176 – The Saddest Thing …

Anyone who has witnessed the eyes of a human being at the moment of death can attest to have seen Life’s departure from the body, leaving in place the indescribable unknown we all must face upon our return to where we came from. But experiences like this, instead of affirming how interdependent Life is, reinforce our illusion of separation from the natural world and veil the reality we seem unable to grasp – refuse to grasp – that we are immersed in an environment that connects us all as participants in the unfolding of the organism we call humankind.

Life is energy in motion, never at rest. It has its own sparkle, its own impetus, its own power to self-renew. We are immersed in a living atmosphere in which we consume and dissipate energy sources to perpetuates our own self-renewal. And when this process cannot be sustained, when the power to self-renew is no longer there, we die – of old age, injury, disease, lack of oxygen, starvation.

Our consumption and dissipation of energy sources impact the atmosphere that supports and dictates our lives. But because we have made Consumption a god – it is the measure of success, the measure of happiness, the measure of power, the measure of control – and because this god demands an ever-growing number of consumers unendingly consuming, we have runaway population growth. We have populated every habitable niche on the surface of the planet and are rapidly and severely altering the chemical balance of the environment in which our lives depend.

Our current world population is at seven and a half billion people. And more than doubling the number of daily deaths at 151,600, with the number of worldwide daily births at about 360,000, * we are projected to reach eight billion by 2023. The chart below shows the speed of our exponential growth.

Years passed Year Billion
1800 1
127 1927 2
33 1960 3
14 1974 4
13 1987 5
12 1999 6
12 2011 7
6 2017 7.5
6 2023 8
United Nations Population Fund 2011 estimate. Two last lines are updated with current information.

The beneficial environment that for millennia has supported our evolution cannot sustain this kind of growth; it is already showing signs of distress (melting glaciers, warmer ocean water, changing weather patterns, decimation of species). We watch these signs dumbfounded – they are so ominous some of us prefer to be in denial.

What do we think Life is? We take it for granted. We grow into Life out of the Earth. And yet, for the benefit of a few, we are overwhelming what gives us Life.

It is the saddest thing.

*Source: Population Reference Bureau & The World Factbook, 2011 Estimate (Central Intelligence Agency)

Revised January 2021   

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