A Living Breathing Solution to the Problem of Global Warming

2849377969_eceb5a746eBy Brahma dasa, originally published on June 16, 2009.

I live and work near the quaint little town of Boonville in Anderson Valley, which is perhaps Northern California’s most secluded wine valley. Before the winery craze found its way here in the 1970’s, the Valley was a haven of apple orchards surrounded by lovely mountainside pastureland and crowned with majestic California Coastal Redwoods.

Coastal Redwoods still adorn Anderson Valley, but few working apple farms remain. Still, every September Boonville hosts the popular Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show. ‘Apple Jack,’ a bright red apple riding a bucking bronco remains the fair logo even though bulldozers have ingloriously torn away most of the Valley’s apple orchards to make way for the more economically viable vineyards. But ‘Apple Jack’ remains the emblem of the County Fair as a sort of tribute to simpler times—times past when discussions of volatile subjects like agricultural pollution were almost unheard of in this secluded farming community.

On a recent cool spring evening I was among the crowd that had gathered nearby for the screening of the environmental documentary, Home.

During the pre-movie chitchat a friend asked if I had seen Al Gore’s 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth. “Yes,” I said, “but I don’t think Al Gore has that much to say to me personally.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, he made the documentary to alert people to the danger of global warming and to encourage them to do something about it. Gore recommended, recycling, driving hybrids, turning down the heat, using those squiggly light bulbs (compact fluorescent tubes, or CFTs), not smoking, and well, that’s basically it. I’m already fairly educated as to the threat of global warming, and I’m already a non-smoking, hybrid driving, squiggly bulb using recycler, so what would Al Gore have to say to me? Actually if everyone were like me the world would be in much better shape environmentally1.”

“I feel the same about myself,” said Dan, my outspoken, politically-active neighbor. I too believe that if everyone were like me the world would be in better shape. In fact I gave everyone on my list those squiggly light bulbs for Christmas. I agree that Gore’s recommendations don’t go nearly far enough. In my opinion what is needed is a radical solution—a radical solution that is both practical and spiritual.”

“You got one?” I asked.

“I don’t have a comprehensive solution,” he replied, “but I do walk a lot and if everyone did the same that would be a start. If I happen to drive to the market I make it a habit to walk from there to the post office rather than start my car just to drive another block. You wouldn’t believe how many people waste precious energy by making this short unnecessary drive, one that in my opinion demonstrates a lack of awareness and concern.”

Sensing here that Dan and I were about to begin a session of dueling environmentalism I decided to lay all my cards on the table.

“Well I have a solution,” I said. “Actually I am a solution. I am a living breathing solution to the problem of global warming.”


“Yes, I am a solution to global warming. I say this truly believing that if everyone were like me the problem of global warming would gradually disappear. Gore’s efforts at promoting awareness are laudable, but he stops short with his recommendations. Basically he asks us to take the same steps in energy conservation that we have been encouraged to take for the last twenty years. Any nonsmoker who is diligent about recycling and saving energy could be Al Gore’s dream citizen. Unfortunately being on his dream team is just not enough. To solve the crisis people will have to make substantial personal sacrifices, foremost among those would be to give up eating meat and to stop making so many babies—an inconvenient truth indeed.”

Without elaborating on the issue of cruelty, the simple act of becoming vegetarian dramatically reduces energy use, subsequently reducing dangerous emissions on multiple levels. Researchers at the University of Chicago say that the average American can do more to reduce global warming emissions by becoming a vegetarian than by switching to a Toyota Prius, which is presently the most efficient hybrid car on the market.

According to a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization at least eighteen percent of the global warming effect comes from the livestock industry. In the United States over one third of all fossil fuels produced are used to raise animals for food. This includes the energy expended in growing and transporting the massive amounts of grain and soy needed to feed the approximately ten billion animals killed for food in the U.S. every year. These animals are trucked from feedlots to slaughterhouses, trucked again to processing plants, then trucked again to market. All the while huge amounts of energy are used to preserve the meat. Overall it takes from 8 to 30 times more energy to produce meat protein than it does to produce the same amount of grain protein.

Furthermore, farm animals are among the main causes of the destruction of the world’s forests. Presently, approximately 70% of former Amazon rainforest is used for pastureland, and animal feed crops cover much of what remains. According to vegetarian activist John Robbins (of Baskin and Robbins fame), the average vegan uses about 1/6 of an acre of land to satisfy his or her food requirements for a year; the average vegetarian who consumes dairy products and eggs requires about three times that, and the average meat-eater requires about twenty times that. As for water use Robbins says that it takes 108 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat whereas producing a pound of beef requires 12,000 gallons of water. This statistic hit close to home when we read of a proposal to build a slaughterhouse just outside our beautiful Anderson Valley. Apart from stench and a variety of dangerous greenhouse emissions, slaughterhouses produce tons of contaminated bloody water. Mendocino county environmentalists were concerned as to where this bloody river would flow.

