China and the U.S. each require 21 percent of global biocapacity -- together almost half of all human demand on nature's services. The U.S. is obscenely prodigal in its demand on nature and has been and will be apparently until the liquidation of nature itself. This nation's addiction to stuff and things, to the automobile, mansions, to a hedonism that would have caused Solomon to ache with envy, apparently can be kicked only by a clout on the snout, that is, by the rudest and most grievous sort of awakening to the results of ecological bankruptcy.
The clout on the snout may come as a result of global warming, a phenomenon exacerbated by humanity's carbon footprints, which are one half of its ecological footprints. Greenland's glaciers are melting. The Illulissat glacier is spawning icebergs at the rate of 20 million tons of ice per day. It is estimated that it is its smallest in 6,000 years. It is calculated that Greenland's glaciers will this year slide about 52.7 cubic miles of ice into the sea, contributing to a rise in sea level worldwide.
The melting glaciers in Greenland are sinking the islands in the Pacific. The islanders of Tuvalu, nine tiny Pacific islands that are a group of tropical atolls and reefs just two meters above sea level, are losing their land to sea water. They are looking for a place to go to resettle their 12,000 islanders.
In Holland, ice skating is a mostly a memory. The winters are warmer. The threat of climate change has caused Hollanders to take their fingers from the dikes that have held back the sea for nearly 400 years and allow the sea to have land that is in places 22 feet below sea level. But, now they are working to live on the sea in floating homes and to cultivate floating greenhouses for food. In the Netherlands the handwriting is on the wall: The Sea is coming.
The fierce urgency of now is to recognize that humanity is on the Titanic. The iceberg is the mindless procreation of more people, the prodigal use of earth's resources, the creation and frenetic consumption of stuff, the mal-distribution of wealth, the daily indignity of dumping tons of trash and the maintenance of an economic system, the implementation of whose dogmas build a bigger iceberg day by day.
Where are the leaders in the world who cry "Enough!" Enough population! Enough maniacal consumerism! Enough reinless capitalism! Enough of rank wealth juxtaposed to abject poverty! And enough of the species Homo sapiens -- one of 10 million species -- monopolizing the earth to an extent that the others are threatened with extinction!
And where are the pro-life religionists who consider every human, alive or conceived, holy and who thus oppose contraception, abortion and euthanasia -- while the ship of Humanity, on its present course, is doomed? No god that views what mankind has done with this planet would excuse it or consider providing another. Or a Heaven for that species that is creating a Hell.
Mann is a lawyer who lives in Hinton.