Overview - Our Precarious Earth Our Precarious Earth and...

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Unformatted text preview: Our Precarious Earth Our Precarious Earth and its Biosphere Milton Saier Professor of Molecular Biology University of California, San Diego [email protected] Population Reduction and Earth Preservation (PREP) honors EARTH DAY - EVERY DAY! One people, One biosphere, One Earth, One future. Visit: http://stuorg.ucsd.edu/~prep Overpopulation • • • • • • The world's population is now about 6.3 billion and it is still expanding very rapidly, despite a marginal slowing over the last couple of years. Every day we share the Earth and its resources with 250,000 more people than the day before; every year, there are about another 90 million mouths to feed. It is the equivalent of adding a Philadelphia to the world population every week; a Los Angeles every two weeks; a Mexico every year; and a US and Canada every three years. Pyramid at Chefren Pyramid at Chefren Mayan Ruins Mayan Ruins Easter Island Easter Island “Discovered” by the Dutch Explorer Jacob Roggeveen in 1722 Barren grassland without a single tree or bush over 10 feet high. Around 2000 inhabitants speaking language of Polynesian origin. Only 47 species of plants (mostly grasses, sedges, and ferns). Native animals included nothing larger than insects. Domestic animals, only chickens. Around 300 statues erected along coast. Heights of 33 feet. Weighing up to 82 tons. Around 700 more in various stages of completion. The largest of these unfinished statues was 65 feet tall and 270 tons. In the 1960s the Swiss writer Erich von Däniken claimed they were the work of extraterrestrial astronauts with ultramodern tools, who became stranded on Easter, and were finally rescued. Archeology Archeology Radio Carbon dates estimate first human arrival around 400 AD, also supported by linguistic research. Garbage heaps have shown that early Easter Islanders subsisted on fish, seabirds, and a large quantity of dolphin. One Mystery Solved One Mystery Solved Palm furnished canoes to hunt dolphin. Palm also provided rollers to move statues from quarries to coast. Ropes from the huahua tree enabled islanders to erect massive statues. Toromiro tree yielded firewood to cook fish, seabirds, and dolphin. Population Population Densities of archeological sites suggest a large population. Archeologists put the population at between 7,000 and 20,000 at Easter’s height, around 1,400AD. Plenty of people to carve, transport and erect the statues. But where did the trees go? But where did the trees go? Pollen analysis shows palm population declining by 800 AD. Just after 1400 AD, the last of the palm trees had disappeared. What happened to the trees? Forests were cleared to plant gardens, build canoes, and to transport and erect statues. Native birds responsible for pollinating trees’ flowers and dispersing their fruit had died out. Disastrous Effects on Food Sources Disastrous Effects on Food Sources No more canoes to hunt dolphin or fish. Dolphin bones disappeared abruptly from garbage heaps around 1500 AD. Soil erosion ruined crops and gave no hope for the forests return. Land birds, large sea snails, and many seabirds disappeared. Warfare and Cannibalism Rival clans began to fight for the dwindling resources. Spear points littered the landscape. Statues were pulled down by warring factions. People took to living in caves for protection against their enemies. As resources dwindled, people turned to the only sources of protein left. First rat bones and then human bones began to make up a larger portion of bones in the garbage heaps. Population Crash Population Crash 1400 AD: Population at its height, estimated between 7,000 and 20,000 individuals. 1700 AD: Population crashed to between one­quarter to one­tenths of its former numbers. 1900 AD: Population was 111. Chaco Canyon’s pueblo was the largest Chaco Canyon structure ever built in North America until the Nineteenth Century’s skyscrapers. 650 rooms 5 stories high 670 feet long 315 feet wide Archeologists have established that construction of the pueblos began around 900AD and occupation ended in the Twelfth Century. Why build a city in the desert? Where did they get the material, especially the 200,000 16-footlong beams to support the roofs? Why did they abandon the city after putting so much work into building it? From Forest to Desert From Forest to Desert The damaged ecosystem was no longer able to support a large number of crops. While natural climate change in the form of a drought was once thought to have been the sole reason for the abandonment of Chaco Canyon it is now clear that the extreme damage to the resource base was also a major contributor. Middle East Middle East Birth place of our civilization. Agriculture, animal domestication, and writing developed here. This area of the world was