This article is to introduce a hypothetical analogous model for understanding the big picture that leads to where we are: massive global poverty, mass species extinction, biospheric damage, and climate destabilization. People think of it as being one issue, such as “carbon,” but there is an entire process that must be halted. Lesser efforts are akin to a hamster on a wheel—lots of activity but zero net movement.
Have you ever dealt with rust? Maybe on your car fender, your lawn mower, or some tools? It is a chain of processes. The iron gets exposed to moisture. Iron begins to oxidize at the surface, undermining the paint. Over time, the oxidation proceeds deeper and deeper. What once was beautiful, shiny, strong metal becomes pitted and weakened…eventually to failure.
How do you fix rust damage? First, you remove it from water or the water from it. Then, you start sanding the surface and sand from the top down until it all is gone. It all must go, or remnants and humid air immediately restart the process. The damage is permanent, but you can use special paint to seal and inhibit rusting. Rust is managed, never permanently eliminated. You might have to repair the damage. This model fits our situation.
Our planetary skin—the biosphere—is effectively rusting, weakening the “pyramid of life” to the point of structural failure. If we are the ones causing it, then it means we have the power to halt it…if we so choose. Let’s begin.
The Planetary Rust Model
Arguably, the rusting process  started as long as over 260 years ago. No matter, as this article focuses on the “water processes”: the abstract parts driving the whole issue – predatory ideologies, cultures, and self-important human nature. Note the cited statistics in the image below for biospheric damage .
Since poverty drives higher reproduction rates , the intriguing question becomes: “What drives global poverty?” The tacit narrative is: “ignorant people, combined with inferior cultures and ideologies and limited resources—are lost save for our virtuous welfare crumbs. …We’re making progress in helping these pathetic people! We caused a lower percentage earning less than $2.15 per person per day (PPPD) – the United Nations (UN) definition of abject poverty. We are bona fide saints.”
No. For one, the UN lowered the definition of abject poverty to artificially decrease the percentage in this category so they can claim progress. Foul ball. For another, the absolute numbers of people in poverty continue to rise. We are talking about billions in de facto abject poverty these days if using a reasonable number such as $20PPPD – $30PPPD.
What if…? What if there are billions of people in persistent poverty because…we want them to be? Woah. I sure don’t want people in poverty. You don’t. If everyone does not, then that must be…false? Well, either that, or we are fooling ourselves. What if the reality is we don’t want people in poverty unless 1) we don’t have to look at them; 2) there is no clear-cut evidence of our complicity, aka plausible deniability; 3) their poverty feeds our prosperity. Ouch.
The term “Narcissistic Sociopathy” (NS) is used herein to describe some person or other entity who predatorily manipulates and harms others for their own personal gain . The argument can be made that in modern society, NS is a “success” skill when done right. Look at the elites, governments, and corporations. Tell me this predatory streak is not present as a powerful force structuring global humanity.
The question then becomes: Would narcissistic sociopaths keep others in poverty for their own personal enrichment? They exploit others to achieve their goals [iv].
If you follow that line of thought, you will realize that NSs are not the root problem. Pulling numbers out of the air for discussion’s sake, let’s say that 10% of the planet is trying to climb that success ladder to fame and fortune (narcissistic tell). Fine. How does a minority come to rule the world?
With help. Maybe another 80% are enabling them. The term “flying monkeys” is commonly used for the legions of enablers that follow narcissists. This silent majority of “Apaths” are, thus, the root problem. Without them, NSs could never rise to power or keep it. Together, the Apaths and NSs have structured our society into an exploitative and predatory machine. The NSs then use their authority to give the Apaths “permission” for predatory practices; they reciprocally detach each other from responsibility.
They are the “water” to the biosphere’s “steel.”
Therefore, remove the water. We cannot break that economic engine without having an economic engine to replace it: the Prosperous Ecology Economic Engine (PEEE)  is currently the suggested replacement. Without legions of enablers, NSs would be forced to give up their failed ideologies and self-importance. Hold Apaths accountable.
We have a de facto Ponzi scheme based on having more children to drive a debt-poverty servitude pyramid-scheme economic engine. The idea is to forever drive GDP growth for the “Haves.” It’s collapsing. We need a “flat” non-Ponzi structure. The PEEE requires everyone to get their share of personal prosperity to drive personal productivity. That can prop up and grow per capita GDP even in a downward-trending population.
