animals, over all the earth, and over all the small crawling animals on the earth.”

27 So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female.

28 God blessed them and said, “Have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – From Genesis 1 – NCV – Bible Study Tools

Such hubris and egocentricity! Just who do we think we are in the overall scheme of things?

In relation, one of my least favorite prayers goes something like: “God, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the clothes we wear, thank you for the homes we have. Thank you, thank you, I am glad … and please help everyone on the Earth to have the same.”

Excuse me, but if these advantages came for some people but not others, such as the 20 million people currently starving to death according to UN statistics, one does wonder, if this all is given from God, the reason that He saw fit to give these life saving supports to some and not other, equally deserving, innocent people.

Nope, I just can’t “buy the image.” Especially I can’t since, while we humans may think that “we’re the be all and the end all” of development of life on this planet, it just isn’t so from empirically derived, factually based evidence derived from research into Earth’s history. In other words, it’s the scientific method of inquiry, not myths and fantasies, that show our past … and no, I had no great-great-great… grandmother Eve, who was born of a man’s rib. (What a convenient outlook for men to hold, who want to see themselves as superior to women in male centered cultures rather than to see the truth that, for most species, the female gives forth the life after comingling genetics one way or another like pollination!)

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here. Around sixteen years ago, I read parts of the following book:

Unweaving the Rainbow – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unweaving_the_Rainbow

Unweaving the Rainbow is a 1998 book by Richard Dawkins, discussing the relationship between science and the arts from the perspective of a scientist.

On account, I have faint recollections of some parts, such as the number of times the chain would circle between the moon’s surface and Earth’s crust if lined up on top of each other a one inch urn filled with ashes of an ancestor since the start of your own life. Answer – lots. In other words, we all come from lots of life before us.

If they, the one inch urns, were put in the Grand Canyon, USA or a football stadium, how many Grand Canyons or football stadiums would be filled? Guess. (You can surmise.)

The most amazing part of life on Earth in the book posed to me was this. Okay, do it for the fun of it, I recommend.

Stretch out your arms at your sides left and right as far as you can. Then trace the path from the tip of your longest finger on the left and across your back.

Continue onward down your right arm to your longest finger on the right side. Go to its end and learn that mammals were started at the bottom of the nail on that finger in terms of the time scale all across from  the tip of the left to the tip of the right hands.

Now, know that the white part of that fingernail is when humans arose on Earth. Take one fingernail scrape across its top and this is the amount of relative time that recorded human history in the overall span has existed relative to the totality.

If this scenario seems improbable, just go to the book or go to the website of a museum like the Museum of natural History in NYC, USA. The evidence is irrefutable, as it was in the Dover, PA case.

Judge Rules: Intelligent Design Can’t Be Taught in Class – Live Science

www.livescience.com › Strange News

Dec 20, 2005 – HARRISBURG, Pa. … Jones decried the “breathtaking inanity” of the Dover policy and accused several board members of … As evolution takes a beating, scientists remind us of the difference between fact, theory and belief.

Look: Additionally, simply take this statement loosely reiterated that all life that acts purposefully has consciousness. It’s from Carl Sagan.

Of course, the way that oneself thinks is not exactly like another human’s, nor a dog’s mind. His is not like a cat’s and hers is not like a snail’s, nor a bee’s and so on down the line until we get to plants, which also have some seminal consciousness — some type so different from ours that we just don’t comprehend it in our limited sense of variation in life.

Yet we pluck a live carrot or a potato from the ground, steal energy made for itself and kill to drain its energy into our own selves. We often chomp on them while they’re still alive.

What other option is there except to do so given that Earth has a closed energy system and evolution has dictated that there be winners and losers? None.

Yet, please let’s not imagine that everything here, now and before our times on Earth, was put here for humans and willing to sacrifice for our present benefits. Instead, let’s have a more sensible model, one that keeps humanity in balance with the rest of life on this planet.

One method, which could be used is at https://futurism.com/a-molecular-condom-could-be-the-future-of-male-contraception/ in relation to which a friend of mine, Steve, wrote, “Tricky to inject those not desiring it… Competitive [religious] breeders and machismo ones not likely prospects.”

