The Earth Ark Project is intended to to save as much of our modern world for posterity as possible by collecting samples of seeds and other items and storing them on a mountain top in Antarctica where the temperature never goes above minus forty degrees. At that temperature things like seeds when protected from the wind should remain viable for thousands of years. With a single Earth Ark container in position a considrable portion of our modern world could be reconstituted even after global warming or a major war occured.
The problem is how can these things be made reasonable and desirable to enough people to create a viable Earth Ark. It will take far more time, money and effort than I can generate, therefore it becomes crucial for me to create a movement which will have psychological pull on people throughout the world. I have written quite a bit over the last four years about the general issues, but I haven’t succeeded in creating any interest in actually creating an Earth Ark. I consider not generating any enthusiasm for this project to be my greatest failing, because without an Earth Ark to draw upon the world from a thousand years forward will vastly impoverished. Perhaps the impoverishment may happen within ten years or even tomorrow if there was an atomic war, but it is hard to imagine the Earth that we inhabit being as lush, in the far distant future, after what is certainly in store for the not too distant future.
Since moving to Bend, Oregon I have been attending the Unitarian Universalist Church regularly, and one of the traditions of this particular church is to escort the children out of the main meeting room to their respective Sunday school events by singing a sentimental song. In the center aisle the adults form an arch with their arms and the children walk from the back of the room up to the speakers platform and then turn and go out the side door. The scene always chokes me up because the little kids are so cute and the pre-teens are so serious, and I can’t help but think they will never be given the opportunity to live the long and easy life which us older people have been privileged to have enjoyed. Most people seem to think our present world is laden with horrible problems but I see the present as the most beautiful moment in the history of humanity. The simple proof is that our human population is doubling every forty years, and that means that life is very easy because until the very recent past the population was almost static. In other words people were dying as fast as they were coming into the world, whereas in my life the number of people has tripled. We have had plenty of food as well as technical toys to keep us happy.
If these kids live to my age and the population tripled again there would be 21 billion people instead of 7 billion. When I was born there were just over 2 billion. Some people think the population growth is slowing down, and perhaps the rate per individual is slowing down, but the absolute numbers of people increase every year is greater than ever. We have about 75 million more people now than we did a year ago. Some people think that educating women will slow down the population explosion, and it probably will slow it down, but only where there is massive investment in education going to comer from to educate four billion women. Most governments, and the people of the land, don’t want to spend massive amounts of money just to slow population growth. The effort at population control is met with almost unanimous dislike and anger. What will happen without population control is obvious – the population will expand to the food creating capacity of the planet and then there will be shortages and then desperation as the land is scraped bare trying to get short term food gains from depleted land. That can’t last very long and when those efforts are used up there will be massive and unremitting famine until the population drops.
The conclusion is obvious. If all the people of the Earth are not willing to abide by a controlled population policy then there will eventually be a world wide famine. Before that time it will be business as usual. When food prices start going up rapidly and equal more than half the money available to poor people those people will start starving. When that happens they will begin to use armed force to get food and the most effective way for them to do that will be to form armed gangs. To a small degree this is already happening off the coast of Somalia, but in that case the pirates are not after food directly but money from hostage taking with which to buy food. Who can deny a person the right to eat and feed their children? The real indicator that things are going into the critical stage will be when pirates are capturing food transportation vehicles directly. When that happens the trucks and ships will have to be guarded with force, but that will run the price of food up, because the price of the guarding will be factored into the price of the food. That will drive the price of food even higher with a positive feedback cycle developing making everything worse. About this time national food wars become inevitable and if it hasn’t already happened total war and total chaos will break out. The present world of commerce is based on easy and safe transportation of goods, but when that breaks down because it is too expensive the end result will be massive population reduction.
When humanity reaches that painful condition it will be impossible to create an Earth Ark because everyone will be too concerned with short term survival. That is why we need to create it now, while things are safe and people have enough spare time to go collecting seeds from their local area and putting them into containers so they can be shipped.
But, how can I communicate this simple problem to the people of every square mile of the planet, when I can’t even convince a single person?