16 September 2011

Part 11: overpopulation in 21st century America—our silent predicament

Part 11: Silence across the land, food, fertilizers, top soil

Most Americans cannot dream nor do they give a second thought to the United States adding 100 million people within 25 years. For some mysterious reason, few connect the dots on water shortages currently manifesting in Florida, California and Arizona. Other states like Colorado and Georgia find themselves in similar situations. Americans don’t quite ‘get’ the accelerating ramifications of rising gasoline prices.

They will soon enough! Already in Great Britain and most of Europe, gasoline costs $10.00 a gallon. For us, it’s only a matter of time. As a bicyclist, I sport a T-shirt that depicts a fully loaded touring bicycle that reads, “SUV of the 21st century!” You may buy one at www.adventurecycling.org. It creates a conversation wherever you go!

In his brilliantly written book, Too Many People, Lindsey Grant addresses such things as our energy depletion, food crisis and much more. You may find his book at www.sevenlockspress.com and www.amazon.com . Grant is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Environment and Population Affairs.

As a world traveler, Lindsey Grant witnessed overpopulation on a deeply moving scale. It affected him. Very few people can venture into third world countries without exiting—and not feel an intense if not acute sense of distress.

Grant addresses our dwindling food supply. He focuses on top soil, energy and fertilizers.

“Fertilizer: the world is caught in a trap,” said Grant. “It produces more and more commercial fertilizer to grow more food for more people. Worldwide fertilizer use rose six times from 25 million nutrient tons in 1960 to 150 million tons in 1990 and it may rise to 225 million nutrient tons by 2020.

“Farmers face a diminishing response curve. They get less and less output per pound of fertilizer as they use more of it, so fertilizer use increases faster than food output until it doesn’t produce enough food to pay for itself.”

Consequences to massive fertilizer use include nitrates injected into underground water cisterns, but much worse, those chemicals run-off into rivers to create 10,000 to as large as 27,000 square mile dead zones (North Sea out of Europe).

“We know some of the immediate effects,” said Grant. “Health problems from nitrates in drinking water, leaching of nutrients from forest soils, acidification of lakes, eutrophication of lakes and bays, leading to oxygen starvation and catastrophic declines in fishery, to “brown slime” in the Adriatic, the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, [now at 10,000 square miles], and deadly “mahogany tides” in the Chesapeake Bay, all the result of fertilizer runoff.”


Another imminent mind, Lester Brown, of www.earthpolicyinstitute.com, determined that human agricultural activity destroys 26 billion tons of topsoil annually. Thus, with every year of humans adding 77 million to this planet net gain, that topsoil loss accelerates beyond comprehension. Again, as the World Health Organization reports, over 18 million humans die of starvation or starvation related diseases annually—thus, as we add 77 million each year—we find ourselves never able to catch up to the ‘food bank’ for feeding such numbers.

Further, we don’t really know what we’re doing as we tinker with the balancing systems of Mother Earth.

“We don’t know the cumulative effect of our activity, or the secondary and tertiary effects,” said Grant. “We live in an exquisitely balanced ecosystem. We are tampering with that balance in the pursuit of more food production, and we do not know what we are doing.”


If you read any environmental and scientific journals, you may notice that bees and other pollinators vanish from large areas of the United States and the world. Why? We poison them to death! We destroy their habitat. And, today, dramatically change the genetic structure of plants. Insects, birds and other pollinators cannot deal with that kind of abuse! I feel terrible for those tiny, delicate hummingbirds!

Grant addresses pesticides in his book with painful realization that humans ignore such wholesale slaughter of the insect world at great risk.

“To maximize yields, we use pesticides and herbicides to eliminate the competition,” said Grant. “Then we find that the weeds and pests fight back; they develop resistance to chemicals. We are not winning. By one estimate, about 50 percent of world crops are still lost to pests and weeds. Meanwhile, those poisons poison their users. They have been associated with neurological deterioration, skin problems, reproductive disorders, and cancer. One study in Ecuador found 60 percent of the farm workers showing symptoms of pesticide poisoning.”

You can add that to cancer in the United States as it remains our number one killer. When you deposit enough chemicals into the body over time, it results in mutation or aberrant behavior at the cellular level. Voila! Cancer! You may also notice that in the last 40 years, according to a recent report by NBC’s Katie Couric, autism affected one in 2,000 children. As of 2010, one in 160 children suffer from autism.

Just imagine that we jumped into the wholesale use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides right after WWII. When you look at Parts 1 and 2 of this series showing our military and chemical companies dumping countless tons of radioactive waste , mustard gas, dioxins, DDT and other poisons into our oceans, lakes and rivers, along with our soils, well folks, everything that goes around comes back around.


While our oceans suffer our misuse as the final toilet—as you can see, when that ‘toilet’ backs up within the “web of life”, nobody enjoys a free pass. No wonder cancer continues as our number one killer of human beings.

As Grant moves through his book, I am astounded that none of our leaders has listened. None have investigated, but more and more writers expose the details such as Rachel Carson in Silent Spring and Sandra Steingraber in Living Down River. They addressed poisoning our world.

Lindsey Grant exposes the grand scenario of our predicament.

Can you imagine what another 100 million people added to the USA in 25 years will manifest across our civilization?


Denver Post Your Hub March 30, 2010 ##

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