These statistics illustrate why becoming vegetarian is often heralded as the most effective personal strategy available for reducing global warming.

However, vegetarianism is not the only change needed. Experts tell us that there is no comprehensive solution to the problem of global warming without simultaneously addressing the problem of overpopulation.

There is undoubtedly a connection between population growth and virtually every serious problem facing our planet today. World population, currently 6.5 billion, is growing by 76 million people per year. According to the U.N. there will be another 2.6 billion people on the planet by 2050. Rapid population growth has placed incredible stress on the earth in terms of energy usage. While we are inclined to blame pollution on faceless entities such as industry, automobiles, corporations, and so forth, ultimately the problem comes down to people—there are just too many of us. People need transportation, homes, jobs, health care, etc., and want a myriad of things that they don’t really need. Needs plus wants multiplied by 9.1 billion people (the projected population for 2050) equals unimaginable energy usage and pollution, the perfect recipe for global warming.

What to do? The answer of course is that people have to stop making so many more of themselves. Lets imagine that by some amazing arrangement everyone in the world agreed to save the planet by instituting a moratorium on the production of more global warmers (people). What would happen?

Well, life expectancy in America is 74 years for men and 79 years for women, but overall worldwide life expectancy is only 64.3 years. If for the next 54 years (my age) everyone in the world refrained from producing more global warmers, then only those who are ten years old or younger today would be alive when the moratorium ended. This age group represents less than 12% of the world population suggesting that if everyone refrained from having children for 54 years then worldwide population rather than increasing to over 9 Billion, would decrease 88% to less than 1 Billion. Imagine the effect that such a decline, or even a more modest decline in population, would have on the environment. If all who remained were nonsmoking, recycling, hybrid driving, squiggly bulb using vegetarians, the sky over Los Angeles would be clear, the rainforests would regenerate, and the world would become whole again.

My friend Dan called for a radical solution, one that was both practical and spiritual. The solution I suggested may be utopian, but it is practical in the sense that anyone can do it. I am just an ordinary person who 35 years ago made the decision to become vegetarian and to refrain from having children. Over the years I never felt inconvenienced by this decision. There are even organizations to help people in this regard. Zero Population Growth (ZPG) was formed to encourage couples to limit family size to two children or better yet to adopt rather than to procreate.

Furthermore, this solution is spiritual in that it calls for embracing the utmost in compassion and self-sacrifice.  Indeed these qualities are the heart of spirituality regardless of what creed one follows.

While radical for most, this idea is simply the normal way of life to me. Dan’s call for radicalism, and Al Gore’s documentary made me realize that any person who was nonsmoking, recycling, hybrid driving, squiggly bulb using, non child bearing, and vegetarian was at the same time a living breathing solution to the problem of global warming.

So, what did I learn from this most recent environmental call to action, Home? Nothing that a less children and more salad won’t fix.

Related Links:

  1. Smoking is an environmental concern not just because of cigarette smoke, but more so because of the tremendous amount of energy the tobacco industry uses in growing, distributing, and promoting their product, as well as the energy expended by the medical establishment in treating illness related to this deadly crop. []

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66 Responses to A Living Breathing Solution to the Problem of Global Warming

  1. I certainly agree with the essence of this article, a decrease in children and meat-eating would do wonders for the world, on many levels.

    One problem arises though: Although there are news stories of women in their 60’s and 70’s giving birth, if the youngest women in the world were 54, it might be difficult to create the next generation 🙂 Perhaps we would wind up with an Adam and Eve scenario, but that did not seem to work out so well…

    • I figure that during the 54-year moratorium scientists will have been working non-stop on the problem so that when the time comes for repopulation everyone will be ready and able to do their duty!

      Indeed, in the Bible Sarah is described as having given birth to her husband Abraham’s son, Isaac, at the age of 90…and even in our times Pregnancy over age 50 has become more possible for women, due to recent advances in assisted reproductive technology, such as egg donation.

      From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_over_age_50

      But heck…if the ratio remains as it is–250 or so births every year in the US to women over 50—than just imagine how easy it will be to find a parking place in San Francisco!

  2. Kula-pavana dasa

    I am not so sure that global warming itself is as dangerous as some people make us believe. There were times in Earth’s history when all polar ice caps melted completely and life was thriving everywhere, including areas previously covered by ice. Be it as it may, promoting vegetarianism and responsible lifestyle is always good, and the doom and gloom environmental scenarios popular today make it easier than ever.

    • “There were times in Earth’s history when all polar ice caps melted completely and life was thriving everywhere.”

      Hmm..??? I’ve heard of the Ice Age but I never heard of the ‘Heat Age’ where did you get the idea that the polar ice caps melted completely?

      When did that happen?

      Is that what Noah’s Ark is all about?

      • I’m with you, Brahma. I’ve been around for a while, but I’ve never heard of such an age. I have heard from some New Age types, I think, that Antarctica used to be tropical, but I’ve never seen any evidence for this. Can you help us, Kula?

