Snuff It #3
Confessions of a Heretic
I feel that you're mistaken in your definition of earth pertaining to the
top few meters of arable land or water. First off, I'm not sure how much
you know about "world" agriculture. Ever been to a Mexican or
African farming system and compared it to the US/Europe methods? Third
world countries' agricultural methods are not usually adequate to feed their
needs so they receive crops from elsewhere. Of the arable land that is
presently used there, production can be dramatically [Should be:
"temporarily" -Ed.] increased with better husbandry techniques,
superior seed lines and choosing the most productive crops. Biotechnology,
in regards to standard soil-grown crops, is only capable of increasing
production at incremental levels (1-5%), while advances in tillage, post-
and pre-site care, fertilization, pest management, harvest methods, etc.
will allow the earth to continue to produce enough food for the growing
population over the next century or so. Intensive farming needn't mean
destruction of precious topsoil, as has been demonstrated in the midwest
and Europe. [Ah, Earth to Gamma-Ray, please adjust your transmitter, we
are not receiving you... -Ed.] Also, if demand truly increases, the way
we presently use our land will change. As you know, support of our modern
source of food animals requires lots of space and resources. If meat demand
goes down, which it probably won't, that land can be used for vegetable crops.
Also, there's a lot of arable land out there that is presently unused for
food-production. As population demand rises, rainforests, mountain steppes,
the great Canadian Basin, the Soviet Tract, etc. will all be plowed over
and planted with agrosnacks. Species diversity will plummet, yes, but human
survival will increase...
There is more than one way to grow a strawberry. Due to advances in
technology, soil will become less necessary over time. The basic needs of
your average plant are: carbon source, vitamins, nitrogen source, water,
antibiotics, elicitors, support structure, light. Soil environments presently
provide these, but soil is not inherently necessary for all life. I could go
on for a while, but won't. Production of food is not a problem, access to it
is. The body politik and personal selfishness deny access. Would you be
willing to give up all that you have, in terms of resources, and be content
to subsist in a desert so that 10 others who are now subsisting in the desert
can live another 20 years and make 50 more babies? Luck, also known as drift,
plays a huge role is the chances of one's survival. You got the long end
of the stick and I don't imagine you'll be giving it away any time soon...
Exactly what defines harmony, anyway? Are you implying that one set of
lifestyle circumstances is better than another? Nonsense. Who's to say that
good 'ol Americans driving along in plastic cars to plastic malls to buy
plastic food is any less harmonious than a person on a horse, riding through
a canyon on a cloudless starry night to visit a lover by the sea? Both
situations strike images, mental music if you will, and thereby "sound"
different. Peaceful nature scenes have a certain quality to them, but so does
the construction of a spaceport. Both "feel." There is music,
harmony, beauty in everything. Yourself a musician, I am surprised that you
don't appreciate that. The smooth flowing rhythms of the last centuries will
soon be replaced by the staccato, random, often painful symphonies of the
near future. The Earth and our relationship to it is constantly changing,
will always change. Such is the nature of life. To stand still is to die.
To strive and conquer is to survive.
[The bottled water] already is [poisonous] (checked it for DDT lately?).
The mass accumulation of toxins in our environment is forcing us to evolve.
[Should be: "devolve" -Ed.] Because we are unable to biologically
evolve, we will (and have) evolve(d) socially. Modern medicine has been in
the business of keeping bad genes alive to reproduction age. And by bad
genes, I mean those individuals unable to survive in our presently toxic
environment. If "nature" were allowed to take its course without
human intervention it would take out a good chunk of the population in coming
generations. Right now, medical technology is being used to treat people
for diseases/manifestations that would never have arisen were it not for the
presence of toxins in our environment. I think, over time, you will see
such selection for "toxin-immune" genotypes among population
groups without access to medical care. In reality, those who survive will
be more fit in the long run.
I am simply stating the following as fact, not intending to shock, nor am
I one who is pleased about it: We have not yet begun to rape the Earth.
You are obviously well read and cognizant. In the end, though, we differ
in a very fundamental way: you view mankind's present actions as a destructive
end while I view them as a necessary means to a higher future. And by higher,
I mean spiritually, biologically and socially. In the distant future, we
will reclaim much of the Earth that we are about to scour. The Earth is
a stepping stone for mankind's destiny, not its final destination. Earth
is not my mother and I refuse to live at home for the rest of my life.
See you in the stars, my dear.
-Alex K., Gamma-Ray, P.O. Box 4117, Ithaca, NY 14850
We get a lot of bizarre mail, but this is without a doubt the most
frightening letter we have ever received. In the words of the immortal Walt
Kelly, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." If it didn't
frighten you, read it again, and if it still doesn't, please drop this
magazine in the nearest recycling bin. We'll let Dr. Erlich handle the
obvious lunacies about escaping to outer space...:
A British physicist, J. H. Fremlin...has made some interesting calculations
on how much time we could buy by occupying the [other] planets of the solar
system. For instance, [at the current rate] it would take only about 50
years to populate Venus, Mercury, Mars, the moon, and the moons of Jupiter
and Saturn to same population density as Earth...It would take only about
200 years to fill [the remaining planets] "Earth-full."... What
then?... Using extremely optimistic assumptions, [Professor Garrett Hardin
of the University of California at Santa Barbara] has calculated that
Americans, by cutting their standard of living down to 18% of its present
level, could in one year set aside enough capital to finance the
exportation to the stars of one day's increase in the population of
-Dr. Paul Erlich, The Population Bomb
index #3 ·