called the Fertile Crescent, implying an area of abundance. The Middle East and Mediterranean was once a lush mosaic of wooded hills and fertile valleys. So what happened to the So what happened to the Fertile Crescent? Thousands of years of deforestation, overgrazing, and erosion have transformed this Garden of Eden into a dry, desolate expanse. This theory of environmental destruction is supported by contemporary accounts and archaeological evidence. Petra Petra Made famous (in the US) by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Once a thriving commercial center which controlled trade between Europe, Arabia, and the Orient. Now ruins among the sand. The Shift of Power The Shift of Power After the Mideast had overexploited its environment, power moved to Greece, then Rome, then to western and northern Europe. Today the US, Europe and parts of Asia are the top resource­users, but we are not just exploiting the resources of our own area. World Economy and Globalization World Economy and Globalization With the advent of modern international trade and shipping we are no longer limited to using just those resources we have at hand. Our population keeps increasing at a tremendous rate and so does our consumption of resources. We are now capable of literally creating an economic and societal collapse of the entire World similar to Easter Island. Global Warming 1. We add 6 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. 2. Only 1% of this CO2 can be recycled by the entire photosynthetic capacity of the Earth. 3. Most methane production is due to man-related activities. 4. Atmospheric temperatures, previously constant for over a century, are measurably higher than in 1980. 5. There has been no increase in solar yield. 6. Human activities are responsible for this global warming. Our Temperature Buffer 1. Glacier National Park: 1900: 150 glaciers 2000: 35 glaciers 2030: 0 glaciers 2. Worldwide, we are losing our ice caps and glaciers. 3. Their loss is clearly related to human activities. 4. When they are gone, atmospheric temperatures will skyrocket. Consequences of Global Warming 1. Elevated atmospheric temperatures 2. Loss of glaciers, ice caps and their ecosystems 3. Increased ocean levels, decreased land surface 4. Altered flora and fauna; species extinction 5. Increased drought, evaporation and humidity 6. Loss of our current agricultural land 7. Facilitation of disease transmission Drug Resistant Pathogens 1. Drug resistance in bacteria is becoming a major human health problem. 2. Some enterococci and staphylococci are resistant to all known antibiotics. 3. Many human diseases are re-emerging with increased virulence. 4. New human diseases are arising, probably by jumping from other animals. HIV: A New Human Disease 1. HIV probably “hopped” to humans from another primate. 2. Billions of dollars have been spent on HIV. 3. HIV is currently the best-understood virus. 4. We still have no cure. 5. We still have no vaccine. 6. Treatment is costly with severe side effects. The Oceans The water is still there! But: 1. the level of pollution is significantly increased. 2. the fish populations are reduced, often to <1% of normal. 3. thousands of species are already extinct. 4. One-third of coral reefs worldwide are dead, one-third are dying, and only one-third are still healthy. 5. Few of the causative agents of coral diseases have been identified, so we have no cure. Marine Statistics: San Diego Sea Life Large Fish off the San Diego Coast 1. Before 1920, large sea bass, cow cod and groupers over 6 feet in length were caught off the San Diego coast. 2. None has been seen in the area for at least 20 years. 3. Cow cod are down to 1% of their original population world wide. Cow cod, extremely long-lived fish now perhaps at 1% of their old level Long sustained sea bass fishery before gill nets Wally Potts and a large black sea bass, early 1950s Fishing intensity inside Point Loma, early 20th Century Green Turtles in San Diego 1. In 1920, San Diego was a canning center for turtle soup. 2. Huge Green turtles were numerous in the San Diego Bay and nearby coastal areas. 3. After depleting the supply, the canneries went out of business. 4. No one has seen a full sized green turtle in the area for several decades. Turtle fishery for turtle soup processing in San Diego Holding ponds for turtle soup processing in San Diego California Lobster 1. Large Californian Lobsters were still plentiful in San Diego in the early 20th century. 2. They were caught for their tails, which were canned. 3. The San Diego Historical Society photographed huge fields of lobster skeletons, piled up to three feet deep. 4. Today, a lobster is caught on the average about eight times before it is legally large enough to keep. 5. The largest specimen found today are only a quarter of their mature size. Size of lobsters in the 1950-60s Fields of lobsters to be canned in San Diego Abalone in San Diego 1. In the early 1950s, the ocean was covered with abalone. 