Speaking Out: One Voice from the Wilderness

Salmony, Steve Earl | March 29, 2018 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Speak Up by Shallom Johnson | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One voice from the wilderness is too weak to be listened to. My voice, for example, is not clear enough, strong enough, loud enough or adequately established so as to be heard. How can any person in a position of influence among our most wealthy and powerful leaders possibly be expected to receive a ‘best available science message’ until we and others who are similarly situated speak out, as if with one voice, about what could be somehow real, according to the best available science and ‘lights’ we possess?

Declining fertility rates virtually everywhere on Earth need not blind us to the undeniable, ongoing annual increases of absolute global human population numbers. Human numbers have exploded by more than 5 billion on earth in the past three score and ten years. This population growth ‘trajectory’ is patently unsustainable on a planet with the size, finite resources and frangible ecology of Earth. Please consider how the growth of human numbers worldwide is caused by the spectacular production and distribution of food for human consumption. With each passing year more people are being fed and more people are going hungry.

For years we have been encouraged to ‘think globally’. Let us hope that it is not too late to begin ‘acting globally’. There is no time to waste because untethered overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities of the human species are on the verge of causing a global ecological wreckage of the planet we inhabit by turning Earth’s land surface into mountains of human detritus and its seas into sewers.

As things stand, the leading self-righteous elders in the world, on our watch, are charting a course to the future that will wreak havoc on what is surely sacred and normalize what is plainly profane…come what may. And these self-proclaimed ‘masters of the universe’ erroneously believe that they can have some faraway island or mega-yacht to which an escape from the global ecological wreckage would be possible. More evidence of immaculate hubris, I suppose.

Those few with power would like the status quo to remain as is; whereas, the many, too many, without power want necessary change and a ‘course correction’ while a ‘window of opportunity’ remains open. Note to us all: the window is closing steadily in our time. When unbridled production, consumption and propagation activities of the human species are occurring synergistically, expanding rampantly and effectively overspreading earth, perhaps this moment in space-time is an occasion to do something that is different and somehow right… for a change.

No one knows what is possible once we begin somehow to do things differently from the ways that we are doing things now here on our planet. At the moment we know that silence has overcome science; that greed has vanquished fairness and equity; that ignorance and stupidity have almost obliterated common sense and reason; that hubris has virtually annihilated humanness. Like it or not, ready or not, we are presented with enormous challenges.

Let us hope that our most able responses to the human-induced and -driven existential ecological threats looming ominously before humanity do not come too late to make a difference that makes a difference. There is much to do. Human limits, global planetary limitations and time constraints are the factors to which we are called upon to respond ably with all deliberate speed.

If only the world worked the way we want it to! That all-too-human creatures of Earth were actually self-proclaimed ‘masters of the universe’ in more ways than ‘name only’. By evading extant scientific knowledge about our distinctly human creatureliness and the biophysical limitations of the planet we inhabit; by widely sharing and consensually validating utterly false, hubristic thinking regarding our seemingly god-like super-human capabilities and Earth as a maternal presence ­–imagined as an eternally expressive teat; by denying that earth is relatively small and finite with a frangible environment, it may be that the human community is not able to evade the consequences of our patently unsustainable behavior. Can we rise above our apparent incapacity to respond ably or not? Can we do so in a short time-frame so we avoid insurmountable ‘doomsday scenarios’?

Note the exquisite talents demonstrated by the savants among us or the teachers, poets, artists from whom there emanates universally shared, humane values, principles and practices for living or the leaders who have not sold out their souls for the poisoned fruits of power, gluttony, greed, wrath, pride, envy and effortless ease. The global challenges presented to our generation of elders are likely different from the threats to human well-being that had to be confronted by our ancestors. But that does not mean, even for a moment, that their challenges were either more or less difficult from the ones we face.

If our ancestors had not acknowledged, addressed and overcome the challenges before them, I dare say that we would not be here now. It does not appear that our generation of elders has so much as begun to struggle in a meaningful way with the global challenges before us. We collectively have been running away from our responsibilities and duties to the family of humanity and Earth’s well-being in general.

Our children and their children after them will say that we have failed them. Their true statement, perhaps spoken someday soon as a refrain, is not acceptable and cannot become our enduring legacy to life on this planet and to the planet, itself. We cannot luxuriate in our willful ignorance and self-serving hysterical blindness any longer.

The moment to step up, take hold, and move forward courageously is at hand. The time has come to accept the challenges already dimly visible in the offing.

Let us speak out as if we are a million voices because so many of us remaining electively mute make us complicit in the destruction of Earth and life as we know it. Are better, more responsible courses of action available to us? If so, other ways of going forward need to be discovered, discussed and implemented, fast.

Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A. established The AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population in 2001.  He lives in Fearrington Village, NC, USA and can be contacted at sesalmony@aol.com.

The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org

MAHB Blog: mahb.stanford.edu/blog/speaking-out/

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  • Dustoffer

    It has progressed to a point where cooling of the oceans is needed quickly to prevent the Arctic zero ice summer of 2022 and probable positive feedback of many hundreds of gigatons of methane hydrate, and an ELE worst than 251 MYA. The advantage of a Toba Event, or its equivalent, is that it also quickly reduces human population and emissions. If all the nuclear reactors can be safely shut down and the survivors committed to building many thousands of CO2 to carbonate factories and drones to replant 3 trillion trees with the existing ones coming out of dormancy, and several thousand OMTEC devices to help refreeze the Arctic, it would be a population bottleneck instead of much worse for a geologic length of time.

    • Erik Michaels

      You obviously missed this part, quote: “And these self-proclaimed ‘masters of the universe’ erroneously believe that they can have some faraway island or mega-yacht to which an escape from the global ecological wreckage would be possible. More evidence of immaculate hubris, I suppose.”

