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Editorial: Earth's real problem not an easy one to solve

Over decades and centuries, people have philosophically examined their plight and cast blame for their circumstances. At times, it has been religious persecution, disease, famine and world war. Today, many believe global warming is the root of mo...

Over decades and centuries, people have philosophically examined their plight and cast blame for their circumstances. At times, it has been religious persecution, disease, famine and world war. Today, many believe global warming is the root of most problems, from Hurricane Katrina to California wildfires.

Dig deeper, though, and a more significant issue emerges: excessive population. For a short time in the change-filled 1960s and 70s, a movement called "Zero Population Growth" had its day. It didn't last long, but it should have.

  • Many factors that fuel global warming occur primarily because the ecology is stressed by excessive energy demand -- for cars, homes and factories. That demand grows daily as the population expands.
  • Areas like New Orleans and southern California suffer so badly from natural disasters because too much humanity is packed into an unsuitable space. New Orleans was substantially altered by man so people could reside in an area that once was covered by water. Similarly, southern California hills have become dotted with housing, which is incompatible with regional climate conditions.
  • Oil prices are skyrocketing because demand far exceeds readily available supply. As countries like China increasingly join the industrialized world, wars could emerge as countries desperately try to satisfy their citizens' energy demands.
  • Highly populated desert cities increasingly are facing water shortages, suggesting help should be offered by the Great Lakes region.

Coming to grips with the problem will be difficult, perhaps impossible, because any number of potential solutions would be in conflict with beliefs held by a variety of religions.
But as scientists and sociologists have found, bad things always happen when you stuff too many rats in a cage. No doubt, if man doesn't address the issue, Mother Nature will do it for him -- as we're already witnessing.

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