Yes, tricky: Here are several related bits of information:

When I was teaching at a school in Worcester, MA, USA in 2011, one of the Ghana parents of two children there (by separate mothers to whom he was not married) told me that a male’s greatest worth was to show his prowess and spread his seed throughout society as it showed his great capability physically and in terms of being able to support his children by financial donations to the mother(s). … If I weren’t a teacher, who’d cross professional lines by giving him a “piece of my mind,” you can imagine the words that I would have said to him.

A mother, originating from South America, pregnant with her fifth child, who had her daughter several days in a school at which I taught in 2005, told me that she loved staying home and taking care of children — the more-the merrier. She also said that she had no intention of ever getting a job since “that sort of work,” she told me, bored her. So it was up to her husband to find the funds, she added.

Meanwhile, her husband, a CPA, was struggling financially; he was so much so that he and his wife skipped out on two months of payments for their daughter attending my school.

Great morality here, eh? Can’t pay your bills for which you signed up to pay and, so, you just forego them and leave someone else in the lurch since their daughter’s spot could have been filled by another child on a waiting list.

I could go on and on with these true-life tales since I have many, but why bother? Yet, I have. briefly, a few  more thoughts:

Please don’t for a moment imagine that I blame the Ghana male or South American female for this plight. After all, we have people, supposedly from European decent, like:

The Duggar Family from 19 Kids and Counting

ew.com/tv/2017/03/28/the-duggar-family-from-19-kids-and-counting/

Mar 28, 2017 – Get to know the family that everyone is talking about. TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting.

Then we have the religious sects that forbid use of birth control since it is up to God to decide the number of children that you are supposed to have. And you have to be available to your spouse in the marriage to copulate on request with God as a third member of the union.

How about life in South Sedan? A woman there, I saw in a documentary, typically has five to six children after which her husband is killed by rebels. So are the parents of friends of hers. So she winds up taking in for care five or six more besides her own. … No food hardly at all and no clean water hardly at all.

Fed by donations from the international community through air-drops (expensive). Wants to move to Europe. Who’s to pay for them there in terms of housing, food, transportation, electricity, heat, medical care, schooling, clothes, etc.? How many more can Europe subsume?

Good luck with getting any of the people above willing to accept a condom … or having the ability to pay for it.

Around thirty years ago, I read about a study of a group in some African country being given excessively produced, USA radios able to be donated. Birthrate in the communities given the transistor radios dropped for several months (i.e., during a period nine to ten months later). Then it picked up again.

Why? Batteries in the radios gave out and there was no place, nor money, to buy more batteries.

South Sudan’s people are starving, and fighters are blocking aid – The …

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/south-sudans…starving…/69ef31c2-0f60-11e7-aa57...

Mar 31, 2017 – MAYENDIT, South Sudan — When his stepbrother starved to death in January, Matthew Yaw buried him in the sand next to the family’s shack …

Why The Catastrophic Famine In South Sudan Keeps Getting Worse …

www.npr.org/sections/…/2017/03/…/why-the-famine-in-south-sudan-keeps-getting-wors...

Mar 14, 2017 – And in the case of South Sudan, it’s not drought or climate change that’s … At the same time that people are starving, fighting has turned parts of …

Starvation stalks Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen | News | Al …

www.aljazeera.com/…/starvation-stalks-nigeria-somalia-south-sudan-yemen-1704111...

Apr 11, 2017 – Appeal made for $4bn as mix of drought and conflict threatens 20 million in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. The risk of mass starvation in four countries – Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen – is rapidly rising due to drought and conflict, the UN refugee agency has …

South Sudan: More than one million on brink of starvation – Al Jazeera

www.aljazeera.com/…/south-sudan-million-brink-starvation-170521102619636.html

3 days ago – More than a million people in the country are on the brink of starvation. Some of them are trying to flee to neighbouring Sudan for relief.

