It was 20 years ago that Paul Simon crooned, "the Planet groans every time it registers another birth." (Graceland, 1986) That year we were a mere 4.9 billion-people planet. The latest figures (2005-2006) estimate the global population at 6.4 billion.
Now, reluctantly scientists involved in the global warming discourse have added population growth to the list of contributors. Al Gore, Bill McKibben, The Washington Post and others in the environmental community list population growth among the top ten issues we must tackle.
I have yet to see or hear, however, any approach that can reconcile a couple's profoundly personal decision to procreate with the impersonal bureaucratic approaches to population control. Nor have I seen, outside of China's long standing policies, any government advocate control of its own population. Rather the trend seems to be that industrialized countries focus on stemming growth in developing countries, reflecting paternalistic and nationalistic sentiment about curbing new births.
We are in such a bubble of denial. I wonder what event will precipitate a paradigm shift in the Nations' approach to population growth. It will not be reaching 7 billion or 8 or 9. It won't be a great famine or weather-related disaster. It won't be a flu pandemic. I wonder what will burst our bubble.
I wonder if it will be a photograph.
In 1969, we first saw the Earth. No longer did we depend on imagined artist's conceptions. We saw the real thing through a lens. As many have recounted, the real image of the earth brought out truths no mathematical or literary descriptions could.
Today, we depend on huge numbers, statistics, and analogies to envision our population. It would be impossible, in fact, to actually count the people on the Earth or to see them all at once. Perhaps some smart person can overcome these challenges and illustrate in a meaningful way --perhaps using the wonders of digital photography and video, peer networking and the (Semantic?) Web--how our Planet groans. If we can indeed all come to understand the same truth (just how big is 6.4 billion?), then we might have a starting point for this conversation.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
photo credit gadjoboy
It's a very white one at our house. 18 inches of powder at 4pm. Outside the window a sheet of white gauze hides the rest of the natural world. No trees. No mountains. No sky. No sun. Just snow, snow, snow.
Inside sniffy noses and occasional fits of "boredom" give way to masterfully designed forts, illuminated Valentine's cards, and smells of fresh bread in the oven.
We are all recovering from flu and regretting not having had the energy for the last week to make and send cards to all we love. Hugs (and hearts) and kisses!
photo credit Butterflysha
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I can't remember what part of Winnie the Pooh this comes from. There is a Mr. Busy-Backson who is always running to the next thing. That was me today:
- I was up at 5...
- studying for a half hour,
- making lunches,
- making coffee for the magnificent spouse (He loves my coffee; therefore he is manificent.),
- breakfast - more studying (usually time for a run, but it is -1 F outside)
- off to Kuruna's neurologist (studying while we waited) Done at 12:30
- off to an interview (mine - far away, studying just before) there by 2:30; home by 5,
- back to cook dinner,
- kids to bed,
- folding laundry with Satya (no really, she loves this),
- violin practice with Satya (don't ask me how my piece is coming...),
- studying, and
- thank yous to prospective employers.
"His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee's experience
Of clovers and of noon!" - Emily Dickinson
photo credit Iwona Kellie