      • Dustoffer

        There are millions who will be able to live undergound up to 20 years, more for 10 years. The long global winter, probably from nuclear bombs, necessary to stop thermageddon, with the necessary steps to keep methane turnover from coming back. If it is not stopped, humans can not outlast it underground or anywhere on the planet. Biosphere I and II did not work. Perhaps if something life it could work, they might be able to last 100K years until the storms end. The atmosphere will take a million or more years to return to enough O2 for animal life. The odds don’t look good. Islands and yachts, and submarines will probably not last either. Maybe a Toba Event, but not an MT Event after an insufficient winter. People have a strong tendency to do too little, too late. Some may try very long term cryogenesis, with AI to reawken them. Stored DNA to help re-evolve life.

        • Erik Michaels

          The idea that humans can live underground is pretty hilarious. Short term, possibly. But 10 or 20 years? Laughable at best. Technology requires energy and the two of them together are what have gotten us to this point in time with all of the various predicaments we are suffering from. So, technology and energy use CANNOT get us out of this mess as they have CAUSED it.

          • Dustoffer

            It won’t be me, but there are a number of underground cities set up for around ten years. You can buy an underground stocked condo for 3 million!. They even have grow light farm areas, powered by modular small Gen 4 reactors. Breeder reactors that can make fuel are in some. I was referring to an aerosol event like Toba, done with nuclear bombs buried with sulfate ores on top. We know that the ocean heat buildup is melting the Arctic ice over 1500GTs of methane, and it is as a result of the CO2 of the past 40 years, much of which has to be removed for a permanent solution by factories already developed that have huge blowers sucking in air, taking out CO2 and turning it into carbonate bricks. There are drones designed to plant trees from air drops over the land cleared by people for crops, and we know there are 3.1 trillion trees left, many that would go dormant for a long winter, and they are less than half of what there was before human clearing for agriculture and cities, which will have to return to forest. It is a theoretical way of stopping thermageddon, not a sure bet. I would say a 50-50 chance, dependent on safe shutdown of existing reactors. Otherwise, it is 50 million years of recovery like it was 251 million years ago. Maybe dinosaurs will evolve again. I don’t know, there are a lot of possibilities, including equatorial superrotation setting in. Without an aerosol event, the surface will become unlivable for us and our support systems fairly quickly. It is too late for anything else to work. Going solar, having one child, that was last century, back when I did it. Do you have any other ideas for a solution to end the MT Event? Chanting “Uturuncu!” or “Yellowstone!” might be something to consider. Prayer is another.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    The sight of what could be somehow real calls out to us for intellectual honesty, moral courage and responsible action, not apoplectic indignation. Nothing can be changed that is not seen. Seeing that which is precedes necessary behavior change.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    Please help us understand the point of ignoring the root cause of what ails humankind. Human population numbers have exploded by 5+ billion in my lifetime. The best available ecological science of human population dynamics accounts for this staggering, patently unsustainable growth of H. sapiens. Why choose consciously and deliberately to address nothing more than the ‘symptoms’ of what ails humanity? We have an adequate ‘diagnosis’ for what is ailing the human species. We know the cause of the problem H. sapiens presents to itself, worldwide biodiversity, and the integrity of Earth as a planetary home fit for human habitation. If the ongoing human population explosion is in fact the root cause of cascading global ecological threats to future human well being and environmental health, how on Earth do we avoid winning some Pyrrhic victories all the while losing the struggle for the future of continuously evolving life on the planet we inhabit?

  • stevenearlsalmony

    Perfidiously, profanely, the masters of the universe among us have taken so much of what is regarded generally as “abnormal” in human behavior and cleverly normalized all of it.

    • stevenearlsalmony

      “Disaster comes when elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources.”

  • stevenearlsalmony

    A cultural interpretation of what is happening now. Culture presents us with much that is real and also less that is illusory. From a psychological standpoint, because humans are shaped early and pervasively by cultural transmissions in our perception of reality, it is an evolutionary challenge for humankind to see the world as it is. When a psychologist thinks a patient is suffering from a mental illness, that is an evidence-based clinical judgment. However, general standards of normalcy are not clinical judgments, but matters of socio-cultural norms and conventions that are full of correctly perceived aspects of reality as well as some misperceptions of reality. Deeply disturbed mental patients distort reality drastically. “Normal” people pay no attention to them. Or if attention is paid to them, it is usually just long enough to put them away. After all, they are crazy; they cannot distinguish what is fantasy from what is real.
    By contrast, organizations like nation-states, as well as cultures, appear not to misperceive reality so sharply, yet distortions of what large aggregates of people perceive do remain. A term of art in psychology is useful here, “folie a deux.” The term means that two people share an identical distortion of reality. This understanding leads to other terms, “folie a deux cent million” for a social order or “folie a deux billion” for a culture. These terms refer to a misperception of reality commonly held by many people of an organization or culture. One way to define the highest standard of what is “normal” for the individual and for human aggregates could be looked at in terms of what is free of illusion, what is in scientific fact real.
    Even experts, I suppose, can and do confuse ideology with science, contrived logic with reason, self-interested thinking with common sense. Science regarding the activities of the human population appears to be ignored when ignorance of the world as it is serves to support greed-mongering, social order and religious dogma. I would like to submit that on occasions such as these, conscious and unconscious thinking in the service of a status quo leads to distortions of what could be real and perversions of science. In such instances, fantasy is embraced by many people; knowledge of what could be real is eschewed.
    In these early years of Century XXI, humanity could be confronted with formidable, human-driven global challenges, some are already visible on the far horizon. It is inconceivable that the human community can respond ably to whatever challenges present themselves in the years just ahead if we choose not to so much as acknowledge what is real and visible to naked eyes. We can also recognize how the blinding power of certain adamantly maintained and widely shared culturally transmitted fantasies regarding global consumption, production and propagation activities of the human species could have mesmerized many experts into thinking that the humankind is somehow not an integral part of the natural world we inhabit and ultimately not subject to biophysical limits to growth that are ultimately imposed on living things by a planet with the size, finite make-up and frangible ecology of Earth. Perhaps human exceptionalism is fantasy not reality. And yet, human exceptionalism has been broadcast ubiquitously as if it were real.
    What is aiding the perpetuation of fantasy and the denial of reality? Why the stony silence among top-ranked experts regarding the unsustainability of the human overpopulation of Earth, while the utterly false hope of natural, automatic population stabilization and a benign end to population growth soon has been broadcast everywhere as if such an attractive idea had the support of sound science?
    Leaders and followers alike in the family of humanity can do better, and I trust we will soon enough awaken to the need for behavior change rather than continue down the primrose path Rachel Carson called a culture-driven “superhighway”, a yellow brick road to the ever increasing size of an already colossal global political economy. Our adamant advocacy and relentless pursuit of an intellectually dishonest, morally disengaged and patently unsustainable way of life — a fool’s errand for endless economic growth synergized by unbridled population increases— simply cannot last.

