Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

it's a big planet . . .

but subjectively shrinking. Many people have wondered if all the recent news about earthquakes, and now a volcano, means that something unusual is happening to the thin skin of solid rock we all float around on. (I have read that if the earth were shrunk to the size of a basketball, the solid crust would be the thickness of a postage stamp.) According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the frequency of strong earthquakes around the world has not been increasing.

However, the human population has gotten a lot bigger, and a lot more urban, in more places, in a very short time. Remember, earthquakes don't kill people: buildings do, when they shake and fall down. The result is that a lot of cities are now more or less in the situation of Port au Prince, including Tehran, as Robin Pomeroy reports for Reuters. You may have read about the Friday prayer leader last week who blamed earthquakes on scantily clad women, but Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, whatever craziness may pertain to him, knows better. Quoting Pomeroy's story,

Like the people of San Francisco, Tehranis know their sprawling metropolis is due for a massive earthquake. In Iran, where building standards have not advanced as quickly as the population, some estimate millions could be killed or maimed. In an Islamic society where disasters are often seen as acts of God, Ahmadinejad told housing officials they could no longer rely on the power of prayer to save Tehran from annihilation.

"Tehran has 13 million inhabitants. If an incident happens, how can we manage it? Therefore, Tehran should be evacuated," said Ahmadinejad, a former mayor of the city, announcing financial aid for people who move to towns with a population of less than 25,000. "At least 5 million people should leave Tehran," he said.

Obviously this is not going to happen, but if it were somehow enforced, it would be an economic, social and ecological catastrophe in itself. The fact of the matter is that we humans have gotten ourselves stuck, badly jammed up in a lot of ways all at once. There are just too damned many of us and we can't make it work.

That's a cold fact.

Oh yeah, there's also this: The combined global land and ocean surface temperature anomaly for March 2010 was 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average, resulting in the warmest March since records began in 1880. Of course, this is all a fraud -- it's part of Obama's secret plot for Communist world domination.

1 comment:

C. Corax said...

Yes. It is interesting to see otherwise sane people attempt to argue that the world's population is sustainable. Short term, yes, it is, but we'd need to cut every forest and tap every clean water source.

Sustain this:

Big planet indeed, but not big enough.