greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,
greygirlbeast
greygirlbeast

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"No moon, no pale reflection."

We awoke to a dusting of new snow.

Yesterday, I managed to write what might be the first 1,255 words on the prologue of The Wolf Who Cried Girl. I won't really know if I'm on the right track until I read it again today, but I do have some faint hope of finishing the prologue this afternoon. Unless I have to throw these words out and start anew; I am having a great deal of difficulty finding the tone of this novel, finding its voice.

But yeah, a much better day, as far as writing is concerned.

Also, well...there is some really cool news regarding the Audible.com adaptation of The Red Tree, but I haven't yet asked permission to share it, so that will have to wait. But...it's cool.

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Also, yesterday I started reading "A reevaluation of the manus structure in Triceratops (Ceratopsia; Ceratopsidae)" and finished Alan Weisman's brilliant The World Without Man (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007). It's not an easy book to read, even when you already have a pretty good idea how much human beings have loused up this planet. And yet, despite the catalog of extinctions and poisons (including dioxins which will still be here when the sun finally novas, billions of years after humans have finally become extinct), it is a book laced through and through with hope. Because it calmly and with good science assures us that life on Earth will continue long after Homo sapiens is gone, even if Homo sapiens will have forever altered the course of evolution. As marine biologist Eric Sala put it (quoted by Weisman), "If the planet can recover from the Permian, it can recover from the human." And that is a comforting thought, indeed. I strongly urge you to find and read this book, and again I thank David Szydloski for kindly sending me a copy.

There is a passage I would like to quote, if only because it tackles a problem that virtually no one is even willing to discuss, even as we see ecosystems collapse and the climate change accelerate, that of voluntary human population control:

"Yet the biggest elephant of all is a figurative one in the planet-sized room that is ever harder to ignore, although we keep trying. Worldwide, every four days human population rises by 1 million...

The intelligent solution would require the courage and the wisdom to put our knowledge to the test. It would be poignant and distressing in ways, but not fatal. It would henceforth limit every human female on Earth capable of bearing children to one.

The numbers resulting from such a draconian measure, fairly applied, are tricky to predict with precision: Fewer births, for example, would lower infant mortality, because resources would be devoted to protecting each precious member of the latest generation. Using the United Nation's medium scenario for life expectancy though 2050 as a benchmark, Dr. Sergei Scherbov, who is the research group leader at the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and an analyst for the World Population Program, calculated what would happen to human population if, from now on, all fertile women have only one child (in 2004, the rate was 2.6 births per female; in the medium scenario that would lower to about two children by 2050).

If this somehow began tomorrow, our current 6.5 billion human population would drop by 1 billion by the middle of the century. (If we continue as projected, it will reach 9 billion.) At that point, keeping to one-child-per-mother, life on Earth for all species would change dramatically. Because of natural attrition, today's bloated human population bubble would not be reinflated at anything near the former pace. By 2075, we would have reduced our presence by almost half, down to 3.43 billion, and our impact by much more, because so much of what we do is magnified by chain reactions set off through the ecosystem.

By 2100, less than a century from now, we would be at 1.6 billion: back to levels last seen in the 19th century, just before quantum advances in energy, medicine, and food production doubled our numbers and then doubled us again. At the time, those discoveries seemed like miracles. Today, like too much of any good thing, we indulge in more only at our peril.

At such far-more-manageable numbers, however, we would have the benefit of all our progress plus the wisdom to keep our presence under control. That wisdom would come partly from losses and extinctions too late to reverse, but also from the growing joy of watching the world daily become more wonderful. The evidence wouldn't hide in statistics. It would be outside every human's window, where refreshed air would fill each season with more birdsong."

Of course, I do not believe this is remotely possible. Weisman is essentially correct, in theory, but I think he vastly underestimates humanity's hardwired need to reproduce, and reproduce, and reproduce, even if reproduction, ironically, means its own present misery and premature extinction (and that of so many other species). He ignores selfishness and short-sightedness. He ignores greed. He ignores all those countless differences in religion and ideology that keep humanity divided and always at one another's throats. Ultimately, it is a solution humans are neither smart enough nor humane enough to choose. But it is a grand thought, that human beings would willingly step back from the precipice and start putting things back together again.
Tags: audiobooks, extinction, planetary murder, population, reading, snow, the red tree, werewolves
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