    • That is a good point, it is a media induced mass hysteria in my opionion at least the global warming part but it probably will create quite a few vegetarians when all said and done assuming civilization doesn’t completely collapse. Hopefully the government doesn’t get so out of control about this stuff that they end up creating cannibals.

  3. Kula-pavana dasa

    Brahma-ji, here are some links for you:
    You can see that even in recent times (past 250,000 years) there have been nonglacial periods (no ice on polar regions). During the Eocene (33-56 million years ago) there were alligators near the North Pole, and palm trees in southern Alaska.
    The Paleocene saw mangrove swamps near 65 degrees south latitude and palms in Greenland and Patagonia.
    During the Late Cretaceous, no ice existed at the poles.
    During most of the Jurassic, there were not likely to have been any long-lasting ice caps, and during the Triassic no ice existed at either pole.

    Here is a graph showing the Ice House and Hot House periods of earth’s climate over the last 2 billion years:

  4. Kula-pavana dasa

    I tried to post a list of sources a few hours before but it got lost. Here is one link which is quite good: http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm
    Many times in the past the Earth was much warmer than it is today, with temperate forests in the polar regions.

    • Even if that is true what has never happened before is industrial civilization, which has released more carbon into the atmosphere in the last 200 years than in humanity’s entire sojourn prior. There were many indigenous cultures that were able to live for over 10,000 years in one place without depleting the land base they lived on, while industrial civilization has brought about a magnitude of destruction never before seen (extinction rates 100 to 1000 times the natural rate, etc. etc.). Many scientists claim that the oceanic currents (of which the Gulf Stream is a part) will shut down if ocean temperatures rise too much. Some say it already has begun to do so, with the consequences being dead oceans. Dead oceans, dead planet.

  5. Kula-pavana dasa

    High CO2 output by the human civilization is not the worst thing that this civilization can produce. In the past Earth warmed up dramatically without any help from humans and life still thrived everywhere. See here for one such example: http://www.learner.org/courses/envsci/unit/text.php?unit=12&secNum=4

    Some scientists claim that without extra CO2 output we would have been facing another ice age. Somehow that does not appeal to me either.

    So many theories, so little time… The real solution in any case is pushing for a more responsible use of the Mother Earth. If she is happy, we are happy too.

    • Syamasundara Dasa

      The real solution in any case is pushing for a more responsible use of the Mother Earth.

      May I suggest that the solution will dawn if we give up the idea of “using” the Earth altogether?

      It may just be semantics, but if we switched to thinking that we are cooperating with mother Earth in the service of the source of both her and us, our actions would be more organic and naturally responsible.
      At Madhuvan we feel very much obliged to the land and its crop, to the cows and anybody and anything that helps us render some service and contribute to the pleasure of Krsna and Balarama.

      • I think the word we use reveals much about how we think. And I think you’ve hit the nail squarely here. It is the anthropocentric, exploitative mentality that has caused humanity to pollute the planet. Modern industrialized “civilization” as a whole has long since lost any sense of connection to and therefore reverence for that which in reality sustains life here. The earth is objectified and regarded only as a resource to fuel our selfish pursuits while humanity’s relationship and responsibility to the whole is completely ignored. As simplistic as it may sound the solution is there in the first verse of Isopanisad: recognize the source and owner of everything, and take only what you genuinely need.

  6. Some scientists claim that without extra CO2 output we would have been facing another ice age. Somehow that does not appeal to me either.

    And some say that the extra CO2 (due to the greenhouse effect) will cause ocean temps to rise (as I noted above) and that if the oceanic currents stop the warm water of the Gulf Stream will no longer moderate the climate of the Northern Hemisphere, leaving basically all of Europe and much of North America under ice.

    You’re right–so many theories, so little time. And I agree fully that responsible use of the earth is of utmost importance but what exactly constitutes “responsible use” will no doubt be debated. Ford Motor Co. thinks that putting grass on the roof of its truck manufacturing facility is “green” (i.e., responsible use). I think they’re dreaming. But I digress. . .

  7. It’s evident that the earth goes though heating and cooling trends but I haven’t as yet
    read anything about the polar ice caps melting completely.

    Did I miss something?

  8. Kula-pavana dasa

    Yes, you did miss all the periods when there was no ice in the polar regions. Here another link: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mesozoic/triassic/triassictect.html
    “The climate of the Triassic era…There were no polar ice caps, and the temperature gradient in the north-south direction is assumed to have been more gradual than present day.”

    When you look at the first link I posted you will see a graph showing periods of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ Earth. During the hot periods there is no ice on the Earth’s poles. This data is based on very extensive and interdisciplinary research, using a lot of physical evidence from the polar regions.