    • stevenearlsalmony

      We can also recognize how the blinding power of certain adamantly maintained and widely shared culturally transmitted fantasies regarding global consumption, production and propagation activities of the human species could have mesmerized many experts into thinking that the humankind is somehow not an integral part of the natural world we inhabit and ultimately not subject to biophysical limits to growth that are ultimately imposed on living things by a planet with the size, finite make-up and frangible ecology of Earth.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    Once upon a time absolute global human population numbers reached the 7 billion mark, only to rapidly increase 0.5+/- billion between 2011 and now. Nothing is effectively stemming the rising tide of humanity, at least not yet. If we can agree to follow the shibboleth, “think globally, act locally,” perhaps we can begin to organize our thoughts about out human-induced global predicament. Then design and implement a local plan of action.

    Petition to Define Limits of Economic and Population Growth in the Town of Chapel Hill, presented to Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and the Town Council of Chapel Hill, NC on November 21, 2011.

    Steven Earl Salmony Opening Remarks ——- In Chapel Hill and around the world, it is all the same: many too many people can be found in too many places destroying the natural world for personal economic gain. Many human-induced pressures on Earth’s finite resources and its frangible ecology, that directly result from the unbridled global growth of overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities by the human species, put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future for children, not only in Chapel Hill but elsewhere on the surface of our planetary home. If we are to halt the reckless destruction of Earth as a viable resource base as well as the irreversible degradation of an already polluted environment and a warming climate, we must accept limits to growth.
    We must start somewhere soon to chart a sustainable course. Endless economic and population growth appear to be unsustainable. Let us consider now and here ways we can humanely, fairly, equitably and realistically define limits to economic and population growth in Chapel Hill, while there is still time to do so. Once the comfortable and friendly size of Chapel Hill is lost due to economic and population growth pressures, Chapel Hill’s quality of life and special characteristics will be impossible to regain.

    Perhaps we can “think globally” about the predicament seven billion human beings present to the viability of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. Then we choose to ”act locally” in ways that move us in the direction of a sustainable future for children everywhere and for life as we know it.

    A Petition to Define Limits to Economic and Population Growth in Chapel Hill

    Whereas the Town of Chapel Hill appears to be outgrowing the comfortable and friendly size that has made it a wonderful place to live, raise children, work and retire; and
    Whereas increasing traffic congestion, crime and other social ills are presenting worrisome trends that result from human population growth which will eventually degrade Chapel Hill’s eco-friendly environs, deplete its limited natural resources and conceivably ruin what makes our town beautiful and special; and
    Whereas the Town of Chapel Hill has established limits and the Great State of North Carolina has boundary lines that separate it from adjacent states; and
    Whereas the USA has borders that confirm the limits of authorized human activity under its regulations and laws as well as distinguish itself as a separate nation; and
    Whereas Earth is round, bounded and finite with frangible environs not flat, unbounded and unperturbed by human production, consumption and population activities of the human species worldwide; and
    Whereas there are well-known biological and physical “rules of the house” in our planetary home that are categorically different from the manmade laws which regulate day to day production, consumption and population activities of human species, but are no less important to citizens of Chapel Hill, the State of NC and the USA as well as to the global citizenry of the human family, precisely because the biophysical reality of God’s Creation places immutable limits on the unbridled global growth of human overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities; and
    Whereas a billion human beings were added to family of humanity worldwide in the last dozen years (1999 to 2011); and
    Whereas in the month of October 2011 we expect that the seven billionth human being will join the human community; and
    Whereas there are more human beings in November 2011 existing on resources valued at less than two dollars per day globally than were alive on Earth in the year of my birth (2.3+ billion in March 1945); and
    Whereas we have heard many times, understood well enough, and can reasonably be expected to at least consider acting in a morally responsible way upon a shibboleth of humanity that goes like this, “Think globally, act locally,”

    Now, Therefore, It appears appropriate to Propose and Present this brief Summary of a Program for Action.

