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September 11, 2010

An Aging Global Infrastructure & Human Numbers

The explosion of a thirty inch gas main that devastated an entire neighborhood in the quiet San Francisco suburb of San Bruno two nights ago and the spectacular collapse of an important bridge across the Mississippi River on August 1, 2007 had a lot in common: each represented the sudden catastrophic failure of a modern structure that had functioned without incident for decades and long been taken for granted. Both happened early on a Summer evening as people were heading home for dinner, and both could easily have been much worse in terms of the number of lives lost.

From my perspective however, none of those considerations begins to express the significance of the two events, which is the degree to which our species has overpopulated its home planet and is now racing headlong towards its ultimate destruction. Because I’ve sounded that alarm on this blog so often in the past with so little noticeable effect, I’m under no illusion that this time will be any different; however, I still find it difficult to resist pointing out the obvious, particularly in a setting in which the whole world seems so intent on its denial.

To advance the original comparison just a bit further; each structure had, in its own way, remained out of sight while carrying out functions that had become increasingly critical to the growing populations they served. Such failures, no longer rare, are inevitably followed by investigations, finger pointing, and attempts to assign blame and compensate victims, none of which can ever be entirely satisfactory. In some cases, a valuable lesson may be learned and incorporated into future planning. However, the problem of population growth is almost never mentioned, particularly in poorer nations which often have the largest vulnerable populations and the least disposable wealth.

That we now may be entering a prolonged deflationary period (Depression) can only make matters worse.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 11, 2010 05:50 PM