The Earth Is Finite–a Warning from Paul Ehrlich

From the 1996 book, Betrayal of Science and Reason, by Paul R. Ehrlich and Ann H. Ehrlich:

“The choice is between permitting the continued depletion of America’s vital natural capital and making an all-out effort to save it. Science tells us that America’s population cannot keep expanding perpetually, always demanding more and more from the nation’s finite living and non-living resources. The Endangered Species Act at the very least acknowledges the preservation of living resources as a high priority, which was a historical first. By attempting to shield those resources from the piecemeal destruction that is ensured when each species is measured against some perceived immediate economic gain, it helps set the United States on a path toward sustainability.”


“Our massive tampering with the world’s interdependant web of life—coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change–could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand.

“Uncertainty over the extents of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing threats.


“The earth is finite. It’s ability to absorb waste and destructive affluent is finite. It’s ability to provide food and energy is finite. It’s ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits. Current economic practices that damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair.

“Pressures resulting from unrestrained population put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. A World Bank estimate indicates that world population will not stabalize at less than 12.4 billion, while the United Nations concludes that the eventual total could reach 14 billion, a near tripling of today’s 5.4 billion. But, even at this moment, one person in five lives in absolute poverty without enough to eat, and one in ten suffers serious malnutrition.

“No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanitty immeasurably diminish.


“We the undersigned, senior members of the world’s scientific community, hereby warn all humaity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

Under the five things we must do, Ehrlich cites, “We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on. We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to more benign, inexhaustable energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air and water. … We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine plant and animal species.” …

And again,  “We must stablize our population.”


This Year, I’m Not Voting “For” Anyone…

I’m casting my vote against Donald Trump. There are countless reasons why, not least10592828_10153082232478508_4644565137425820442_n of which is that his sons are trophy hunters, responsibe for the deaths of elephants, leopards and untold other African animals.

But, ‘they are not him,’ you might say. No, and George W was not George Bush, Sr. But W would never have been eletected (or even thought of running) if his father wasn’t first. One sport hunter in the upper echelons of government is bad enough (and we already have one in speaker of the house Paul Ryan).

That doesn’t mean Hillary is the perfect choice either, though. Back when she rejected overpopulation as an issue by telling China (as Secretary of State) that their one-child policy was was wrong, I swore I’d never vote for her if she ran for office in the future. (At least her husband and daughter are veg.)

But Trump is clearly the wrong choice, with his statement that he “believes” climate change is a “hoax” and his selection of a fellow denialist for his cabinet.

I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about god, the easter bunny, or bigfoot; climate change is a well-documented, well-proven fact, and the most urgent issue of our time.



Operating at a Deficit

Excerpt from the 2005 book, The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery:

“The twentieth century opened on a world that was home to little more than a billion people and closed on a world of 6 billion, and every one of those 6 billion is using on average four times as much energy as their forefathers did 100 years before. This helps account for the fact that the burning of fossil fuels has increased sixteenfold over that period…

“In 1961 there was still room to maneuver. In that seemingly distant age there were just 3 billion people and they were all using only half of the total resources that our global ecosystem could sustainably provide. A short twenty-five years later, in 1986, we had reached a watershed, for that year our population topped 5 billion, and such was our collective thirst for resources that we were using all of Earth’s sustainable production.

“In effect, 1986 marks the year that humans reached Earth’s carrying capacity, and ever since we have been running the equivalent of a deficit budget, which is sustained only by plundering our capital base. The plundering takes the form of overexploiting fisheries, overgrazing pasture until it becomes desert, destroying forests, and polluting our oceans and atmosphere, which in turn leads to the large number of environmental issues we face. In the end, though, the environmental budget is the only one that really counts.

“By 2001 humanity’s deficit had ballooned to 20%, and our population to over 6 billion. By 2050, when the population is expected to level out around 9 billion, the burden of human existence will be such that we will be using–if they can still be found–nearly two planets’ worth of resources. But for all the difficulty we’ll experience in finding those resources, it’s our waste–particularly the greenhouse gases–that is the limiting factor.”