    As a part of the town-wide envisioning process to consciously and deliberately manage economic and population growth in the Town of Chapel Hill between now and 2020, leaders, planners and stakeholders will assure that the maintenance of the unique character and the quality of life in Chapel Hill, as we enjoy it now, is protected and preserved for the children and future generations. To accomplish this goal, various scenarios or different elements of a single scenario will be developed with the hope that the following steps will be examined for their efficacy.
    Because overpopulation is ultimately a local issue, set an optimum/maximum population size for the Town of Chapel Hill in 2020. This goal can be fulfilled by adopting growth-management policies related to limits on the number of new residential dwelling units and to additional eco-friendly curbs on commercial developments per year between now and 2020. Zoning regulations can be promulgated to further restrict the size of residential, commercial and industrial buildings within the town limits. The reality-oriented adoption of “soft caps” on economic and population growth will make it possible for the Town of Chapel Hill to sensibly acknowledge and adequately address the considerable and potentially unsustainable growth pressures that are readily visible on our watch.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    1834 North Lakeshore Drive

  • stevenearlsalmony

    From among many legends in human history, please recall one from Greek mythology: Achilles heel. Despite a remarkably robust constitution, Achilles had one weakness. He was invincible in all parts of his body except his heel because, as the legend has it, when Achilles’ mother submerged him in the river Styx she held onto him by one heel.

    Perhaps the human species also suffers from its own Achilles heel. This unexpected, all-too-human vulnerability takes its unexpected shape in the unlikely form of a non-recursive biological problem. A rapidly increasing supply of food for human consumption is causing absolute global human population numbers to erupt violently on our watch. That is to say, human population growth is a viciously cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and this recent, skyrocketing growth in human numbers worldwide has given rise to the mistaken impression, the critical misconception, and the misperception that food production needs to be increased evermore. This means that the global food supply is the independent variable and absolute global human population numbers is the dependent variable; that human population dynamics is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species. The human species is not being threatened in our time by a lack of food. To the contrary, humanity and life as we know it could be inadvertently put at risk by a determination within civilized societies to continue the dramatic, large-scale overproduction of food to feed a growing population such as we have seen occur in the past 75 years, during which time the human community has rapidly increased in size from 2+ billion to an astounding 7.5+/- billion.

    Our stupendous ability to produce food and distribute it around the world is causing absolute global human population numbers to skyrocket. But humanity’s potentially mortal wound, its Achilles heel, does not cause pain. Our ailment does not so much as hobble us, at least not yet. And the absence of pain is tragic because we are not reminded by pain that a serious biological problem exists from which our species suffers. If we are to respond ably to what is threatening harm to us, perhaps our painless vulnerability will have to be disclosed (not suppressed), acknowledged (not avoided or side-stepped) and its cause, its obvious yet apparently unforeseen cause, addressed (not denied) so that a remedy for what ails the human family can be found and the painless yet dangerous problem Homo sapiens presents to itself can be overcome.

    In any event the patently unsustainable growth of humankind must be recognized now here because our failure to do so will leave future generations is the position of having no choice but to make the same catastrophic mistake we are making now. Perhaps a way will be found and a path taken that constrains the unbridled global growth of distinctly human overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities.

  • Esther Phillips

    Hi Steven
    Whilst this is very nicely written some of us saw it coming a long time ago and didn’t have children, a choice you could probably have made too despite the sadness it creates. No crocodile tears are being shed as to what is awaiting the poor sods in the near future, just naked fear for having been unwittingly and without consent made part of this looming disaster.

    I have been suggesting for a long time that children born today should be given a legal right to sue their parents – harsh yes, but fair. Those who are being yanked out of happy oblivion via conception at a rate of over 10,000 per hour to face what is by now a climatic boat that can no longer be turned around, conflicts that are already brewing everywhere and the sadness of seeing everything they hold dear (as I did with bio-diversity and Earth’s sheer untamed beauty) disappear should have a way to ask for redress. As to a ticket to Mars? Why bother? Earth is being turned into Mars so there really isn’t any reason to want to go there.

    • stevenearlsalmony

      The truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy.
      Robert Louis Stevenson

      • stevenearlsalmony

        The ultimate tragedy is not bad people abusing good people, it’s good people remaining silent about it.
        —Martin Luther King Jr.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    All the direct descendants of the King of ancient kings, Ozymandias, cannot be allowed to write epitaphs or rule over Creation any longer. Lest all that is left on virtually barren, windswept shorelines of every coast on the surface of Earth is nothing more than decaying evidence of a colossal wreckage, marked by unlit leviathan-like monuments and stone-silent towers pointing toward the heavens.

  • Eric Rimmer

    Right on, Steve – if only our dreams could become reality !
    Best wishes.

    • stevenearlsalmony

      Thank you, Eric. Keep going.

      The ideologically-driven, self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us have haphazardly constructed a patently unsustainable dream-world called the global political economy. This artificial economic colossus has increased in size to a point where it is threatening to overwhelm the resources and ecosystem services of the planet we are blessed to inhabit. As the colossal economy has grown exponentially, the primary beneficiaries of this global pyramid scheme have literally separated themselves and their followers from the reality of the Creation. The leading elders of our generation have chosen to worship the currency of the worldwide political economy and by so doing forsaken the Earth. For profane benefits of a manmade dream-world they have betrayed sacred reality: humanity, global biodiversity, and Earth. The masters of the universe appear determined to grow the global economy endlessly even if the human community, life as we know it, and the planet are sacrificed in a preposterously vain fool’s errand — to gain dominion over the Earth and all that could live in our relatively small, noticeably finite and frangible planetary home.

      • stevenearlsalmony

        Who are these self-proclaimed masters of the universe? The one percent of the one percent? We do know they recently renamed themselves Homo sapiens sapiens (i.e., the wisest of the wise) and have chosen to extol their virtues as designers and builders of towers of babblers; as vendors of words and clever poseurs; as possessors of sycophants, fixers and those who play with the rule of law (not by it); as liars, cheats and thieves; as greed mongers, manufacturers of arms and merchants of death; as owners of private jets, mega-yachts, fleets of cars, opulent mansions and faraway islands. Of all this these wannabe gods do boast, do they not?