  9. Yes here this person tries to prove that concerns regarding global warming are a myth using statistical data.

    There are several other studies available that will say that humans contribute very less to the phenomenon of global warming if it all it is being observed.
    So wait and watch before some tragedy occurs. Only tragedy awakens people from slumber and find out about their critical need. That has been true to a large extent in my life too.

  10. Kula Prabhu,

    If we believe these scientists than you are technically right that “the polar ice caps melted completely and life was thriving everywhere” But what kind of life?

    This kind– lycophytes, glossopterids, and dicynodonts

    No people. Where are the people? Don’t we believe that people existed millions of years ago? If so what happened to the people? (I guess I will have to get out my copy of Forbidden Archeology to find out.)

    The next question is what happed to the lycophytes, glossopterids, and dicynodonts?

    Well according to the scientists they were wiped out by—guess what?

    They say: “We know of several mass extinctions in the history of life; the great dying is not nearly the largest! The largest would be the “Permo-Triassic” extinction, between the Permian and Triassic periods, of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. In this obviously catastrophic event, life on Earth nearly was wiped out — an estimated 90% of all species living at that time were extinguished. We are fairly sure that the extinction was due to changing global conditions.”

    So 90% of life on earth was wiped out by changing global conditions—aka global warming, global cooling or global something. Sooner or later global conditions are going to change and we are all going to be wiped out anyway. Right?

    So no need to worry—Accept of course about our quality of life and of course how to put up with so many billion people.

  11. Kula-pavana dasa

    The “Permo-Triassic” extinction did not happen because of people. Most likely it was a rapid climate change due to an asteroid collision. Slow climate change always allows living entities to adjust – the Creation is designed to easily handle such adjustments.

    I never said we should do nothing about the problems facing Earth, but we need to keep things in proper perspective.

  12. For many years I have been zealot follower of ecological movements. But after being in touch with Vaishnavas for a long time I`ve noticed that sometimes high ecological ideas seem lacking something important…
    Personally I`m not very convinced about global warming. Maybe because for several years before the topic of global warming became so popular I always heard about… global glaciacion…
    But whatever scenario is more probable I have one big doubt- how human beings may prevent it? Nature is ruled by powerful forces that are far beyond our possibility to control. Yes we can control emision of CO2. But even if we stop all production and stop even breathing- one big volcano eruption can make much more CO2 than humanity was able to produce in its whole history… It is just law of karma in action…

    We can do one- change our own consciousness and try to inspire others to give up exploiting mentality. It will help us to survive whether it be in tropical deserts or freezing cold. But arguments like: “no children” or “no meat eating” are really not convincing…
    Most children are born in the countries where consumption is on low level. It is first world middle and old age population that is responsible for the damage. And they don`t have many kids.

    And regarding vegetarians- I have seen articles suggesting that the biggest problem in global warming are… cows producing a lot of methane! What a good argument promoting meat eating- “I eat the cow to protect the Earth”.

  13. My view is that global warming is part of government phoney environmentalism scam to keep land and control of resources in the hands of the big military/corporate/banking interests that control the government so they can continue to dictate and control the masses. It is sad to see the good hearted folks get fooled by these things because they really do mean well but they end up doing the dirty work for these corporations and think they are doing it for the environment and they get used in the process.

    My view is that in the Vedas it says the demigods are in control of the environment and it is false pride for humans to think they are in control of the climate of the Earth. When peoples hearts are centered in Krishna then the demigods will supply everything we need so it seems in all circumstances the solution is for the people to become Krsna Conscious but unfortunately in Kali-yuga it seems only a few people are going to do this and chances are the corporations are gonna keep selling hamburgers to people and we will continue to have stupid wars because of the cow slaughter. Hopefully someday we can break free from this paradigm but who knows. I guess it is guaranteed the paradigm will be broken once Kalki avatar appears.

    • Well there are man opinions out there. But global warming aside, don’t you think we are experiencing an environmental crisis that stems from short sighted exploitation of the world’s natural resources? At its heart environmentalism is about honoring the natural order of the world—to honor the sun, the moon, and stars above and the earth below our feet. Honoring the nature of nature rather than trying to control and change it is included within God consciousness. The Bhagavata teaches that the first step in God realization is to see God in nature, to see the world as the body of God—Visvarupa. From pantheism to panentheism perhaps.

      • I don’t see us experiencing that big of an environmental crisis. I view it as more of a media induced mass hysteria government psyop that has convinced everyone we are having an environmental crisis when it seems to me pollution has gone down and on some levels things are getting more efficient.

        I guess it depends on where you are living. I took a drive through Pullman WA and parts of Idaho and it was abolutely beautiful and clean, unreal. I suppose if you are living in a big toilet bowl of a city or something there is an environmental crisis just due to that many people being packed into one area.

        • Syamasundara Dasa

          I wouldn’t say that it’s a scam, rather that the government and whoever is involved has let the environmental situation go down the drain, trying to take the most advantage of it, only to come out as the heroes now that it’s late, and still take advantage of it.
          I heard that the U.S. are going to be forced by law to switch to the squiggly light bulbs by a certain year, which seems such a good thing, but they contain mercury and are extremely difficult to recycle.

