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Restitution from the Rich

Restitution from the Rich

The lead story in the Sunday, 11/17/13, New York Times is headlined “Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis – Restitution Demanded – Typhoon Highlights Rift as Poor Nations Fault Rich for Damage” in the Times’ report on the proceedings at the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The American representative at the conference emphasized that the United States has its own problems, and that “fiscal reality” would not permit large, “restitution,” transfers to poor countries coping with rising seas, drought and other nasty effects of climate change. This blog suggests a different perspective: the planet’s core, continuing reality is that too many people have been and are consuming too much. Only Mother Nature can handle that problem. Earth’s human population needs to drop by billions to reach sustainability, to restore peace with the natural world. Empathy for fellow humans in pain from climate change is part of our better selves, but aid to prop up societies where humans have exceeded natural systems’ capacities will likely be counterproductive long-term.

Homo sapiens are not exempt from natural laws mandating that a species will die back when the demands the species imposes on its environment exceed capacity. Deer die off when rich grazing and lack of predators lead to too many babies, and eventually the population collapses when too many deer consume too much. Humans are the Universe’s only known technological species, and we so far have been able to harness more of Earth’s land, water, and air for our use than any other animal has ever been able to do. But civilization’s linear growth, including the physical Gross World Product, will not continue indefinitely on our finite planet.

Man has changed the third rock from the Sun greatly since the dawn of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Earth is telling us that too much of a good thing is too much, and that it is time for mankind, just like other species which have exceeded Nature’s carrying capacity, to retreat. Ongoing, quick, catastrophic climate changes are now happening, and it’s not possible to shelter all of humanity from the consequences of our long collective party. The best strategy is to protect, as best each of us can, those closest to us, and to watch the rest of civilization evolve as it must.

Image By The Library of Virginia from USA (Money bags and bars  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons


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