Climate-Change/Global-Warming is a symptom of a much larger problem: exponential population growth. That is, our planet is telling us that it is sick because a germ (i.e., bacteria or virus) is growing unchallenged within it. If we consider somebody who is sick, the body reacts in several different ways, but one of the most effective is to raise the body temperature to kill off the unwanted invader. If we think of Mother Earth in these terms, she is doing the same thing.
For the first 100,000 years of our existence, we lived in somewhat harmony with our surroundings by moving to a new place and extinguishing most of the resources (while some became extinct) and then moving on to a different place. By this method, we could leave a place without much resources and return to it a few generations later and it would have heeled and become sustainable again. With the discovery of agriculture 10,000 years ago, followed by animal husbandry, we were able to thrive in specific areas that could support sustained living for multiple generations. But, our populations remained fairly constant because there was always “something” (e.g., drought, disease, war, etc.) that controlled our population growth. Around 4,000 years ago we developed the wheel, which is the beginning of the exponential growth that we are experiencing today. We didn’t really make the bend in the curve until post Renaissance, with our slow but steady understanding of disease.
Today, many argue that what we are experiencing is logistic growth. Logistic growth, like exponential growth, is a mathematical model based on theory, while the reality is that many sustainable environments go through cyclic periods. For example, if we look at the relationship between snowshoe hares and lynx, we see that as the hare increases population, the lynx also increases. But, the hare eventually increases so high that there is not enough vegetation to support it, so the population crashes, which also causes the lynx population to crash and they cycle to begin anew. The same was true for our species, for a long time, but we no longer have population crashes – our last was the Plague. Without this collective reboot, we are doomed as a species; for just like a virus in the body, we will grow until the planet can no longer sustain life as we know it.
The other option is colonization, but as Dr. Bartlett demonstrates in his eloquent analogy of bacteria in a bottle, we won’t gain more than a “minute” by colonizing a planet with the same resources that ours once possessed. No, the only solution is to stop population growth, and then hope for a population decline.