Famine strikes in South Sudan, as people in four countries face …

www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-southsudan-famine-20170220-story.html

Feb 20, 2017 – The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan said Monday that 100,000 people “are already starving” in the country. In some …

Yes, tricky given that our increasingly fragile Earth can’t take our continual assault upon the natural world on which we depend to stay alive. No, it can’t take this human increase in numbers assault:

Excerpted:

“Population growth is a choice, not an inexorable force of nature.”

Institute for Population Studies [at Penn State University, PA, USA]

While the public may not be worried about the growing population of our world, demographers certainly are. For centuries, scientists have warned about future detrimental impacts of population growth. Since population growth appears to carry benefits, the average person struggles to understand the harsh tolls it is taking on our world. If the population continues to increase, our species will be negatively affected in numerous ways, including nutrition and standards of living.

John Wilmoth, head of the United Nations Populations Division and an author published in Science, has estimated that in 2050, the population will be roughly 9.6 billion people, and that by 2100, Earth will inhabit 10.9 billion people. Wilmoth states that these numbers are not predictions, but rather “ ‘are projections of what will happen if current trends continue.’ “ Other predictions from the UN suggest that the population could potentially add one billion people every decade, therefore surpassing 16 billion at the end of the century.

population-graph

One of the leading factors of population growth is the world’s birth rate. I believe these estimates differ due to the unpredictability of this and other similar matters. Africa is expected to be the main leader in the increase of population over the next century, and health experts believe that this is due to low access to family planning resources and education throughout the continent. … – From the description at https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/11/05/the-truth-about-population-growth/

So, what are we going to do to correct our species on a universal level? After all, it’s not enough to have a small group of people dedicated to serving the collective whole of life on this planet and it’s very clear that our species is out of balance with the rest of life.

Need proof? Look at plastic in the oceans and a water supply laced with urinated drugs, fecal materials, lead and agricultural runoff. Look at climate change and look at increasingly mowed down forests to provide such diverse products as catalogs, toilet paper, toothpicks, junk mail, paper towels and on and on.

If we can’t figure something viable out to do that can change the destructive course of our species, it’s kind of obvious about whatever will happen in generations to come and, frankly, the outcome is alarming if not outright terrifying. In fact, it may be like a worst nightmare come true!

I want to see all life continue, even the disturbing kinds like little curling, underwater leeches that can suck blood out of flesh. Don’t you?

In my view, all places on Earth are sacred or, at least, deserving of our maximum support to enhance life. Not only churches and temples claim that right.

If we can’t honor, help sustain and care for our natural Earth, where will this lack of foresight land us and our species in times to come? The answer should be clear.

If the best that we can do is not rip the ecospheres further apart for personal and corporate profit, I’m all for it. Let’s strive, in any case, to curtail our human numbers, and try to support the land and waters around us. Let’s do our best to cherish and tend the entire world and each other, too!

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WUAUQUIKUNA – Buffalo white – YouTube

▶ 5:18

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.

2 Comments

  1. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Human beings, if desired, can, not only control their growing population, but also can stop cruelty to animals to produce offspring by suffering through artificial insemination and cruel means of increasing food ( both non- vegetarian and vegetarian). But, human beings are unable to distance themselves from cruelty – both towards fellow humans and nature. They are butchering men, women, animals, plants, trees, and, even air, water and Earth…..

  2. Rick Dworsky says:

    Human extinction has become inevetable and immanent. Too late for politics, too late for significant personal action… we’ve gone past the point of no return. Overpopulation and irresistible individual preservation instincts have sealed our fate. We’ve spoiled our own nest. We won’t be here much longer. Nor will most of the living beings we ignore or exploit. And we either ignore or exploit every lifeform on Earth.

    Some wonder if a new re-evolution might occur after we are gone. But our Mother isn’t young anymore, she’s changed a lot since we were born. Conditions are different now. She can’t create Homo sapiens again. Perhaps in other places in this vast universe, other sentient beings are smarter and more disciplined. Perhaps they will go on. We’re finished.

    A cosmic crime, or simply a dead end cosmic experiment? Perhaps life that feeds upon itself always goes this way. Maybe life here isn’t as important as we think it is. You decide.