Carbon dioxide has reached its highest concentration, 400 parts per million, in the atmosphere in three million years. The earth is closing in on its tipping point of carrying capacity, the maximum population the environment's food, habitat, water and other life necessities can sustain thanks to modern medicine, industrialization, and mechanized agriculture.
Overcapacity could be avoided if about 3 percent of the population now reduce their footprint by 25 percent, gradually increasing to 50 percent of the people by 2050. The United States has by far the biggest average footprint and other nations are becoming unwilling to carry the ecological deficit. China has higher emission rates but their population is four times greater.
To help reduce the footprint:
- car commuting must be replaced by effective mass transit
- an infrastructure of alternative energy sources must be developed, more wind and solar farms
- national policies must be enforced independent of big agriculture, big oil, and big corporations self-interests
- more coal and oil must be left in the ground; more trees in the forests
- fewer resources must be used and less waste produced
- fewer children must be encouraged
- less meat must be consumed in diets
- more people must plant gardens and buy local seasonal produce
- construction of smaller houses must be increased
- fertilizer and pesticide use must be decreased
- fewer plastics like plastic bottles must be used.
A growing number of Americans are making necessary changes in their personal efforts and encouraging others to do the same. This helps build public awareness but more needs to be done. Much is already subject to public political control but more policies are needed to regulate the efforts. Specific and measurable practices must be demanded for government and corporate accountability. Big changes are needed and people must seriously support them. Just putting recycling out once a week is not enough.
The American way of life is in jeopardy and stands to lose the most when the carrying capacity is exceeded. It will be too late if the solutions are left to our children and grandchildren.