Surface Methane



Do Humans Have a Moral Duty to Stop Procreating?

by Natalie Shoemaker

Whenever any animal population gets out of control, whether it be an overrun of deer or geese, humans usually step in and make plans to curb it through hunting or damaging nests. It seems cruel, but without natural predators to bring the population down, overpopulation could have devastating effects on the local environment. Yet, humans have shown themselves to be far more destructive than any other animal on this planet, so why don’t we offer ourselves the same consideration? I’m talking about anti-natalism here, the philosophical position that opposes procreation.

“If that level of destruction were caused by another species we would rapidly recommend that new members of that species not be brought into existence,” writes philosopher David Benatar.

There’s a fair argument to be made for anti-natalism that tears at most people’s desire to reproduce and a moral responsibility that few of us consider. This planet is overpopulated and we’re consuming more resources than the Earth can reproduce. You may not know this, but last week featured Earth Overshoot Day — the day when the Global Footprint Network announced that we’ve consumed a year’s worth of resources. The GFN estimates that the first Overshoot Day may have been back in the 1970s “due to the growth in the global population alongside the expansion of consumption around the world,” wrote Emma Howard from The Guardian.

“If that level of destruction were caused by another species, we would rapidly recommend that new members of that species not be brought into existence,” writes philosopher David Benatar, author of the anti-natalist book, Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.

“Nothing is lost by never coming into existence. By contrast, ceasing to exist does have costs.”




Human Population Growth and extinction

We’re in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction crisis. Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson estimates that 30,000 species per year (or three species per hour) are being driven to extinction. Compare this to the natural background rate of one extinction per million species per year, and you can see why scientists refer to it as a crisis unparalleled in human history.

The current mass extinction differs from all others in being driven by a single species rather than a planetary or galactic physical process. When the human race — Homo sapiens sapiens — migrated out of Africa to the Middle East 90,000 years ago, to Europe and Australia 40,000 years ago, to North America 12,500 years ago, and to the Caribbean 8,000 years ago, waves of extinction soon followed. The colonization-followed-by-extinction pattern can be seen as recently as 2,000 years ago, when humans colonized Madagascar and quickly drove elephant birds, hippos, and large lemurs extinct [1].

The first wave of extinctions targeted large vertebrates hunted by hunter-gatherers. The second, larger wave began 10,000 years ago as the discovery of agriculture caused a population boom and a need to plow wildlife habitats, divert streams, and maintain large herds of domestic cattle. The third and largest wave began in 1800 with the harnessing of fossil fuels. With enormous, cheap energy at its disposal, the human population grew rapidly from 1 billion in 1800 to 2 billion in 1930, 4 billion in 1975, and over 7 billion today. If the current course is not altered, we’ll reach 8 billion by 2020 and 9 to 15 billion (likely the former) by 2050.

No population of a large vertebrate animal in the history of the planet has grown that much, that fast, or with such devastating consequences to its fellow earthlings. Humans’ impact has been so profound that scientists have proposed that the Holocene era be declared over and the current epoch (beginning in about 1900) be called the Anthropocene: the age when the “global environmental effects of increased human population and economic development” dominate planetary physical, chemical, and biological conditions [2].

  • Humans annually absorb 42 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial net primary productivity,30 percent of its marine net primary productivity, and 50 percent of its fresh water [3].
  • Forty percent of the planet’s land is devoted to human food production, up from 7 percent in 1700 [3].
  • Fifty percent of the planet’s land mass has been transformed for human use [3].
  • More atmospheric nitrogen is now fixed by humans that all other natural processes combined [3].

The authors of Human Domination of Earth’s Ecosystems, including the current director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, concluded:

“[A]ll of these seemingly disparate phenomena trace to a single cause: the growing scale of the human enterprise. The rates, scales, kinds, and combinations of changes occurring now are fundamentally different from those at any other time in history. . . . We live on a human-dominated planet and the momentum of human population growth, together with the imperative for further economic development in most
of the world, ensures that our dominance will increase.”