2. A competent commercial diver could get two tons of abalone in a single dive. 3. Five species were prevalent: white, red, pink, green, and black abalone. 4. Today only the reds are left, and their population has been reduced to about 5% of its original size. 5. No one has seen a white abalone for years, and the blacks and greens are in serious trouble. Abalone under a ledge “pavement” of black abalones; probably like all abalones pre exploitation Males and females must be close together (a few feet) to reproduce; need to live in aggregations to reproduce and must have spatial refuge from fishing such as from reserves Patches and large animals gone and very little recruitment since 1970s The Biosphere: Observations 1. 2. 3. One species is destroying the environment for all living species on Earth. That one species causes the extinction of ~50,000 other species every year. The population of that one species is far in excess of what the Earth can sustain. 4. That one species is bringing about its own eventual extinction. 5. Yet that one species values and protects its own members above all others. The Biosphere: Critical Conclusions and Questions 1. Man is a cancer to planet Earth. 2. The only cure for that cancer involves population reduction. 3. Irrational thought prevents implementation of that cure. The question is not whether there is intelligent life in outer space, but whether there is intelligent life on Earth! 1. Can we act rationally? 2. Can we control our population? 3. Can we fit into Nature without destroying her? WHO: Every day 1. 100 x 106 human couples have sexual intercourse 2. 106 of these result in conception (100%) 3. Half of these are unplanned (50%) 4. One-quarter of them are unwanted (25%) 5. One-tenth result in attempted abortion (10%) 6. One-third of the attempted abortions are illegal (3.3%) 7. 500 women die from these illegal abortions every day Carl Djerassi: In most cultures, social ideology favors reproduction. 1. Parents of young people want grandchildren. 2. 3. Young people strive to “fit in”. Social and religious institutions promote the one traditional lifestyle. Many industrial enterprises benefit from an increase in population. 4. 5. Others play on the family theme. 6. Alternative lifestyles are ridiculed. 7. The psychological health of individuals is not considered. We need “Reverse Propaganda” We need to counteract: 1. parental pressures 2. peer pressures 3. archaic social and religious institutions 4. commercial propaganda We need to promote: 1. 2. 3. 4. personal freedom individual mental health diverse lifestyles social responsibility Population Reduction The world population must be drastically reduced in order to: 1. prevent human suffering (disease, starvation, etc.) 2. curtail species extinction 3. minimize global warming 4. minimize environmental pollution 5. prevent eventual human extinction Restricting the Birth Rate The only effective and humane way to reduce the human population is to restrict birth worldwide. Possible approaches include: 1. education 2. encouragement of alternative lifestyles 3. making birth control methods available 4. making abortion freely available 5. restricting family size 6. requiring qualification testing for parenthood The Slogan Approach 1. Regarding overpopulation: “Protect the Earth, don’t give birth.” 2. Stressing reproductive choice: “Maybe no baby?” 3. To promote creative lifestyles: “Create, don’t procreate.” 4. To promote leadership qualities: “Be a leader, not a breeder.” 5. Concerning pollution: “Be resolute, don’t pollute.” 6. Regarding global warming: “More CO2? Yike! Let’s bike and hike.” A Potential World Community? 1. All humans belong to one species and are >99% identical at the genetic level. 2. Yet, we are constantly in conflict (a) as individuals, (b) as families, (c) as countries, and (d) as groups of similar religious faith. 3. The four great social evils that hinder formation of an effective world community: God, Country, Family and Ego. 4. These are the forces that divide us. Priorities Environmental issues are more important to mankind and the biosphere than terrorism, war or individual human life. Many of our environmental problems can be traced to our excessive human population. Yet the U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars on “home security” and military while spending almost nothing for human population control and environmental protection. PREP PREP Population Reduction and Earth Preservation Visit: http://stuorg.ucsd.edu/~prep email : [email protected] ...
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This note was uploaded on 06/06/2011 for the course BILD 18 taught by Professor Saier during the Spring '07 term at UCSD.

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