    • stevenearlsalmony

      Perhaps we can let go our artificially designed, cleverly invented, patently unsustainable dream-world, one that is currently recognized as a global economic colossus, and reconnect in a sustainable way with the real biophysical Creation that has been gifted to us for safekeeping and certainly not to ravage. Human beings with feet of clay could replace the one percenters, the hubristic dreamers, the wannabe gods; a renewed, reality-oriented appreciation of Earth would take precedence over the colossal dream of a worldwide economic pyramid scheme. This unsustainable scheme could be realistically reorganized as a self-sustaining economy similar to the economy of Earth.

      • Eric Rimmer

        I’m afraid that – once again, you right, Steve. – Keep the faith !

    • stevenearlsalmony

      Dear Eric, So unfortunate is the silence that has overcome the science which is alive but not yet acknowledged by many too many scientists. This silence is different. It is strangely oppressive and seems not to pass away. This silence is like a darkening cloud that keeps growing and blocking more and more light from the sun. It is unexpectedly palpable and mawkish. This silence is killing the world we inhabit and life as we know it. With contemplativeness and hope, Steve

  • stevenearlsalmony

    A question for your consideration: What is it really like to be “a voice in the desert” when your task is disclosing unchallenged science of human population dynamics to avoidant scientists and ideologically-driven experts in economics and demography? Perhaps the experience can be compared to running in quicksand.


    Amen to all that, Steve. How many wake-up calls does humankind need?
    You know about it, but others may not, a group of us have been apologising to our grandchildren since 1994, based on the saying:
    We have not inherited the earth from our grandparents, we have borrowed it form our grandchildren.
    As described at http://www.ecotimecapsule.com. Please visit there and view/listen to my singer/songwriter son’s video “The Promise” : which is our collective undertaking to our grandchildren (in 2044 when the time-capsules are to be dug up) that we will have MUCH less to apologise for! Window of opportunity for that to be true is not yet completely closed….
    John Guillebaud

  • W. Douglas Smith

    Darwin, Guns and School Safety

    Darwin firmly established that no species can survive if it does not insure that their offspring reach reproductive adulthood.

    Where are the priorities of the richest nation on Earth when it comes to protecting their children?

    The assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King brought major firearms legislation within 5 years. President Linden Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 that restricted mail order sales of firearms.

    The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and shooting death of Rock Star John Lennon resulted in the 1993 Brady Act. The Brady Act established who could buy a weapon through an FBI background program, and a mandatory waiting period when buying a handgun.

    Between 1999 and 2018 there have never been fewer than 5 school shootings per year. Of these shootings 64.5% were targeted, 22.3% indiscriminate and 13.2% undesignated. Since Sandy Hook in 2012 where 20 first graders and six adults that were killed there have been an additional 239 school shootings nationwide with 438 shot with 138 killed.

    More recently 59 adults and young people were slaughtered and 527 wounded in Los Vegas by the son of a convicted bank robber. His AR-15 military style weapon was converted to function like a machine gun with a legally purchased “bump stock.”

    This February, seventeen children and adults were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

    Children who survived the Parkland massacre organized and to defend their generation against this genocide. Over 800,000 children and adults marched on Washington DC to protest gun violence and seek better protections. More than a million others demonstrated in the U.S. and around the world in support. Thus far no legislation has reached the President’s desk, though the President has suggested that more guns in school might be a good solution. Senator Santorum (R-Pa) suggested that instead of marching on Washington, the students might learn CPR instead.

    What can be drawn from this history?

    You can kill and maim hundreds of children with little or no action to improve child safety in schools, but shoot a few politicians and major gun legislation will soon follow.

  • Dana Visalli

    Good post, thank you, full of passion & caring. Barry Lopez noted many years ago, ‘There simply are no answers to some of the great pressing questions of life.’ Science does pretty well, but science also created hydrogen bombs, and the so-called green revolution. Hopefully everyone realizes ‘government’ is a farcical construct. ‘All governments lie, all the time, and nothing they say should be believed.’ IF Stone, circa 1990. See Abby Martin’s latest about the Holy Land 5, doing true charity work, now will life prison sentences from the monster loose upon the land, the so-called US government, a criminal operation if ever there was one.

  • stevenearlsalmony

    Many too many people seem not to be ready to acknowledge, much less begin to address, the human-induced global ecological challenges looming before humankind. Scientific reticence, too, remains as a predominant obstacle to the gathering of momentum necessary for behavior change within the human community. Based upon the best available science of human population dynamics, the whole truth needs to be openly discussed, widely shared and consensually validated about why the human species is overpopulating Earth. At this point the forthright disclosure of extant, uncontested ecological science regarding the population dynamics of the human appears to be too difficult a responsibility to accept and too demanding a duty to fulfill for many-too-many, well-established professional researchers with appropriate expertise.

  • Jude Asphar

    I love men. I’m a #MeToo, longtime Feminist and environmental activist — and it’s time we recognized our male-dominated world in context. As women gain momentum, patriarchy becomes more threatened. Scarily evident in the shriveling White House. It’s time to evolve, adapt, expand our consciousness and apply what we know now about ourselves to how we go from here, lest we end up where we’re headed. Once primed for species’ survival, the same imperative now threatens us and life on Earth. Here’s one perspective: https://thecoracleproject.blogspot.com

  • Luis Gutierrez

    Very good! Steve Salmony is really a voice from the wilderness. Consider this report about the current situation in Cuba:


    Unless current trends of population and consumption growth are reversed now, the entire world may be in a substantially similar situation 50 years from now, with local variations as to shortage details and modes of repression, and massive migration attempts from one hell to another. Not a promising outlook, and clearly a case of inter-generational injustice.

