Friday, April 07, 2006

A Buddhist thought experiment re: Pianka

The creationists are in high dudgeon over Eric Pianka's somewhat Cassandra-like warnings regarding over-population exhausting resources on this planet and "natures revenge." (Dare I call his warnings "shrill?" That would imply that the complaint is "unpleasant" to some listeners, but not necessarily false. Kinda like Krugman.)

Anyway, it occurs to me that it's quite easy to show one way or another what Pianka is saying- as if it needs to be said: consider what you consume: the water, the coffee, the gasoline, the soap, the plastic, the food, the electricity, etc. in a single day. Consider what you throw out. Consider what you excrete. Consider what you buy, and how much money you spend.

In Soto Zen temples, at meal times, in order to cultivate mindfulness and compassion, the participants say, "Seventy-two labors brought us this food. We should know how it comes to us." Now 72 is a metaphor, of course (I can forgive Condi Rice on her "thousands of mistakes" statement for a similar reason, plus she was speaking off the top of her head. Not that thousands of mistakes weren't made. But I digress).

But for all we consume, there's a web of other things that have been consumed to bring us what we consume; some of it is what others consume of course, but some is consumed merely to bring us what we consume.

So lots of stuff is consumed.

How much?

It is undeniable that the world's resources are finite. When will the collective ecological footprint of humanity exceed the ability of the earth to sustain it?

Some Christians think Jesus is coming soon. I think this is wishful thinking; regardless of whether or not there's a Jesus coming, without changing the way we do things there would inevitably be some kind of crash coming.

And, incidentally, Jerome a Paris does for copper today what he's done for oil.

Interesting coincidence.

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