        • That is a good point. The government is now trying to position themselves as the heros. That sounds plausible. I have learned from stock trading that whenever the corporate media is hyping something real hard like they have hyped global warming now refered to as climate change they always seem to have some ulterior motive.

        • There are dioxins and many other toxic byproducts of industrial civilization found in the breast milk of Inuit mothers in the Arctic. There is a mass of plastic floating in the ocean the size of Africa. So just because a place ostensibly looks pristine does not mean that the effects of industrial civilization are limited to highly populated areas. The effects are global and far more deadly than most people realize.

        • Citta Hari, Don’t be silly!

          There is not a mass of debris floating in the ocean the size of Africa!

          Its more of a plastic soup—and its not the size of AFRICA—it’s only more or less the size of TEXAS.

          You can even swim in it.

          This plastic soup could someday be converted into a giant oceanic amusement park! The kids would have a great time swimming around with all that swirling plastic while their parents sip drinks lounging on a compacted island of plastic debris.

          What an investment opportunity!

          “There’s no large patch, no solid mass of material. The idea of garbage “patch” or “island” twice the size of Texas, a favorite term in the media for the now-infamous spot in the Pacific, feeds misconceptions, he says. “It’s much worse. If it were an island, we could go get it. But we can’t,” because it’s a “thin soup of plastic fragments.” So says, Marcus Eriksen, director of education at Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, Ca.


  14. Even a cursory review of the environmental movement in the US reveals that its pioneers and principal advocates were hardly media darlings, but rather men and women of principle speaking to deaf ears for decades. A drive through a smidgen of the world’s remaining wilderness may be refreshing but it does not do much to dismiss the data gathered by environmentalists over the last fifty years. If the wilderness could talk to you, what would it say? Would you listen? There are plenty of good books out there written by people that have listened and they are clearly going against the current of corporate America. This seems so obvious it’s bewildering to have to write it.

    • It also seems obvious that Al Gore and these types of corporate banking shill politicians are capitiizing, coopting, and hijacking whatever sincere environmentalist movement ever actually existed. Whenver the corporate media hypes something as hard as they have hyped global warming and now they have changed the name to climate change then it usually seems like it ends up being something not good for the citizenry. I am not convinced that humans are in control of the climate, maybe on a small scale but the Vedas teach the demigods are in control of nature and humans are basically just ants playing around on the material energy.

      I sincerely wish we all lived in some sort of environmental utopia without cars and we all were so spiritually advanced we could fly around on magic carpets but the way the economy and the population of the Earth is structured that is probably going to require death on a massive scale.

  15. Kula-pavana dasa

    I have been working in the environmental protection sector here in US for over 20 years now. While there is a tremendous progress in most areas (the waterways are much cleaner, so is the air and soil) as compared to the 1970’s, the pressure on the environment is tremendous and those gains can be wiped out very quickly by one irresponsible generation. Also, the US is now producing much less, so it is poluting much less as well. Yet in other countries situation can be very different. We all know how it is in India for example.

    I am glad the devotees are concerned about the environment. In my opinion, the attitude that ‘this material world is on fire – there is nothing worth saving here – let’s just get out’ is not very responsible and not very good for preaching in the modern world. We have to lead by example in that area as well.

    • Fair enough but I have never had the attitude that there is nothing worth saving here and forget the environment. I have always lived a very simple life and driven an efficient car, lived within my means and driven as little as possible long before anyone even cared about that stuff at all.

      Even though I am not really a devotee only just an admirer of Krsna Consciousness on that front I have actually have lived by example. Just don’t buy into all the media hype how we are destroying the world and humans are in control of the climate. That doesn’t match with what I read in the Vedas that says the demigods are in control of nature. The way I see it humans have a minute effect on nature but in the big scheme they are just ants playing around on the material energy.

      • The gods or consciousness behind nature contol in relation to how humans interact with her. To say that gods control nature is to speak only partially about the issue. Again, they they do largely in response to human behavior. So if humans pollute the rivers, soil, air, etc. and do not acknowledges that their abilities to act—to see, to hear, etc—are dependent on the macrocosom of nature in the form of the sun, and so on, nature responds in kind.

        So the propaganda is not that humanity controls nature, but more that when humans do not acknowledge nature in her own right and try to control her for their own purposes, often ill conceived, you have an environmental crisis. You have an unhappy earth and she will make her case to the Gods and they will respond accordingly be it an ice age or whatever.

        • I can understand what you are saying but the whole global warming/climate change propaganda seems to me to be centered around this idea that humans are in control of nature and this smacks of atheism to me.

          Also when you look at the players behind it, it is really a depopulation agenda combined with an attempt to create a technocratic elite scientific dictarship where there are two different sets of rules for the elite who will continue to dine on steaks while forcing everyone else to live in poverty until they get the population down to their desired levels whatever that maybe. I read in Prabhupadas books that as long as children become Krsna Conscious there is no fear of overpopulation or anything like that.