Predicting local extinction rates is complex due to differences in biological diversity, species distribution, climate, vegetation, habitat threats, invasive species, consumption patterns, and enacted conservation measures. One constant, however, is human population pressure. A study of 114 nations found that human population density predicted with 88-percent accuracy the number of endangered birds and mammals as identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature [4]. Current population growth trends indicate that the number of threatened species will increase by 7 percent over the next 20 years and 14 percent by 2050. And that’s without the addition of global warming impacts.

Edward Humes

When the population of a species grows beyond the capacity of its environment to sustain it, it reduces that capacity below the original level, ensuring an eventual population crash.

“The density of people is a key factor in species threats,” said Jeffrey McKee, one of the study’s authors. “If other species follow the same pattern as the mammals and birds… we are facing a serious threat to global biodiversity associated with our growing human population.” [5].

So where does wildlife stand today in relation to 7 billion people? Worldwide, 12 percent of mammals, 12 percent of birds, 31 percent of reptiles, 30 percent of amphibians, and 37 percent of fish are threatened with extinction [6]. Not enough plants and invertebrates have been assessed to determine their global threat level, but it is severe.

Extinction is the most serious, utterly irreversible effect of unsustainable human population. But unfortunately, many analyses of what a sustainable human population level would look like presume that the goal is simply to keep the human race at a level where it has enough food and clean water to survive. Our notion of sustainability and ecological footprint — indeed, our notion of world worth living in — presumes that humans will allow for, and themselves enjoy, enough room and resources for all species to live.



  1. Eldridge, N. 2005. The Sixth Extinction.
  2. Crutzen, P. J. and E. F. Stoermer. 2000. The ‘Anthropocene’. Global Change Newsletter 41:17–18, 2000; Zalasiewicz, J. et al. 2008. Are We Now Living in the Anthropocene?. GSA Today (Geological Society of America) 18 (2): 4–8.
  3. Vitousek, P. M., H. A. Mooney, J. Lubchenco, and J. M. Melillo. 1997. Human Domination of Earth’s Ecosystems. Science 277 (5325): 494–499; Pimm, S. L. 2001. The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth. McGraw-Hill, NY; The Guardian. 2005. Earth is All Out of New Farmland. December 7, 2005.
  4. McKee, J. K., P. W. Sciulli, C. D. Fooce, and T. A. Waite. 2004. Forecasting Biodiversity Threats Due to Human Population Growth. Biological Conservation 115(1): 161–164.
  5. Ohio State University. 2003. Anthropologist Predicts Major Threat To Species Within 50 Years. ScienceDaily, June 10, 2003.
  6. International Union for the Conservation of Nature. 2009. Red List.

Humans: Never Satisfied

Quoting John A. Livingston from his book, The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation, in a chapter called “The Arguments: 243

“Before we go further, it will be useful to sum up those arguments for conservation that are based in individual and collective human self-interest, as put forward here. The most fundamental message is: if we can’t be good, at least we can be prudent. The message has been delivered historically and is delivered today in a number of ways: the ‘wise use’ arguments involve husbandry, stewardship, harvest, future resources…

“The guts of the self-interest family of arguments is that they are entirely and exclusively man-orientated, anthropocentric. Whether it is directed to individual, group, nation, or species, the appeal is to the human being and the human interest.

“Throughout we assume nature as ‘resource,’ whether for physical use or as a source of aesthetic enjoyment. In this sense, living sensate wildlife beings are no different from water, soils, and land forms, all of which were set in place by a beneficent nature expressly for human purposes. Whether man is good steward or renegade, whether answerable to God or to the bio-system or to the future human generations or not, there is no question about the locus of vested power and authority on Earth. This is illustrated best, I think, in the monumentally dull-witted arrogance of the concept of ‘harvest’ as applied to wildlife species.

“I no longer believe that there is, in practice, such a thing as a ‘renewable’ resource. Once a thing is perceived as having some utility–any utility–and is thus perceived as a ‘resource,’ its depletion is only a matter of time. I know of no wildlife that is being ‘renewed’ anywhere–not yellow birch or hemlock or anchovies or marlins or leopards or salmon or bowhead whales or anything else. ‘Renewable resource’ is self-contradictory in coherence, at least as applied to wildlife.

