More than once in China, under a gloaming pall of poisonously polluted air I have watched oceans of people flood the streets and shops of Beijing or Chengdu or Guangzhou acquiring the material goods that they hope might improve their lives, and thought to myself "We're screwed. The earth just can't handle this."
In "Unrealized Horrors of the Population Explosion," Clyde Haberman beats an obsolete, dead horse, repeating observations made over past decades that Paul Ehrlich's predictions of horrors stemming from our exploding population have not come true. His misplaced focus masks real, constructive discourse on overpopulation and promotes overpopulation denial.
Forgetting the real world is never a good omen. It always come to mind. It is therefore urgent to reconnect with it. It is even what we should first teach to children: Commodity consumption should no longer be the ultimate goal of our societies, and all work should be an art of creation. We are far from it.
A key question as we make the long transition to a sustainable and renewable economy and culture is the role of individual responsibility and personal lifestyle. In the end, our individual behavior as "consumers" adds up to the crisis of sustainability, but the causes of this crisis are far from simple.
Propertyless and under-capitalized Americans sense and experience that they are less secure with prospects for good incomes that they can rely on to support themselves and their families, but they feel helpless to do anything about their plight and continue to struggle on day by day, month by month.