          I can see how you can make the case that humanity has become so demonic that it needs to be depopulated for the good of nature but this is not the kind of propaganda I envision Krsna Conscious people endorsing rather continue to urger people to turn to Krsna Consciousness but it is your ship I am just someone who is sympathetic to the Krsna Conscious Movement and enjoy talking to the devotees.

        • Krishsna conscious children will be environmentally aware. They will honor nature rather than trying to change the nature of nature an exploit her resources for selfish or short sighted ends. But not too man children are becoming Krishna conscious. So there may be a population problem. The author of the article under discussion seems to think there is, and he is hardly a member of the “technocratic elite.”

    • “as compared to the 1970’s”

      This is the period during which the environmental movement began to get a footing. So the improvements you note are largely due to environmental awareness, which needs to be continued.

  16. Kula-pavana dasa

    Sometimes the devotees will take statements like: “If fire burns the whole world, do not waste time trying to put it out. All necessities can be met only by serving Krishna” (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta) to mean that there is no need to work on improving material conditions of this world.

    • That is some truth to that statement as people got overboard improving the material condition at the cost of spiritual life.
      At this current moment most people can’t afford sufficient time for spiritual life.

  17. Kula-pavana dasa

    Yes, the improvements in the environmental issues were due to awareness that the environment must be protected. American Indians knew that long before white man did, and this awareness was always part of their spirituality. This type of consciousness must be cultivated in order for the human culture to be sustainable over a long period of time.

    • This type of consciousness must be cultivated in order for the human culture to be sustainable over a long period of time.

      What type of human culture are you referring to? If industrial then by definition that is not sustainable due to its necessity for continual growth and the ever-increasing extraction of natural resources that fuels such “growth.” If you mean agrarian-based culture where humanity sees itself as just one of millions of species in the web of life and acts in such a way as to improve rather than degrade the land, air, and water then I agree.

      • Kula-pavana dasa

        The human culture as we know it includes industrial undertakings. There was industial development even in Vedic times as well. Not some huge factories, but it was industry: mining, smelting, city building, etc. There is no going back to the stone age for human society – no need for it, and no inherent spiritual benefit in such a way of life. I have seen plenty of ignorant and entirely materialistic peasants in my life.

        There is a way to make industrial operations sustainable. The only thing that stands in the way is human ignorance and greed.

        • Human ignorance and greed are a large part of the predicament, but I don’t buy that the absence of these qualities would be a total solution.
          Even if all humans were generous and enlightened, population would still be an issue. It’s pretty widely acknowledged that the sustainable carrying capacity of this planet is around 2 billion (some say less, some say a bit more). The usage of fossil fuels enabled humanity to grow and distribute food on an unprecedented scale, and this availability of food is directly linked to population growth. Without fossil fuels there would never have been almost 7 billion humans on this planet, and with the fossil fuel supply sure to decline sooner or later (some say it already has begun to) while population continues to grow it’s pretty obvious that sooner or later biospheric limits will impose themselves on humanity’s selfish little enterprise and population will decline.

        • According to SP population is never an issue and there is enough for everybody provided by lord. Many devotees toe this line and say there is no overpopulation at all. But I do find that even in nature scarcity induces struggle and survival of the fittest.

        • Interesting that you are a Hare Krishna devotee but you put a limit on the population due to scientific standards. I can understand sticking to strictly scientific standards if that is what you firmly believe in but the Vedas are full of stories of the Lord doing miraculous things for his devotees shrinking and expanding planets etc so if the population of the Earth was mostly devotees at least from a Vedic perspective it seems almost anything is possible.

          I can understand not believing in all that magical stuff in the Vedas or viewing it as allegory but that also seems to suggest that you just view the Vedas as kind of a fairytale which makes me wonder if you are so firmly a believer in science why do you need Krsna Consciousness if ultimately you think the Vedas are either exaggerations or fairytales? Not critisizing here just curious to here your viewpoint and how you come to terms with the seeming incongruity between hard science and the miracles of the Lord in the Vedas.

        • To Gaura-Vijaya

          To be fair to Prabhupada I think if I remember right I read in Prabhupada’s books that there is no limit to the population if the population is Krsna Consciousness but he talks about unwanted population or demonic population and too much unwanted population leads to wars, famine etc so I think you are misstating what Prabhupada said.

        • Kula-pavana dasa

          I see the overpopulation issue to be part of human ignorance. Just like you can’t cram 50 cows into a 5 acre plot and expect to have a sustainable goshala, you can’t cram billions and billions of people on any given continent without running into serious trouble.

          IMO Srila Prabhupada was indicating that once people are Krsna conscious, they will understand what it takes to properly care for a human society and will do the needful. If parents have only two kids, that is quite a sustainable model of society.