“If ‘resource’ continues to mean something that is put to human use, then no resource is renewable. Our demands have quite outstripped the capacity of those resources to satisfy them, and much less to satisfy them on a ‘sustainable’ basis. And we are, of course, never satisfied.”

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After Oregon, California Pharmacists Can Prescribe Birth Control Pills to Women


California has finally cleared the way for women to get and easy access to birth control pills, without needing a prescription from a doctor. California has become the second state in the United States to allow pharmacists to offer birth control pills to women.

Oregon as the only state which gives right to its pharmacists to prescribe birth control to women will be joined by California. A 2013 law that allows California pharmacists to directly provide prescription contraceptives went into effect. However, there are some critics who oppose the newly introduced practice.

Senate Bill 493, introduced by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, allows pharmacists the authority to furnish oral (the pill), transdermal (the patch), vaginal (the ring), and Depo-Provera injection prescription birth control methods for women. This means that there is no more need to fix appointment with gynecologist to seek the best prescription for birth control. This could also give wrong message to the teens according to opponents of the law.

“Community pharmacies are the face of neighborhood healthcare — open beyond normal business hours, and patients do not need an appointment to see their pharmacist. That means pharmacists providing contraception will go a long way to expand women’s birth control,” said Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, which sponsored the original legislation on behalf of the state’s 6,500 community pharmacies.

There are certain things pharmacies have to be prepared for. Some pharmacies have even started training their employees for the new challenge. It is mandatory for pharmacists to ask a patient to complete a health questionnaire and to consult with the patient about the most appropriate form of birth control. In some cases, taking a patient’s blood pressure is required by pharmacists.

Among the opponents is California Right to Life. They say that availability of birth control from another source could not benefit young people and would build gap between a mother and a child communication over the matter.

A report published in LA Times said, “Many public health advocates and doctors say that birth control is extremely safe and point to studies that show that women can generally choose one that works well for them. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the largest group representing OB/GYNs, supports legislation that would make birth control truly over-the-counter.”

Women requesting birth control will have to complete a health questionnaire. A pharmacist will also consult with the patient about the most suitable form of birth control. In some cases, they will have to take the woman’s blood pressure before issuing a prescription.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration can decide if a medicine can be available over-the-counter. The most state legislators can do to increase access to birth control is to allow medical providers other than doctors, such as pharmacists, to furnish the medication.


Why Ted Cruz Is Unfit to Be President

Tuesday, 02 February 2016 00:00

Written by
The Daily Take Team By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program

Ted Cruz isn't just winning the support of religious extremists; he's celebrating their support, and in some cases, hiring them to work for his campaign.Ted Cruz isn’t just winning the support of religious extremists; he’s celebrating their support, and in some cases, hiring them to work for his campaign. (Photo: CJ Hanevy /

One of the most disturbing developments of the 2016 Republican race for president has been Donald Trump’s popularity among the most racist elements in US society. The New Yorker, for example, had lengthy piece over the summer detailing the excitement he has generated in the neo-Nazi movement. But here’s the thing: Trump isn’t the only guy with dangerous supporters.

The media don’t talk about it as much, but Ted Cruz – Trump’s closest competitor for GOP front-runner status – has also won the backing of some downright terrifying people. Take, for example, anti-choice activist Troy Newman, who the Cruz campaign just tapped to head up “pro-lifers for Cruz.”

As the head of the radical male supremacist group Operation Rescue, Newman straddles the very thin line between “activism” and domestic terrorism – and I mean really straddles it. His organization harasses abortion providers and their patients, and some of its members have been involved in plots to blow up women’s health clinics. Newman himself has called for the murder of abortion doctors, said AIDS is a warning from God and believes that drought is God’s revenge for abortion.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

Seems like a great guy, huh? Well, he’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ted Cruz’s supporters.

