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It was very interesting to watch the most recent episode of  Horizon  where David Attenborough spoke about the grim projections for the world population and its potential impact on our planet.

How recently it was that the number of people topped 5 billion people in the late Eighties – now we are already almost 7 billion. The fact that the resources to sustain this quantity of people are finite means that there are only that many more people who can be accommodated before we run into serious trouble and start fighting for food. Arguably in some parts of the world this process has already started.

In fact, as some scientists think, we have already over-stretched the Earth’s renewable resources beyond the point where they can regenerate (severely depleted Atlantic fish stocks spring to mind straight away) and hence are already living beyond our means. In other words, there are already too many of us about.

There is a maximum limit of people that can be sustained, which can be calculated with reference to their average demand for consumables and the total “productive capacity” of planet Earth. The methodology of calculating these figures obviously is extremely important and I am sure there is no total consensus on the figures – and also hot debate around how these are derived. David Attenborough argues that the “lifestyle” of existing humans is all-important. If everyone wanted to live like US consumers, our planet can only sustain 1.5bn people. If we lived like Rwandans, then it is 18bn.

It’s a scary thought, and one that personally has been on my mind for a while. Whilst we all carry on living our reasonably easy lives in a consumerist society we don’t worry about the impact this is having on our world on a daily basis. So what is one to do? Surely we won’t all give up our cars, nice holidays, stop buying clothes, or quit our jobs so that we can tend our plots and grow our own vegetables.

This brings me to another thought which has already been debated on this blog. The biggest impact humans have on the environment – in terms of our carbon footprint or our demand for scarce resources – is by having more children. After all, by bringing another one kid into this world we create another human being which will end up consuming comparable amounts of “stuff” and creating comparable amounts of “waste” which will have an overall impact when taken en masse.

So whilst after watching Horizon I did indeed started feeling a renewed sense of guilt that I don’t ride a bike everywhere, or have recently indulged myself by buying a few new items of clothing, I guess should I console myself with the fact that since we don’t – and probably can’t – have children, we are sort of doing our bit for this planet, or at least not creating extra future consumers.

Hmmm.

Maybe the planet has found a way to self-regulate its population, and that is infertility of its creatures at the top of the food chain. Wise move, Mother Nature!

CuriouslyInspired

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Today is a historic day for the US – a convincing victory of Barrack Obama, the Democratic candidate, in the race for the White House. Hail Senator Obama, the future first black president of the USA!

Even as I write this, I know it should not matter what colour the face of the winning candidate is. Maybe it will matter less going forward, now that the USA have come this far – but it seems to matter a lot today. So it’s a victory for racial equality, amongst other things. And this alone would have made it a historic day.

Politically and economically, this victory gives the US a chance for change. And it gives the rest of the world a hope that the US will show us a different face. We hope that the USA will stop interfering in other countries’ political affairs, stop being aggressive and act as a policy-maker around the globe. It does not own the world – so we would like to see it behaving like an equal to other nations.

We would like the US to take concrete environmentally-conscious steps and set an example for tackling global warming and investing in alternative energy technologies. Many have paid lip service to this matter in the past but not much has been done. We make no mistake, this is a huge challenge which needs to balance the need for ongoing economic development of the country with ways to make it much greener, fast. But now is the time to step up and really do something.

Last night, US citizens have chosen change over more of the same. It is up to Barrack Obama to lead them through to change he has been talking so eloquently about during his campaign, and to inspire the whole country to adopt the new ways.

Governments can only do so much. It is the electorate that often makes it happen. Senator Obama has scored an unprecedented victory last night which shows he has the support to make change happen. We have seen historic pictures of people queuing up to vote in this election. The Americans have come out in their millions and said that they have had enough of the status quo of the previous presidency. Don’t waste this chance, Obama!

Will Barrack Obama stay true to his ideals once he is in place? Will he change the face of the USA on the international political landscape – or sway under pressure from various lobbies and moderate his election campaign principles? Many have fallen victim to pressure in the past.

Only time will tell whether Obama will stay strong and see through his inspirational ideas. We hope he does – and that today we have seen the start of the new era for the US and the world.

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