(To read Part 1 of the letter to the 21st century humans, click here.)
Dear 21st century humans,
All sarcasm and jokes aside, it is really grave that we have consumed all the resources that the Earth can produce to support it’s living systems in a year, before the year is up.
- We are digging our grave (literally).
- We are digging other living things’ grave.
- Movies like Interstellar and Prometheus are still fiction.
Here’s what environmentalist are shouting right about now-
“We need to reduce our consumption drastically! We need to be responsible earthlings! We need to go on a resource diet, if you will!”
The “diet” analogy is brilliant. Because it highlights just how wrong and impossible the idea of “reducing” consumption is. We diet to lose weight. Most people nearly starve themselves, and after much pain and misery and serious strain on their self-control, they reach their desired weight.
But what happens after that? The diet is overcompensated. We binge, because the body is craving for food. And all the hard work goes down the drain.
Exactly that is going to happen if we go on a “resource diet”. Our needs are so high that we will nearly starve to achieve the target of the diet, and once that target is met, the consumption is going to sky-rocket.
So what’s the solution? I’m going to use the diet analogy again. What is it that fitness experts recommend when you want to lose weight? “Eat what you want, but make sure you exercise enough to compliment it.” In other words, increase metabolism.
In the Earth’s case, this means that use whatever resources you want, but ensure you are help the Earth produce enough to compliment it. In other words, increase resource production.
Just like the “increased metabolism” method works to lose weight, “increased resource production” method will work to shift the Earth Overshoot Day towards December.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Because increasing resources has been achieved before.
A man named Jadav “Molai” Payeng has grown a forest right from scratch, on a previously barren land in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam.
He was distraught to see many many reptiles dead in that barren sandbar after a flood. The sun had burnt them up. In order to create a safe haven for the many animals indigenous to that area, he had the creation of this forest a lifelong endeavor.
Today, that forest stands over 1360 acres of area, and is thriving brilliantly.
(To read more about this story, click here.)
Take a moment to understand the magnitude of the job this guy has done.
- This was one man.
- He was working on a barren sandbar, land that was deemed unfit for economical use.
- He created a 1360 acre forest on that land in 30 years time.
His sole motivation; a safe place for the animals.
What do the rest of us have compared to Molai?
- Many, many acres of land, barren or otherwise that can be used.
- A lot more manpower and scientific knowledge.
- A worthy enough motivation- the survival of life as we know it today, and it’s advancement.
If he could achieve a forest in 30 years, don’t you think with the kind of tools we have we can achieve much more in a much shorter amount of time?
I’ll give you an example of this too. The people of New Delhi, appalled after being named the “most polluted city in the world” decided to improve the quality of the air in the city. Led by the Times of India, there is to be a plantation drive that will plant close to 10,000 trees in the city, which in 10 years will drastically improve the quality of air, and make the city cleaner and greener.
More people, more initiative, greater motivation, faster results, better growth.
And this is just one resource, forests. Make sure there is enough growth of forests, and a lot of our economic needs will be fulfilled effortlessly, and no environmentalist will even think of shouting “THE ENVIRONMENT WILL NOT SURVIVE! WE ARE OVERUSING RESOURCES!” again. Because we have helped the Earth increase resource production.
Think about what can happen if this same logic is extrapolated to a whole host of resources that is “strained” in today’s world (which I will in the letters to come).
Sure, reducing, reusing and recycling is a good method to tackle resource overshooting, but in the current scenario with increasing economic focus and increasing population, this method is not good enough on it’s own.
We need to help the Earth increase production of precious resources to support the increased demand by the living world. That will shift the Earth Overshoot Day towards December.
And it’s possible.
Fellow 21st century human.