There’s also Dick Black, who the Cruz campaign has appointed as the co-chair of its Virginia campaign. In addition to advocating for the total criminalization of homosexuality, Black is also a rape truther. Back when he was a Virginia state delegate, Black openly questioned the existence of marital rape, something one of his opponents hammered him on in a campaign ad.

So much for family values, huh?

Cynthia Dunbar, Black’s fellow co-chair of the Ted Cruz campaign in Virginia, isn’t much better. She’s compared women having reproductive rights to the Holocaust, fought to make far-right Christianity part of the public school curriculum and believes that elected officials should have to pass a “biblical litmus test.” She also says that politicians “don’t have the freedom to make any laws if they are contrary to what God has said in his Holy Scripture.”

Swap out the words “Holy Scripture” for “Qu’ran” and that speech could have been made by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.

Another Ted Cruz supporter, Iowa conservative and head of The Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, also says the US should be a Saudi Arabia-style theocracy. Here he is just a couple of years ago talking about why our government should be based on “Godly principles” – i.e. far-right evangelical Christianity.

As unsettling as that kind of talk is, it’s nothing compared to what Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson, another big-time Ted Cruz supporter, said about homosexuality this summer: that it was worthy of the death penalty.

Amazingly, it gets even worse than that.

Ted Cruz supporter and Texas preacher Mike Bickle believes that Jews should be forcibly converted to Christianity and says that if they refuse to do so, God will send a “hunter” like “Adolf Hitler” to get them to change their minds.

Now, it’d be one thing if Mike Bickle was just some random guy with bigoted views who just happens to support Ted Cruz, but he’s not, or at least not according to the Cruz campaign.

When Bickle announced last week that he was endorsing Ted Cruz for president, the Cruz campaign published a statement on its official website saying in big bold letters, “CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENT OF MIKE BICKLE.”

There’s an old saying that says you are the company you keep, and if Ted Cruz is the company he keeps, that’s downright terrifying.

He’s just not winning the support of people like Mike Bickle and Dick Black; he’s celebrating their support, and in some cases, hiring them to work for his campaign.

Of course, there’s always the case that this is just one big cynical ploy to win the Evangelical vote, but even if it is, it says a lot about Ted Cruz as a person and as a leader that he’d willingly associate himself with people who are pretty much the US version of ISIS.

This is one of the biggest stories of the 2016 race for president, but the really disturbing thing is that the media almost completely ignore it.

Turn on CNN or any of the other major networks and you’re more likely to hear about poll numbers than the fact that the potential Republican nominee for president has been endorsed by a guy who thinks Hitler was sent by God. It’s almost like the media think it’s acceptable that someone running for president likes to pal around with Christian extremists and theocrats.

Well, it’s not acceptable; it’s a direct threat to our democracy, which is why it’s time for the media to start taking Cruz and his extremist endorsements seriously. Based on everything we’ve seen up to this point, we have every reason to believe that a Ted Cruz presidency could mean the start of a Saudi Arabia-style theocracy right here in the US. The media should function as the fourth estate and wake the American people up to this before it’s too late.

Surprise, Surprise, Humans Used to Massacre Each Other as Hunter-gatherers


How long have humans been laying waste to one another?

Choose the most likely answer:

500 years.

10,000 years.

100,000 years.

Since the industrial revolution.

Since the agricultural revolution.

Since the dawn of Man.

No one seems to know for sure, but a safe bet is: ever since our first narcissistic primate ancestors climbed down from the trees and started preying on other animals.

But lately, revisionist history would have us believe that human on human conflict started with the agricultural revolution 4 to 6 thousand years ago.

A new study from Kenya reveals that humans from even as far back as 10,000 years ago were killing one another in what would today be considered mass murder.

In today’s news:

Unearthed at Nataruk, near Kenya's Lake Turkana, the battered bones provide "conclusive evidence of something that must have been an inter-group conflict," Cambridge University anthropologist Marta Mirazon Lahr explainedUnearthed at Nataruk, near Kenya's Lake Turkana, the battered bones provide "conclusive evidence of something that must have been an inter-group conflict," Cambridge University anthropologist Marta Mirazon Lahr explained