7 billion plus of us, and growing daily, on this vulnerable Earth. The Buddha pinpointed the problem.
Our numbers on this Earth grow and grow and grow. And then grow more. When the Buddha walked on the Earth 2600 years ago, around 250 million people lived on the Earth.
In the 14th century, scientists estimate the world population had increased to 370 million people.
By 1790, our numbers had reached 790 million.
By 1880, world population touched one billion. And the numbers go up and up each year.
2 billion in 1927 (47 years later)
3 billion in 1960 (33 years)
4 billion in 1974 (13 years)
5 billion in 1987 (12 years)
6 billion in 1999 (12 years)
7 billion in 2013 (14 years )
8 billion in 2028 (15 years – projected)
The demands of our species on our small planet have reached unbearable levels. It is no wonder there are famines, draughts, floods, fires and environmental waste. The UN predicted that future wars could be over drinking water rather than land
In a Sunday newspaper article, StephenEmmott, author of 10 Billion wrote (in summary):
It takes 3000 litres of water to produce a burger.
UK citizens consumer 5 billion burgers in 2012
It takes 9000 litres of water to produce a chicken.
UK citizens consumed one billion chickens last year.
It takes 2700 litres of water for a kilo of chocolate.
It takes a 100 litres of water to produce a cup of coffee.
20 billion cups of coffee were drank in the UK last year.
We threw away nine billion plastic water bottles in 2012.
That’s 36 billion litres of water.
It takes 72,000 litres of water for the chip in a computer,Ipad, phone, car etc.
By 2050, only 36 and a half years away, the world population will have grown beyond 10 billion people – all needing , as the Buddha commented, the four basic requisites – water/food, clothing, a place to live and medicine. People also want a job, want to get an education, want to have kids, want to travel, to play, to enjoy the arts and experience pleasure, be happy and feel secure.
The massive increase in population and our demands upon resources through agriculture, production of goods, transportation, consumption and more production, produces massive increases in greenhouse gases with the 10 warmest years recorded on our planet occurred during this decade.
We live in a political/corporate system that blindly and irresponsibly promotes economic growth. We see the latest expressions of this through fracking, a means of gas extraction deep underground with various risks involved from earthquakes, to water pollution and gas leaks impacting on local communities. Scientists believe gas extract will support energy needs for 25 years. And then?
The world’s farmers currently are able to produce just enough food to feed the current world population but sadly the distribution of that food remains unequal with more than one billion people in the world classified as obese (i.e. more than 20% above average body weight for the person’s height) and one billion remain underfed. The vast majority of obese adults and children are the poor living on a diet of junk food infected with addictive amounts of sugar, salt and fat provided by multi national food chains whose first priority (desire) is making profit rather than concern for health.
The Buddha addressed the human issues 2600 years with a small population living entirely on a healthy, nutritious organic food with clean rivers, small towns, a working infrascture and an active commercial life.
He pinpointed the psychological problem behind the gradual destruction of the Earth. DESIRE. He said it takes wise intention, letting go, love and compassion to dissolve the desire to consume. It is the collective task of our species.
Our politicians and corporate masters with their obsession with the perpetuation of desire (called growth) belong to the era of dinosaurs, a collective of prehistoric creatures, utterly ill-fitted for the contemporary reality. Scientists report to us that our energy consumption needs (desires) require fracking, clearing of rainforests , increasing use of land for farm animals and exploitation of the seas. This approach speeds up every forthcoming disaster.
We have a single agenda to tackle this unpredented issue. Consume less, desire less and find happiness outside of consumption.
The Buddha put out this message 2600 years ago. It mattered then. He produced a generation of happy men and women living with their wordly goods (spare set of robes, razor, water filter etc) all held in their hand to show that happiness had no relationship to consumption.
The words of the Buddha mattered during his lifetime. They matter even more today.