ecostory 5/2007 E D F
Anniversaries - Gedenktage - anniversaires
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In January 1642, that is 365 years ago, Galileo Galilei died. He was forced by the Church to officially denounce the scientific standpoint that the earth rotates around the sun.
In 1992, that is 350 years after his death, he was rehabilitated by the Catholic Church.
This year it's 35 years ago that a book 1) drew the attention to the fact that the earth is a sphere and that its resources are therefore finite.
On 19.1.2007 it was one year ago that my grandson was born and 91 years ago for Mrs Renée M. Both have been living in very different worlds.

In 1916, when Mrs M. was one year old, the world had this size.

At that time the planet had a population of approx. 1.6 billion people. There were no cars, no fridges, mobile phones, nor TV, automatic washing machines etc. 90 years ago the resource footprint of each citizen was only a fraction of today's.

My grandson tried to grab the scale model when my daughter took the photo on his birthday in 2007.
This is the relative size of our earth today - much smaller since the world population now amounts to 6.6 billion, four times more.

Meanwhile our production and consumption has reached a multiple of 90 years ago. As a matter of fact our planet has become as battered and despoiled as the small sphere in between my fingers illustrates.

Our resource footprint is overloading the earth's carrying capacity in almost all environmental aspects, space, water, pollution, energy, minerals, biodiversity, fish stocks, etc.
Again, my grandson tried to get hold of this fascinating new thingy.

But alas, the globe flipped away from my fingers and gone it was!

It happened unintentional. This part of the photo sequence was not planned.

Similarly our opinion-leaders do not consciously plan to reduce the earth to nothing.

Most of them are well respected people, parents and grandparents.

But what do they know of the real environmental situation and the outlook? What do they really know of the feasibility of the "solutions" they promote to stop climate change, for instance, and "meet the needs of future generations" whilst pushing for more growth and therefore more environmental depletion?

How long will it take the discipline of economics to recognise and admit that the earth is indeed finite and growth a suicidal programme?

Yes, this is me, trying to eat the globe after I finally got hold of it.
1) Limts to Growth, 1972, compare ecostory 17-2004
Copyright notice: We have reproduced our shrinking Earth without commercial purpose.[top]

Note: "Resource footprint" is not the same as the widespread notion of "ecological footprint". The latter only considers the consumption of biological i.e. renewable resources. This is often forgotten and the ecological footprint model is therefore misleading.
The resource footprint comprises all resources that humanity consumes, water, topsoil, minerals, biodiversity, fish, a normal climate, and so on. I have no measure for the weight that we exert upon the planet but it is absolutely sure that we have overshot the earth's carrying capacity by far. Most of these non-renewable resources are being depleted at a very high rate. Once gone, they can never be replenished or recreated. They will be gone forever, leaving nothing for my grandson.

Therefore, instead of expanding our production and consumption, we will have to contract and reduce our weight upon the earth.

Helmut Lubbers ... 26.1.2007 - E D F
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