Local View: Overpopulation to blame for climate change's increasing threat
Scientists now say our planet has begun the sixth mass extinction in its history -- and if steps aren't taken within the next 20 years, life on Earth as we now know it will be drastically changed ("'Incredibly grim' report on climate change carri...
Scientists now say our planet has begun the sixth mass extinction in its history - and if steps aren't taken within the next 20 years, life on Earth as we now know it will be drastically changed ("'Incredibly grim' report on climate change carries call for action," Oct. 9).
Planet Earth, at 4.5 billion years old, has the only assemblage of life of its kind that we know about in the universe. A variety of life types didn't appear until approximately 500 million years ago. Since then, the Earth has experienced five mass extinctions, the first occurring 440 million years ago and the most recent ending 65 million years ago with the extinction of the dinosaurs. Mammals, and eventually humans, took advantage of the last extinction event.
Global temperatures have risen 1.62 degrees fahrenheit since the late 19th century. Oceans are warming; the temperature in the top 2,300 feet is up .4 degrees sine 1969. Ice sheets are shrinking; Greenland lost 281 billion tons of ice each year between 1993 and 2016. Sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate. And weather - hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, and even our local daily weather events - has gotten extreme.
The Earth's population of more than 7.7 billion people is resulting in habitat destruction and excessive consumption. Habitat destruction has resulted in the major reductions of many species, except those deemed important by humans as food. It seems clear that the cause of global warming and climate change is overpopulation.
The world's poor do not over-consume, but most would like to. However, the world's very rich do over-consume. New Zealand recently passed laws to prevent the really wealthy from buying large tracts of land on which to construct totally self-contained bunkers in which to survive the possibility of great human turmoil. At least two of the world's very rich are actually working on the feasibility of relocating from Earth to the moon or Mars.
The administration of President Donald Trump apparently has accepted the position that climate change is inevitable. The administration no longer seems willing to spend time or resources to slow or possibly stop global warming.
The population issue would greatly and fairly quickly benefit if everyone in the world had access to and used contraceptives. Unfortunately, family planning does not seem to be a priority, either, for the current administration.
Population and climate soon will move to the very top of critical concerns for the future of life on Earth. Hopefully we can act in time to make a difference - but that will only happen if we Americans elect candidates not currently taking stands opposed to dealing with climate change and population control.
We don't have a lot of time.
John (Jack) Pichotta of Duluth is recognized as the founder of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland, Minn. A former social studies teacher, he became director of the environmental learning center in 1972 when it was located in Isabella. A former social studies teacher, Pichotta coordinated SCARE, or Students Concerned About a Ravaged Environment, in conducting a week-long Earth Day program in Cloquet in 1970.