    • stevenearlsalmony

      Given the current colossal size and anticipated growth of synergistically occurring overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities by the human species worldwide, I remain concerned that a planet with the relatively small size, limited resources and frangible environs of Earth will be overwhelmed by a “rising tide of humanity” before the positive effects of universally declining total fertility rates can give rise to the predicted results of substantially lower absolute global human population numbers.

      • Luis Gutierrez

        I share the same concerns. Using the math of feedback control systems, it seems reasonable to infer that overshoot may be followed by some painful oscillations, something like shown in the simulation graph below (this was generated by a toy simulation model, nothing comparable to “Limits to Growth”). Humanly speaking, it would take a miracle to attain a smooth transition from unbridled growth to some sensible steady state. Let’s hope that humans can adapt and trigger a conscious cultural evolution in the decades and centuries ahead. Else, the outlook is grim.


        • stevenearlsalmony

          Dear Luis,

          Something else is deeply disturbing. If we take a moment to look around at what is happening within the United Nations Organization; international organizations focused upon population pressures and the global environment; professional organizations like the Society for Conservation Biology, numerous climate destabilization networks, International Union for the ‘Scientific’ Study of Population, economics councils around the world, not one organization among them all is willing to so much as entertain a discussion like this one. Not even as an annual event will a single one of these organizations examine and openly discuss the best available scientific research of human population dynamics/overpopulation of Earth. Their false declarations of “automatic population stabilization” and “a benign end to population growth soon” are consensually validated and broadcast ubiquitously by the mainstream media under the imprimatur of science. In the face of their specious thinking and theorizing, scientists choose to remain hysterically deaf, willfully blind and (s)electively mute. As a consequence, the suppression of the best available science regarding the patently unsustainable growth of the human species on Earth has been abetted by scientists. That which is presented to the human community is nothing more than a travesty of science. Silence has overcome science. Given this distinctly contrived situation, there can be no “conscious raising of collective cultural awareness.”

          If only people everywhere could look out from Earth’s ‘watch-tower’ to see what is happening in this world on our watch while there is still time to make a difference that makes a difference. Children standing on the surface of Earth in our time are having their birthright stolen from them by their elders. The children can see that their future is being mortgaged by their parents. Most likely our children will rightly look back in anger and utter disbelief at the incredibly selfish ways we have failed them. We elders will not be among “the greatest generations.” To the contrary, by continuing our voracious business-as-usual activities leading to the reckless extirpation of Earth’s biodiversity, the rapacious dissipation of its limited resource and the relentless degradation of its environs, we will probably be remembered, sadly, mawkishly, as the worst generation of all time.

          The leading elders of my generation can do better. Let us all hope that responsible actions of elders as we go forward, resulting in necessary change toward sustainability and a good enough future of life for children everywhere, is in the offing.


          • Luis Gutierrez

            Dear Steve

            Now you are in the domain of human culture and free will, which transcends all math calculations. Indeed, a profound cultural revolution will be required. As a Christian, I believe that miracles happen when humans collaborate. Miracles can still happen, so we must keep fostering the required ecological conversion and trust in divine providence.

          • stevenearlsalmony

            Dear Luis,

            In these early years of Century XXI, humanity appears to be confronted with formidable, human-driven global challenges, some are already visible on the far horizon. It is inconceivable that the human community can respond ably to whatever challenges present themselves in the years just ahead if we choose not to so much as acknowledge what is real and visible to naked eyes. We can also recognize how the blinding power of certain adamantly maintained and widely shared culturally transmitted fantasies regarding global consumption, production and propagation activities of the human species could have mesmerized many experts into thinking that the humankind is somehow not an integral part of the natural world we inhabit and ultimately not subject to biophysical limits to growth that are ultimately imposed on living things by a planet with the size, finite make-up and frangible ecology of Earth. Perhaps human exceptionalism is fantasy not reality. And yet, human exceptionalism has been broadcast ubiquitously as if it were real.

            What is aiding the perpetuation of fantasy and the denial of reality? Why the stony silence among top-ranked experts regarding the unsustainability of the human overpopulation of Earth, while the false hope of population stabilization and an end to population growth soon has been broadcast everywhere as if such an attractive idea had the support of sound science?

            Extant scientific evidence indicates with remarkable simplicity and clarity that Demographic Transition Theory, for example, has to be a misleading, incomplete, ideologically-driven logical contrivance that just so happens to be politically convenient, economically expedient, religiously tolerable, socially agreeable and culturally prescribed. Demographic Transition Theory is not adequately supported, indeed directly contradicted, by heretofore unchallenged scientific research. How could the perpetration of so pervasive a silence with respect to science, as well as the consensually validated broadcasts of pseudoscience, ever have been accomplished during my entire lifetime?

            What is going on? How did this denial of what could be real occur on our watch? How have the broadcasts of false hopes been maintained regarding a benign, soon to occur, and somehow automatic end to human population growth? How have these false promises been maintained by experts acting as censors of science and real facts? Are powerful and influential people colluding to deny scientific knowledge?

            Leaders and followers alike in the family of humanity must do better, and I trust we will soon enough awaken to the need for behavior change rather than continue down the primrose path that Rachel Carson called a superhighway. Our adamantly advocating and relentlessly pursuing a morally disengaged and patently unsustainable way of life — one of endless population growth and connected economic growth — simply cannot last.

            So very much has been ignored, avoided and denied. So little that needs to be done has been achieved. There is so much to do that it is difficult to know just where to begin again…. and how. Perhaps one way to begin would be to examine skillfully and carefully how it is that the acquisition of endless amounts of filthy lucre at any cost by the one percent of the one percent has been established as the prime objective for all of human existence.


