Friday, September 2, 2011

Ranting about the world

I wrote the following post a few days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  I didn't publish it at the time.  I think I thought it too harsh.  But I re-read it now, and think it's worth sharing.

We tend to live our lives with our heads in the sand, don't we?  I mean, from what I can see, most people simply can't handle looking too deeply into things (perhaps for good reason - they have their own lives to live, their own personal stresses to deal with, and looking into the large issues just adds far too much stress - people tend to shut down when you overload them too much).  And I'm not critiquing everyone else here, I'm one of the ones who knows how much these stressors hurt and make ME want to shut down.  Certainly as a culture we automatically switch to "someone else will take care of it" or "if it wasn't okay they wouldn't allow/encourage us to do it", right?  Because as an individual we can't fix it, and as an individual we can't make the laws.  Our governments are designed to do that for us.  But our governments are composed of regular people ... who are flawed, who are swayed by money and power.  Our governments have failed us.  Our greedy natures have gotten us into a very bad spot.  Can we see it yet?  Are we looking?  Do we really see what events happening on the other side of the world mean for us?  Hell, how do we see that when we don't see what events happening HERE mean for us?

So with the events of the past week, perhaps we all need to look, open eyed, without blinders, at what happened in Japan - at WHAT IS HAPPENING in Japan.

The earthquake was terrifying.  The tsunami was horrifyingly devastating.  And the nuclear danger that looms and looks worse every day, is liable to be nothing less than catastrophic - on a large scale.

First and foremost, nuclear power.  We are seeing the truly inevitable results of our over-consumption of electricity.  From what I've heard, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was undergoing improvements - and the Japanese government was warned that their power plants were not up to seismic standards.  So what prevented the world's 3rd largest economy from fixing it's reactors in a timely manner?  Can it be anything but greed?  Putting it off meant that money could go other places.  Perhaps the maintenance was put off because of the economic crisis.  I really don't know, but in hindsight it looks unforgivable.  The powers that be made a pact with the devil that could affect the world - and a great deal of the global population will never see any benefits from the use of nuclear power, by the way.  All the lessons of history have told us that over-doing ANYTHING isn't good.  There is bad that comes along with all good (looks like it's in equal quantities, too), and we should really not be so surprised when the bad comes to collect.  We need to stop using nuclear power, we need to stop using oil, we need to stop over-consuming energy, and we need to start doing that now.  But we won't.  I have no faith that even this large a disaster will open our eyes - because we will go back to normal in a few days, the people in Japan will pick up what's left of their pieces and we will forget.

The pain, the heartache and the images (take a look at this - we need to see it) we keep seeing are just too much to comprehend.  Most people will numb to it.  Because we've seen it so often in movies, we can unconsciously put it into that category of "not real".  Unless you've seen it with your own eyes, I think it is impossible to understand the devestation.  I know I don't.  But it is real.  Over population of our globe caused a situation where hundreds of thousands of people were living in areas along the coast where traditionally much smaller numbers of people lived.  If our population wasn't as terribly high as it is right now, a far smaller loss would have been felt from the tsunami.

We're dealing with a tragedy affecting far more people at once than probably any other disaster in the history of human kind.  A perfect storm of over-population, irresponsible energy use and production, and the inevitable geological shifting of the earth's crust (which we tend to forget about until something like this hits). 

Japan is a reflection of the world.  Overpopulation, fragile food and energy systems.  Geological realities that we don't want to look at (and don't forget the climate - although that wasn't a key part of the Japan crisis).  The unfortunate truth is that humans tend to not learn from others' mistakes.  We need to make our own.  And we have.  We are living our truth.  We gambled and lost.  And yet, we don't see it.  We continue to putter along.

So, is this depressing news?  Might be, especially if you are particularly tied to how you've been doing things for the past 40 years.  But, I think there is great room for improvement here.  An opportunity to face the future with an eye to adventure.  Learning to live differently could be fun.  This is a place to start re-thinking what is important and how we can be responsible global citizens.  To me, of course, it comes down to environmental action - reduce your drain on resources, simplify your life.  Stop driving the Hummers, people.  You know?

I think the lessons will vary between people.  Perhaps you'll want to start spending more time with friends and family, stop spending so much time working.  Change priorities when you see how quickly things can change.  Maybe you'll want to advocate for alternative electricity sources, fight to stop using nuclear power.  Raise money for a charity.  But I think all of us need to rethink something.  Because what we're doing right now just doesn't seem right.

*** Was I right?  Did we all forget about it and just continue on with our lives?  I know I did. 


  1. As you point out, due to overpopulation and subsequent urbanization, coupled with geographic isolation and a lack of natural resources, Japan has been caught between desperate need and a poverty of options when it comes to energy supply.

    If they halved their current population - or perhaps reduced it to one tenth - nuclear facilities would not be required. Additionally, the remaining population could inhabit the centre of the islands and leave the coastlines undeveloped. Had they done so - again, as you point out - they would have escaped the horrors of the tsunami.

    Your article would seem to suggest that such a re-envisioning of Japan would be a preferable option. Do you agree?

  2. I can't even post a comment on my own blog as me! However, this is the owner of this blog: In response to "Inquirer":

    I think my point is that the human race in general has out-grown the capacity of the world (the Japan case is just showing it more clearly to us) and that, one way or another, we are going to end up in a situation where our population will be lowered for us (natural disaster, epidemics, fertility problems). Our world is also going to be re-envisioned for us if we do not do it ourselves (and I don't think we'll like it very much) - so we really need to act, but I doubt we will - at least not as a group. In no way, however, am I suggesting that the Japanese people deserved this or that genocide should be attempted to reduce population numbers (sorry, I don't know who you are or what you are actually thinking here).

  3. Thanks. Would you suggest some form of global family planning then? Limit the number of children per household and, thus, reduce the total world population?

  4. Me again - anonymous blog owner ...

    You know, I really don't think that the world will ever agree on a global plan to reduce population - although China, in this matter, was really forward-thinking when they put in their measures, but they had a dictatorial government that held power over all of them - internationally it would be much more difficult. I truly believe the only way our population will be reduced in large enough numbers world-wide will be through natural intervention (disease, etc.). I don't think we'll ever be able to come to any consensus that will be effective or that could be done in a reasonable amount of time. Nature will be much more efficient at reducing our numbers than we ever could be - because there will be no moral questions involved. I've done my part by having only one child, but so many people don't consider over-population when they are planning their families.


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