For some reason this number makes me despair.  Here I am thinking about biking to work again.  I use estate sales to buy some of the things I want, clothes, kitchen stuff, tools, partly because it's cheap and partly because it's true recycling.  I put in energy efficient bulbs.  I keep the heat turned down.

 

Meanwhile the human race is reproducing like bunny rabbits.  Is any individual effort even remotely meaningful?   Should I care about the next wave of floods and storms and droughts killing off a hundred thousand at a sweep?  Should i hold back on charitable giving for medical care to the destitute, and spend it on a trip to Vegas?

 

I don't know what's right, or what's humanistic.  The human race is pretty much like a bunch of pigs in a pig sty, and are rushing headlong to self destruction.  If we consume every thing in site, drown ourselves in our own shit, and continue pumping out litters of babies, why should I even try?  How do I know what's right and what's wrong?

 

My 2 cents.

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For me it's largely about seeing what I value being taken away, and feeling completely unable to do anything about it  - a beautiful planet with diversity of species, humans with some hope of living lives without poverty and scarcity (never happened before, I know, probably never happen anyway), the world essentially turning into a pigsty.  

 

If I could invent a virus that would spread like the flu, and result in 95% infertility, with no other lasting negative effects, would I?  Yes.  People would have to take care of themselves in their old age, but the world overall would be better.

 

But that is a fantasy and wont happen.  I just feel like my own efforts are futile in light of how small I feel in front of the word "billion".

 

As is happens, a lot of things that are good for the planet are healthy - living close to work, walking or bike commuting, those reduce risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and are psychologically beneficial.  Frugality, such as buying 2nd hand goods, tools, etc, means more security for the future.  Organic gardening, composting kitchen and yard waste, all healthy and pleasurable.  But I feel Im fooling myself to say it will matter to "the planet" or to humanity.

Your post reminded me of Population Biology and issues regarding carrying capacity. I posted a few things below about the subject.


Relation to Sustainable Scale
The concept of carrying capacity is well rooted in biological science, and describes the rise and decline of plant and animal populations. It clarifies that there is a limit to the growth of any biological population, and identifies some of the parameters that determine the pattern of population rise and collapse. Additional layers of complexity occur for the human population in terms of the dynamics involved.  Human choices are needed to ensure we imitate a K rather than an r-selected species.
 
"…carrying capacity is determined jointly by human choices and natural constraints. Consequently, the question, how many people can the Earth support, does not have a single numerical answer, now or ever. Human choices about the Earth's human carrying capacity are constrained by facts of nature which we understand poorly. So any estimates of human carrying capacity are only conditional on future human choices and natural events." Joel Cohen
http://www.sustainablescale.org/ConceptualFramework/UnderstandingSc...
More information on population biology:

http://www.sustainablescale.org/conceptualframework.aspx
What is the "Scale Problem"?
Scale problems refer to the threats posed by economic activities to global life support systems such as the atmospheric ozone layer’s protection against ultraviolet radiation, and the carbon cycle’s provision of climate stability. Human economic activities are now threatening these natural systems at both the local and global levels, for the first time in the history of the planet. (See Understanding Scale for an introduction to scale concepts and the dynamics of relevant ecosystems).
 
Why is the Scale Problem Important?
Scale problems are pervasive and unprecedented. The life support systems addressed by the scale issue are essential and irreplaceable ecosystem services that literally make life on earth possible. If these life support services are damaged beyond repair, then human civilization as we know it will collapse. There are currently many scale related problems that are unprecedented in human history, and that will irrevocably damage these life support functions if not corrected. (See Importance of Scale for a discussion of the various reasons why scale problems are of vital interest).
 
What Are Some Examples of the Scale Problem?
The A, B, Cs of the scale problem are
Atmospheric Ozone Depletion (which is allowing harmful ultraviolet radiation to reach the earth’s surface)
Biodiversity Loss (which is removing species 100 to 1000 times faster than at any previous time in the history of the planet)
Climate Change (which is threatening to disrupt global climate stability upon which all life depends).

Any one of these major global system changes would be a challenge in itself, but they are occurring together, and each is affecting the other. There are many other life support systems which are threatened in addition to these better known ones (see Areas of Concern for a more complete list of these major areas of concern).
This is why I feel despair.  Not only are humans barreling headlong into making the Earth a less livable place for humanity, and questionable quality and length of life for those who follow - and even who are here today - we are taking the other species down with us.   What a shameful creature we are.
lets see.... take the bait!  don't take the bait?  nahhhhhh.

Yet, we are also the only creature with the capacity to leave the earth. If an (large enough) asteroid were to hit and destroy most/all life on earth than the phenomenon of organic (and sentient) life may forever die out in this small corner of the cosmos. If humanity were to spread away from earth (and this solar system) then we will actually be doing the most which we could to preserve life. The problem is there's no guarantee we could be able to successfully leave before destroying ourselves.

 

There is too much uncertainty in this world to rest easy.

I like the idea that you can reach down to pet your dog, and make the world just a little better than it was before. Focus on the things you can change.
children are more juicy and tender, up until high school years.  if you barbecue them young, you can save a huge expenditure of resources and texting bills.  dogs are excessively chewy.

Korea and NE China has a chain restaurant that features St. Bernards.   They grow them especially for dumplings.  We could do the same with children.  With proper herbs and spices people would get over their remorse, and they're not as gamey.  If people would just get over the "cute baby syndrome", they would have another popular food for all sorts of uses.  Not every deer is Bambi, and not every baby is cute either.   Jonathan Swift went into great detail regarding the eating of Irish babies, but I think in this day and age we should be more diverse.

 

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragou"

I wouldn't start with poddles I would suggest a young Chow - much easier to chow down on. :>}

how does petting one's slave improve the world?

Sentient- Great Post.  When I bring the population topic up with friends they say, "Well, would you like to die to help decrease the population?"   Stupid question. Birth control requires no one to die.

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