          • Luis Gutierrez

            Steve, we are practically on the same page. As a Christian, I am concerned that patriarchal theologies have significantly contributed to the ecological crisis, because the man-nature relation is a mirror of the man-woman relation. In this context, I have been doing a bit of research and recently posted these pieces to my journal:

            Integral Anthropology ~ Consubstantial Complementarity of Man and Woman

            Religious Patriarchy ~ Obstacle to Integral Human Development and an Integral Ecology

            I am now trying to abbreviate and combine these two long pieces into a one page summary. Religious patriarchy is a cultural tragedy that is becoming a doctrinal travesty and a social and ecological disgrace. In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis mentions the need for a “bold cultural revolution.” I wonder what he means. The Catholic Church (1.2 billion) could be a significant contributor to the “renewal of humanity” that he advocates:

            “This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to “biocentrism”, for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.” (LS #118)

            This is where we are. I am concerned that the patriarchal structure of the Catholic Church also has to be renewed, to preach by example, but this in turn opens another can of worms. We have to keep plugging along, as best we can, knowing that we shall not see these issues resolved during our lifetime, but we must not despair as we try to contribute our 2 cents. Hang in there my friend!

          • stevenearlsalmony

            Dear Luis,

            In Pope Francis the Catholic Church has surely found a leader for these tumultuous times. He is not doing everything within his power, at least not yet; but we can agree, I suppose, that he is moving in the right direction. More similarly situated leading elders who embrace the values of Francis are desperately needed by the family of humanity now here.

            Our children deserve the chance to live with the prospect of a future that is good enough. I am no longer thinking of leaving the children a better world than the one that was given to my generation. That appears out of reach now. Too much damage has already been done. Too many of nature’s resources have been recklessly dissipated; too much degradation of the planet’s ecology has occurred. It remains a hope that my generation of elders, with unaccepted responsibilities to assume and unfulfilled duties to perform, will change our ways for the sake of keeping Earth fit for habitation by children everywhere. As examples, we could pay our debts instead of mortgage the children’s future; clean up the enormous ecological messes that have been made in the course of the past 75 years; and eschew “bigger is better” as well as “the biggest is the best” in favor of “small is beautiful,” doing more with less, and embracing the spirit of living well by thriving simply, thriftily and sustainably. Who knows, the current primrose path to the future could be abandoned before it is too late to make necessary behavior changes to sustainable individual lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises.

            Perhaps humankind can be seen as a creature of the Earth that has been travelling down a long road over many generations, a road of growing production and distribution capabilities, of wanton overconsumption and reckless hoarding, and of unbridled overpopulation of the Earth. Although the overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities have been occurring for hundreds upon hundreds of years on a relatively modest and sustainable scale, recently these activities exploded in seemingly uncontrollable ways everywhere on the planet, without sufficient regard being given to such extraordinary growth by ‘the brightest and best’ who denied both human limits and Earth’s limitations.

            An improbable combination of narcissism, arrogance, foolhardiness and greed-mongering has apparently given rise to a leadership class that willfully denies the “rules of the house” in our planetary home. Many too many leaders have decided to behave like kids who were left alone and given the run of the house. Come what may. The house rules regarding human limits as well as a finite planet with a frangible ecology are ‘forgotten’ or simply ignored. Acting in a laissez faire manner and living without limits are the new guidelines for behavior. Whatever is viewed as politically convenient and economically expedient is determined to be best thing to do. Of all things, greed is extolled as a virtue. The wealthy take whatsoever they want. The shibboleth of my generation can be summed up in three words, Greed is good.

            The elders-behaving-like-kids shunned the rules of the house and began tearing up everything in our planetary home. Yes, we have been making a big mess. When some among us realized what we were actually doing and spoke out loudly and clearly, all the home wreckers immediately were stuck, as if between a rock and hard place. Do we stop the destructive activities or else choose to keep tearing up the place? This is a difficult choice. Who knows, perhaps we will not be caught red-handed at what we have been doing. And if we are caught, we could always blame the planetary wreckage on other bad boys. Or we could agree among ourselves to point ‘the finger of guilt’ at one another. In this way, no one will be able to tell who did what, so that no one can be held accountable. How many times have we seen kids at play and men at work blame their wrongdoing on others and not ever take responsibility for their deceitful, demonic and destructive behavior?

            Either the choice to turn back by beginning to clean-up the mess or the alternative to keep tearing things up is fraught with danger. From a kid’s perspective we could face more danger by trying to clean up the messes we made than we would be exposed to by continuing with our rampage of the house. Either choice presents its own threats. After all, so much damage has already been done to everything that was supposed to be protected and preserved for those who have to live in the house thereafter. There is no longer any easy way forward for us, even in the best circumstances. Why not keep going while the opportunity exists? Come what may.

            Although all in the family of humanity are implicated in the worldwide pollution, natural resource depletion, and environmental degradation of our planetary home, please note that humanity itself is not the perpetrator of the colossal predicament looming before the human community. Self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us bear primary responsibility for what is happening. These dishonest and duplicitous prime movers who are promoting the gigantic mess, have successfully arranged things, they believe, so as not to have any “skin in the game” being played out on Earth in our time. Like kids at play, they think they will escape the consequences of their action by finding refuge on a mega-yacht or a faraway island or a fortified mountaintop retreat before they face justice. Do not ask them about their plans for the children’s future.

          • Luis Gutierrez

            Steve, what goes around, comes around — it’s a matter of time. I share your anxiety and your anger. Not even Pope Francis has dared to address squarely the overpopulation issue. We all have personal and cultural limitations. All we can do is to keep raising awareness as best we can, by word and example, and crying for justice for future generations. Peace be with you in this beautiful season of Easter.

          • stevenearlsalmony

            Dear Luis,

            Thank you, my friend. If you please, consider a question derived from a forced-choice situation. Do responsible professional researchers with appropriate expertise not have a “duty to warn” of looming threats to future human well being and environmental health or are they to pose as if blind, deaf and dumb to the human-driven global predicament their research discloses to them?