        • No SP said that you can have as many kids but you should not use contraception. He preferred that people have kids instead of using contraception and he denied that there is overpopulation . He said the artificial problem of overpopulation is felt in human species but animals are being provided sufficient food to eat by God and have no such problem . According to science or documented history, the above statement is false and it is established that many animals have died due to scarcity of resources and overpopulation in the past even without human intervention.

          My main point is that in SP’s time not many people dared to question his assumptions which would have led him to give a more balanced and reasonable presentation of GV.

        • Here are SP’s words on this matter.

          The supreme powerful is unlimitedly powerful, and practically we can see that the problem of overpopulation amongst the animals is not extant. Just like the elephants, they are not thinking where to get food. Or just like the cats and dogs and hogs, they are producing at a time half a dozen Children or more, so incomparison to them man is producing one child, or two children. Formerly man used to have hundreds of sons, at the present moment a man has got two three at most ten sons. So where is the question of over population?

          We understand from the history of Mahabharata that Dhrtarastra had one hundred sons, but there are many other examples also. Maharaja Rsabha dev had one hundred sons, so they were big prominent men in the history the names of the most prominent men are mentioned. It is therefore safe to conclude that if the King can produce one hundred sons the subjects also can produce one hundred sons, if not all of then at least some of them. So at that time there was no question of overpopulation, we do not find it in the history of Mahabharata.

        • Syamasundara Dasa

          The usage of fossil fuels enabled humanity to grow and distribute food on an unprecedented scale, and this availability of food is directly linked to population growth. Without fossil fuels there would never have been almost 7 billion humans on this planet

          However, this doesn’t explain the fact that the most populated areas on the planet barely have any food or ways to buy it.

  18. Here is the dark side to environmentalism and scientific dictatorships. All these people are calling for everyone else to live in poverty and everyone else to die to save the environment while they continue to live high of the hog so to speak.

    “Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.”
    – Professor Maurice King

    “The big threat to the planet is people: there are too many, doing too well economically and burning too much oil.”
    – Sir James Lovelock, BBC Interview

    “My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”
    -Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

    “Humans on the Earth behave in some ways like a pathogenic micro-organism, or like the cells of a tumor.”
    – Sir James Lovelock, Healing Gaia

    “The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.”
    – Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point (Very similar to a quote from Agent Smith in The Matrix)

    “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells, the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.”
    – Prof. Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb

    “A reasonable estimate for an industrialized world society at the present North American material standard of living would be 1 billion. At the more frugal European standard of living, 2 to 3 billion would be possible.”
    – United Nations, Global Biodiversity Assessment

    “A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
    – Ted Turner, founder of CNN and major UN donor

    “… the resultant ideal sustainable population is hence more than 500 million but less than one billion.”
    – Club of Rome, Goals for Mankind

    “One America burdens the earth much more than twenty Bangladeshes. This is a terrible thing to say in order to stabilize world population, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it’s just as bad not to say it.”
    – Jacques Cousteau, UNESCO Courier

    “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”
    – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, patron of the World Wildlife Fund

    “I suspect that eradicating small pox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.”
    – John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

    “The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing.”
    – Christopher Manes, Earth First!

    “Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”
    – David Brower, first Executive Director of the Sierra Club

    • Many of these statements are simple observations. At present industrially civilized humanity is acting like a virus or a cancer, destroying the being upon which it depends for life. These statements also challenge industrial civilization’s anthropocentrism, for it is the anthropocentric, manifest destiny mindset that has gotten us where we are in terms of exploitation of the natural world–seeing the world in terms of resources to be used by humanity instead of a give and take network of relationships.

      • I guess it comes down to who gets to determine who dies and who lives and who gets to have kids and who doesn’t. Gonna be interesting to see who gets to make these decisions. I personally have chosen not to have kids because I made a determination a long time that trying to raise a child to become Krsna Conscious in this society is too great of a responsibility for me to take on but I would never want to have the power to make that determination for someone else.

        • As far as I know no one is saying who can and cannot have children or how many. And I don’t agree that it comes down to that anyway, because human overpopulation is only one problem brought about by industrial civilization–there is also the toxification of the land, water, and air, and the billions of nonhumans who are members of the ecosystems upon which industrial civilization utterly depends. [The U.S. alone generates 7.8 billion tons of garbage (7.6 industrial, the rest municipal) annually. That’s about 26 tons per person per year.] If things keep going the way they have been then it’s only a matter of time before our own shit kills us (and just about everything else). Population decline, voluntary or otherwise, is a given sooner or later. Probably sooner.