“Elites” then largely disappear. Capitalism and personal property still exist, but prestige consumerism is obsolete . High-tech/low-consumption with low-exploitation/high quality of life exists as a possibility for everyone globally, once carrying capacity is met and maintained. Prosperity is a function of individual productivity, not driven by impoverished economic slaves.
Bureaucratic governments and corporations by necessity must be small. Otherwise, non-producers unnecessarily consume resources meant for producers—lowering the state’s per capita GDP. Non-hierarchical, minimal administrative burden, with high value placed on free-will collaboration and productivity (not coercion), is the new norm.
In fairness, what was just described is such a shift in humanity that it is obviously impossible—to make people choose it. However, the alternative is bleak.
Global Ecological and Economic Collapse
I would bet we refuse to evolve, and nature sorts it out the ugly-hard way. But my secret hope is I’m wrong. Note that solutions do exist. They may not be what we want but they exist. It’s not untreatable biospheric cancer. We have rust…and removal is going to take work from each and every one of us.
It requires transitioning to the PEEE, plus each of us reducing our NS enablers, plus choosing not to have a(nother) biological child, for starters. Put that way, it does not sound nearly as daunting. We can still adopt, have stepchildren, etc. If adoption is free globally, there are millions of homeless children  for whom we could prioritize care. We can still make a good living, but it means reinventing ourselves and largely being limited by our own labor and prosperous ecosystems [1, 5].
What do you say? Is halting the destruction of the biosphere a worthy focus for some of your life efforts?
 The Planetary Rust Model, by Samuel Rose: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zgakvATMNzCJWBEHs72UCDkd8S1WFZap/
- The Extinction Crisis https://now.tufts.edu/2019/05/21/extinction-crisis
- Implications of Endemics-Area Relationships for Estimates of Species Extinctions https://www.jstor.org/stable/177495
- Living Planet Report https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/living-planet-report-2022
- Well… this is the million-dollar question https://wwf.panda.org/discover/our_focus/biodiversity/biodiversity/
- Global Extinction Rates: Why Do Estimates Vary So Wildly https://e360.yale.edu/features/global_extinction_rates_why_do_estimates_vary_so_wildly
- Percent of species in critical risk of extinction https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/planet-earth/forests-and-deserts/species-extinction-rate
- Museum of Natural History – Extinction Over Time https://naturalhistory.si.edu/education/teaching-resources/paleontology/extinction-over-time
- Human Population Growth and extinction https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/extinction/
- Biodiversity Loss https://www.britannica.com/science/biodiversity-loss
 World Population Growth https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth
 What Is A Narcissistic Sociopath?
 DPSEE vs PEEE https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oSYbAJ3XOn1nipEY3W91KwjVWke9ApZp/
 It does not have to be. The tradeoff is that if prestige consumerism stays the same, it will merely drive the carrying capacity, based on that, to a much lower number. Most would probably choose to reduce prestige consumerism to accommodate more people.
- Children’s statistics https://www.sos-usa.org/our-impact/focus-areas/advocacy-movement-building/childrens-statistics
- Global Homelessness Statistics https://www.homelessworldcup.org/homelessness-statistics/
- UNICEF reports 28 million children homeless https://www.dw.com/en/unicef-reports-28-million-children-homeless-globally-due-to-conflict/a-19530645
- Child poverty https://www.unicef.org/social-policy/child-poverty
A native Coloradan, Samuel has been interested in ecology and overpopulation since at least 1970. He holds a degree in Range Ecology from Colorado State University and graduate/undergraduate degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. Richard has filed for multiple patents, including the SmartLite sensing technology and iCAML technology (augmented reality). The author writes under the pen names Samuel Rose, Erika Denkle, and Berndt Olafsen. His books and stories are available on Amazon and Amazon Vella.
Since the 1990s, he has championed the Hope Now Project, which he designed primarily to incentivize conception control—although it also aims to teach ecology, make adoption free, and promote a high-tech/low-consumption/low-exploitation/high-quality-of-life culture. He invented the term “Vegan+” to represent veganism, where one additionally chooses not to have a(nother) biological child— the single greenest act one person can do. This year, he is attempting to test this project in a pilot study in Colorado, whether it can be used as a template for a privatized co-op model. Samuel also developed #FiveSimpleThings and the Prosperous Ecology Economic Engine (a substitute for our current GDP-driven engine of poverty and biospheric carnage). He has views on why it is a hard sell to convince people to do what is necessary to halt biospheric destruction. You can follow him on Twitter @SamRoseAuthor.