            What we know thanks to well-established scientific knowledge about evolutionary biology, humankind and the finite biophysical world we inhabit would lead sensible people to conclude that there is precious little that can be done to change the ‘trajectory’ of human civilization, as it presents itself to us now here. So powerful is the force of evolution that we will “do what comes naturally” by continuing to overpopulate the planet and await the next phase of the evolutionary process. So colossal, reckless and relentless, too, is the unbridled expansion of the global political economy now overspreading the surface of Earth and polluting its frangible environment. Even so, hope still resides within that somehow humankind will make use of its singular intelligence and other unique attributes so as to escape the fate that appears ‘as if through a glass darkly’ in the offing, the seemingly certain fate evolution appears to have in store for us. In the face of all that we can see now and also hear, I continue to believe we can find adequate ways of consciously, deliberately and effectively doing the right things, according the lights and knowledge we possess, the things which serve to confront and overcome the ‘evolutionary trend’ which seems so irresistible.

            Somehow we have to grasp much more adequately the sum and substance of our distinctly human nature, with special attention given to improving our ‘reality orientation’ with regard to such vital issues as human population dynamics. Although relatively small in number, biologists, ecologists and scientists in other fields of research understand what the best available science indicates to us about the skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers in our time. Research of outstanding scientists indicate that the population dynamics of the human species is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species. We have uncontested, apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome scientific evidence regarding the ‘placement’ of the human species within the order of living things that is everywhere denied; whereas, preternatural theories (eg., demographic transition theory), political ideologies (eg., conservatism and liberalism) and economic theologies (eg., neoclassical economics) are deceitfully and ubiquitously presented as evidence from scientific research. To extol the virtue of ideas that have been refuted by scientific research cannot be construed as the right thing to do. Political correctness and economic expedience cannot forever define what is real. When theory, ideology and theology are directly contradicted by science, then the best available science must be widely shared and consensually validated. Scientific knowledge must come to prevail over spurious theory, self-serving ideology and specious theology.

            There are several things we can at least begin to contemplate: how to live without fossil fuels; how to substitute a circular economy for the endless growth economy we have now; how to humanely stabilize human population numbers worldwide; and how to deal with the relentless dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the reckless degradation of its environment, the wanton extirpation of its biodiversity as well as how to confront other human-induced threats to our planetary home as a fit place for human habitation. Most people can agree, I suppose, that exposing children around the world and life as we know it to foreseeable dangers cannot somehow be construed as the right thing for leading elders to be advocating. We have to keep our wits about us as we move courageously away from outrageous per capita overconsumption, unconscionable hoarding, and big-business-as-usual activities to a way of life that embraces whatsoever can be sustained by a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth.

            Best to you during these holy days,

          • Luis Gutierrez

            Dear Steven,

            If “the population dynamics of the human species is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species,” then we are back to growth in response to surplus energy (courtesy of fossil fuels) followed by overshoot and collapse with severe oscillations on the way down to carrying capacity. What we need is for the human species to show that we can be *different* from other animal populations because we have reason, conscience, free will, and the capacity to adapt. So we need a “bold cultural revolution” and a “renewal of humanity” (as Pope Francis has suggested) whereby thinking and acting in response to self-interest alone is superseded by new modes of thinking and acting in response to *both* self-interest and the common good. In other words, we need to evolve from *Homo economicus* to *Homo ecologicus.* Given the current political climate, how can humanity attain such a transition is beyond me; but we have to keep swimming agaist the current and hope that a global humanitarian calamity can be avoided.

            Take care,

          • stevenearlsalmony

            With every fiber of a being that is all-too-human, I suppose, it is left to each of us to do vigorously the right things, according to the best available and the ‘lights’ we possess. Then we can hope for a collective catalyst springing from with the human community that in a seemingly magical way transforms Homo economicus to Homo ecologicus.

            There is something each of us can do that few are doing. That “unaccepted and unfulfilled something” not being done by many too many now here appears to be this: Willfully denying sound scientific knowledge and remaining electively mute regarding the human condition as well as the “rules of the house” in our planetary home.



            As things stand, more than any other factor, it is the deafening roar of silence that is killing the world on our watch.

            Sincerely yours,


          • stevenearlsalmony

            The number of human beings on Earth was 2+ billion in the year of my birth (1945). In all of recorded human history there is no evidence to indicate that the human population was ever larger than it was then. Hundreds of thousands of years passed by without an incredible increase in absolute global human population numbers such as we have seen in one lifetime… in the past three score and ten years. During the past 70 years human numbers have increased by 5+ billion. There is only one question worth asking. Why have human numbers increased so rapidly in so short a period of time? The answer is obvious and simple. The spectacular capability of humankind to increase annual production and distribution of food for human consumption has given rise to the colossal growth of the human population in our planetary home.

            One of the most significant unintended consequences of this bacterial-like growth of a mammalian species is the onset of the Anthropocene Era when Homo sapiens sapiens (self-named to signify ‘the wisest of wise’ species) became the momentary rulers of the world we inhabit. The skyrocketing increase of the human population on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth has given rise to a number of apparently unforeseen and exceedingly deleterious outcomes. Among these potentially catastrophic, human-driven results is climate destabilization. What is fortunately becoming relatively easy to see now here, as we observe what is happening through our naked eyeballs, is the manifold ways overproduction, overconsumption and overproduction activities of the human species are occurring synergistically and simultaneously threatening life as we know it, environmental health and future human well-being. The spectacular increase of these distinctly human, overgrowth activities is causing the unrestricted extirpation of global biodiversity, the relentless dissipation of limited natural resources, the unbridled degradation of the environment and the reckless threat to a good enough future for children everywhere.