What can we do about it? - reply

Art Souther souther at CS.UTEXAS.EDU
Wed Mar 29 15:49:31 CST 1995

>>  The result is that the roots of this
>>consumptive addiction are very deep.
>Don't confuse "consumptive addiction" with the "good life."

I haven't, have you?

>And, don't
>confuse absolute consumption levels with relative ones. If you and I
>were the only people on earth, we could consume quite a bit (maybe
>even enough to be living the "good life") without much effect on the
>rest of earth's creatures.

But we are not the only creatures, and will never be, short of some
incredible freakish calamity.  Populations are not going to drop very
quickly at all, even with measures taken now.  But if we reduced
consumption now, the impact would be immediate, and more importantly,
be a signal to the third world that we are sincere.  Certainly
populations need to be reduced, but it is obviously only half the

>Let me reiterate: I don't want to live like do many of the people of
>India, Bangladesh, China, Somalia, etc. On the contrary, I want them to
>have the opportunity to live more at the level of comfort/health
>that I live (or better!). Apparently, the earth can't sustain that
>level of living for all the current population level. So, to achieve
>_my_ goal, there needs to be fewer people, not a lesser "standard of
>living" for us.

Of course there needs to be fewer people, but I think it is denial or
at least extremely naive to believe we can achieve a sufficient
reduction in population before severely degrading the planet, while at
the same time living standards are rising toward ours.

>>  Until we clean up
>>our own house we will have little credibility elsewhere.
>No one wants to live like we would have to live were we to lower our
>"standard of living" to the world's average. That won't build
>credibility either, just more misery.

Of course not, but if we do not make a credible effort to examine the
profligate use of resources that is shocking to my third world
conservationist friends, we will have no moral authority there.  All
I am trying to point out is how the 3rd world views us, and why your
statement that population is the real problem does not help.  It only
makes us look like hypocrites, and without 3rd world cooperation on
population, there really is no hope.

>No solutions yet?  It's a difficult problem, apparently.

Of course, again.  But that doesn't negate the importance of trying to
think of innovative solutions, nor trying to understand why OUR
consumption might be tightly linked to the motivation of the 3rd world
to do something about their population problems.

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