During my bicycle trips around the world over the past 40 years, I've met a few outstanding human beings from many countries. In Antarctica, I met an unusual artist named William Schimmel. He painted extraordinary landscapes with a plethora of animals decorating the icy world in which they live.
One evening after dinner, we sat at one of the tables in the Galley Building #55 where all the workers ate three squares, drank coffee and talked about the latest scientific studies “on the ice.”
During my stay in Antarctica, I attended lectures every Wednesday night to learn as much as I could about humanity’s adverse impact on the world.
As I held up my tape recorder, Schimmel spoke to me candidly. “Antarctica has come to symbolize the last of the wild places. But no place is sacred in man’s eyes. In this pristine wilderness, greed would still find a haven for devastating industry. With a planet full of beings such as ourselves, event he stars aren’t safe.”
Our conversation still grinds in my craw in 2013. While I wrote for the Antarctic Sun newspaper during my stay on the Ice Continent, I interviewed many top scientists, especially the “climate change” experts studying models on how carbon footprints warmed the oceans.
Years later, we saw Hurricane Katrina and Sandy sporting 200 mile per hour winds. We watched tornadoes rip up the countryside in January around the United States. Drought-stricken areas hosted wildfires that consumed everything in their paths.
Today, we hear multiple reports about humans encroaching on wilderness habitats. According to the world’s top extinction expert Dr. Norman Myers at Oxford University, we lose 80 to 100 species daily to extinction. Schimmel’s sobering words intensified my emotions about our grim future.
More sobering, California’s population projections show an added 20 million before mid-century as the state will increase from 38 million to 58 million. With all its current gridlocked traffic, crammed cities and air pollution, no one steps up to the TV or radio microphone to ask, “Does anyone have any ideas how we will be able to water, feed, house, work and transport another 20 million people?”As our human population accelerates by one billion every 12 years, we displace more wilderness habitat. In Florida with 18 million humans in 2013, projections show it reaching 36 million—a scant 37 years from now. Florida’s population growth has put its birds, lions, alligators and marine life at risk.
Of note, the Department of the Interior reported that the Colorado River — which already supplies water to 38 million people — will be unable to meet future demands because of population growth. On top of that, the National Marine Fisheries Service recommended adding 66 species of corals to the Endangered Species list because population growth is driving them to extinction. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service projects 36 million acres of American forests will be lost to sprawl by 2050.
In my conversation years ago at the bottom of the world, Schimmel may have made an understatement as to humanity’s ability to wreck this planet. While the stars may be safe from our onslaught, the planet isn’t. I hope you take time to spread the word about www.CapsWeb.org and encourage all your friends to join to change the course of history toward a viable planet for all living creatures.