It has been almost two years since I have attended any formal, in-person meeting. The Covid-19 pandemic converted agricultural and vector-borne disease conferences to virtual platforms, as it did with many other sectors of business. When I received word that we were resuming travel and business as usual, with some restrictions of course, it was as if I was released from jail. Hotels were booked, flight reservations were made, and meeting agendas were prepared. In the past, I have somewhat dreaded travel and lengthy, corporate discussions, especially during hunting season, but I was looking forward to seeing colleagues and getting back to normal after this debauchery we have all been enduring. So, off to the Westin in Lake Mary, Fla.
Dawn came to life as we lifted off from Jackson, headed to the first layover in Atlanta. The sunrise was full of fire and slowly gave way to pristine, blue skies as the jetliner headed east. For most of the trip, I was treated to a spectacular view of a seemingly endless sea of crisp air. I noticed change though, as we made our final descent into the bustling city.
A heavy hue of smoke-like fog covered the atmosphere above the large metropolis. It had definitive boundaries and you could tell from above where the heavy populated city met a more sparsely populated countryside. I remembered the word that is so descriptive from decades ago, Smog! It was as if someone had drawn a line separating the two vastly different environments. For all practical purposes, someone had. It was us! My mind began to ponder on what I was witnessing.
For the past several weeks, representatives from countries all around the world have gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference also known as COP26, (Conference of the Parties.) More than 25,000 delegates from 200 countries are meeting for the 26th time to discuss a world overheating. The conference comes as alarm as the earth’s climate reaches a new high. With rising unprecedented disasters, blamed on greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures, all eyes are on world leaders wondering if progress can be made on issues such as climate finance, coal use, and methane emissions. The Paris agreement goal to keep the global average temperature from rising 2.7 degrees F is not on track and is predicted this rise will reach or exceed this number within the next two decades. So, what is being blamed for this “rise” in temperature that has this highly debated subject so close to “combustion.” To be fair, let’s look at each alleged culprit leading to climate change and see if they have merit to possibly causing damage to Mother Earth with consequences of staggering sea-level rises, devastating floods, record droughts, and widespread species loss.
Coal is a major source of energy across the world. Not surprising, coal is also a major source of emissions. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of COP26, has called on developed countries to stop using coal by 2030 and for other countries to phase it out by 2040. Coal discussions have always been contentious, and it was no different at this summit. There has been a failure to agree on a date to stop using coal by numerous countries. China and India, which in recent weeks have suffered energy crises due to coal shortages, have also resisted committing to eliminating coal. By the way, China, India, and the United States are the world’s largest users of coal.
In addition to discussions about reducing coal use, agriculture was discussed as a major source of emissions and numerous countries have pledged to give more than four billion dollars for transition to sustainable agriculture. The goal is to transform an agroecology from mass production into a sustainable system that works within natural boundaries thus reducing the need for fuel, chemicals, fertilizers, and other commodities that leave a carbon footprint when produced. Keep in mind, we have 7.9 billion people in the world that need food and clothing. Hold that thought before I let the cat out of the bag on what the real culprit of climate change is.
Methane was discussed extensively, and more than 80 countries signed up to a pledge to cut emissions by 30% by the end of the decade. U.S. and European leaders conclude that reducing potent greenhouse gas is crucial to be able to reach the goal of 2.7 degrees limit of warming. Australia, China, Russia, India, and Iran did not sign the deal. Hmm, quite interesting, wouldn’t you say?
We continue to blame many sources for climate change, and this is assuming you even adopt the theory that there is climate change. I am not trying to sway you either way, that is up to you to decide. Are the horrific weather events we are experiencing just cyclical? Could global “warming” just as easily change to global “cooling” in the next decade, century, or centuries? I am not suggesting anything, I’m just opening discussions for thought provocation. Now to my theory as to the real culprit of climatic change.
As mentioned earlier, our planet’s human population hovers just over 7.9 billion people. Following the greatest tragedy the United States has ever endured, The Civil War, the human population of our country was just over 31,000,000 people. Keep in mind also that we had just lost approximately 5% of the male population from the carnage of war. Now, 156 years later, the population of the U.S. at the time of this writing is 333,638,537. This equates to 10 times the population than it was just a century and a half ago. Also, keep in mind, the land mass of our nation is the same.
Do you know what the population of China is? Try 1,446,872,560, also at the time of this writing. By the way, this number in the billions, represents 18.47% of the total world population. Take India, with a population of 1,398,420,577. Again, a country with a population in the billions representing 17.7% of the total world population. Do you see where I am headed?
We, mankind that is, are reproducing and crowding ourselves out of house and home. Think of the nutritional demand on our resources to produce food. This takes energy and a lot of it. This energy, in turn, has ramifications possibly linked to global warming. I should say, and I will, this energy needed to sustain man, has a profound impact on our world, again, if you believe in climate change. Keep in mind, land mass is not expanding. We just continue to expand in numbers, create more heat from carbon dioxide emissions, add pollution to the environment, and eat ourselves out of house and home. So, I ask you, whose fault is this? Here’s where it gets tricky, and some of you may be offended, but here goes.
Due to the uncontrollable desire of man, reproduction that is, we are ruining the world. Just like compound interest, man, and other animals, are no different. All populations can spiral out of control. And that’s what we have not only done but continue to do. See, I told you this was a touchy subject. Remember, our own country has increased 10 times in numbers in a short 150 years. What will the population be in 50 more years right here at home? Remember, compound interest. What will China and India do? What will Africa do? Where will everyone live? Where is there land mass to be found that will sustain everyone? Who will produce enough crops and protein to feed everyone? What happens with wildlife when extreme populations explode and reach beyond carrying capacity of the land? That’s right, huge die offs. Could it happen to us? Of course, it could, after all, we’re all beasts in the eyes of the Lord. Now think about this!
Is it possible a “pandemic” could wipe out half of the world population to get it back in line with Earth’s carrying capacity? You bet it is! Maybe COVID-19 is a test to see if it will get the job done. What other catastrophic plagues may be lurking beyond the shadows that would make Covid seem like a runny nose? When coyotes and racoons exceed carrying capacity, distemper and mange will virtually wipe them out leaving only a few to regenerate. They then come back healthy and strong and thrive until once again, something controls them and knocks them to their knees. What I have described is not novel and I know many have discussed it. Do you think mankind has enough sense to control ourselves and our destiny? I will answer that emphatically with a huge NO! We won’t learn until some tragedy strikes again and for a brief moment, we may try to do something to mitigate carnage, but as usual, we will slip back into the ranks of complacency and repeat the mistakes that will keep us in a quagmire. Thoughts? Ideas? Anyone?
You may be thinking this is supposed to be an outdoor column. This is the perfect outdoor article as it applies to our own existence. Everything is related and if the planet degrades, so will nature and our beloved outdoors. If Mother Earth flourishes, so will the birds, the bees, and all living creatures, including man. It’s up to us to ensure that we not only protect but enhance our ecosystem and world. Do you think we’re up to the task? Well, I guess time will tell.
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.