  19. Well, only industrial areas of the world show the real symptoms of overpopulation. What are the symptoms? Violence- crimes, garbage, chronical diseases, epidemies, suicides on rise… It is exactly the same symptoms that any other species show when they have overpopulation. Laws of nature are the same for everyone…

    Therefore it is not so easy to find solution. We though have much more possibilietes than animals to prevent some side effects of population growth and the most powerful is education. But I think no one is able to prevent all side effects. And it is also the law of nature that every civilization has an end… Maybe it is time for this one…

  20. I think you just have to look at two countries where they have made a material utopia, Norway and Sweden. Low crime,no capital punishment, high welfare, no religion,”population declining”, environmental sensitive people,great laws for gays and great freedom for women. This is the ideal of the secular humanism which many people propose to be better than any religion and you can see it in action in these two countries. So they feel any society whether Vedic, ancient Mayan, Christian was never better off in egalitarian ideals and welfare than Norway and Sweden. There is some truth to that and I have never seen as much equitable distribution of enjoyment in the planet in my life. Once you are not fit to enjoy you can go for euthanasia( atleast they plan on that)
    How will these people even feel that there is any problem on earth with so much welfare? They just have to go to Thailand once in a while to beat the darkness in these countries.

    • Material utopia? Ostensibly, maybe. While the countries you mentioned are more equitable for the people who live there the material prosperity enjoyed there is at the cost of poor people in other parts of the world by whose labor cheap goods are manufactured and whose land has been usurped to provide the resources for the manufacturing process.

    • If it is so nice there why do they have so many suicides? Utopias do not exist.

  21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate
    The suicide rate is not as high that people think it to be. I was corrected about it by my swedish friend.

    I am just saying that is best possible it has ever been in recorded history. No problem for gays,women, prostitues etc. All people are treated with dignity. So that is how people say if religion is eliminated more people can move towards this model and enjoy life.

    See the happiest countries in the world in this survey http://www.reuters.com/article/africaCrisis/idUSN30454695

    These countries are where religion is the weakest. So people like Dawkins say less of religion means more of happiness and they have empirical proof for that.. It is the happiest period in western europe in the history of mankind. Compare it to the christian dark ages and even the so call christian pre-dark age.

  22. How will these people even feel that there is any problem on earth with so much welfare? They just have to go to Thailand once in a while to beat the darkness in these countries.

    When the natural systems upon which such welfare relies break down enough (they already are) and going to Thailand is prohibitively expensive then they will have no choice but to pay attention. As will the rest of us.

    • Syama Gopala dasa

      Yes but the norwegians have a lot of oil to run out of before their material happiness starts to suffer.

      • Gaura-vijaya dasa

        That is completely true!!!

      • Oil is only part of the puzzle. They may have a lot of oil at the moment, but how much does their lifestyle depend on importation of finished goods or raw materials to make finished goods out of? Also, if they are as equitable and socially aware as it sounds then they will be concerned about the plight of the rest of the planet as well as the motherland.

        • Certainly you can level that charge but do you think religious people have done better than them apart from “preaching” and more “preaching without practice”? Certainly I am guilty of that too. Otherwise there is always room for improvement and for finding fault. What religious or spiritual people have to do is to build practically a place on the continent where people are doing better because of religion . People in the above countries will laugh if you call this kali yuga. For them it has never been better than this. Gays and women were worse off in satya yuga than kali yuga.

        • It’s no secret that many stupid, destructive, and inhumane things have historically gone on in the name of religion. So no, I don’t think religious people have done better; in many cases they have done much of the damage, as in the case of fundamentalist Christians who don’t believe there is an environmental crisis and who actively support the destruction (as an example they want to drill for oil in Alaska now to satisfy short-term demand and deal with the environmental consequences later (as is the m.o. of industrial society in general). Sad to say but examples like that make secular societies look more desirable.

          Another point is the type of religion we’re talking about. Indigenous religions are intimately connected with the earth and the idea of transcending this sphere of reality is absent–they know they reincarnate but the idea is that they just keep coming back and living here indefinitely. On the other hand most Western and Eastern religions are not primarily earth-based. They focus on “heaven” or an afterlife and so what happens to the planet is secondary. We see this even in our own tradition: after all, if the material world is maya and is a bad place and is to be gotten out of as soon as possible then who is going to be interested in taking care of the land they live on? This is not to say that these religions are inherently anti-earth, because they’re not. But we see that many practitioners of them (Gaudiya Vaisnavism included) have a simplistic understanding of the tradition and so lack the maturity required to live harmoniously on the earth while pursuing transcendence. Their practice ends up being an either/or affair instead of a “both” affair.

          It sounds to me that you are advocating some sort of “heaven on earth” scenario with your idea of religious people doing better because of religion. It may be possible in some isolated communities but I don’t see it happening on any major scale any time soon.

  23. Sweden and Norway have the highest divorce rates in the world, Sweden tops with 54.9%! And a out-of-wedlock birthrate of 66%! I guess how the children fare there mentally – it will have to be seen in years to come!
    And to talk about happiness, I sense that its kind of fleeting, sensual happiness which does not last long, but most people hanker for. Their material prosperity is giving a way to civilization which places pleasure and comfort a priority over anything else! Is this an ideal civilization?

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