Recently the Kansas City Star reported that the Ogallala Aquifer, “A vast underground lake beneath western Kansas and parts of seven other states could be mostly depleted by 2060, turning productive farmland back to semi-arid ground.” Citing the same study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Washington Post reports that drought conditions and thirsty crops have been causing farmers to pump ever-more water from the aquifer at a rate which will not be able to be replenished for perhaps thousands of years. If farmers in the Midwest don’t begin taking drastic measures, their grandchildren might be living in a true “Great American Desert.”
The problems of water over-usage are not limited to the Midwest either. The Colorado River, the most endangered waterway in America and the most litigated river on the planet, will most likely face water shortages in the near future. It was recently reported that the water delivery from the Colorado River will most likely have to be cut by 2016, and with the Colorado River Basin serving roughly 40 million people, a number expected to double by 2060, the future looks very dry. Not only is providing water for households and farmers an issue, but lower levels on the river will cause problems for southwest cities which survive off the hydro-electric power produced by massive dams on the river.
I could go on, citing other stories about over-mining the earth, over-taxing its limited resources, over-harvesting the planet we call home, but I think this makes the point. If the only reasons aliens would invade planet earth is to exploit its natural resources, then I think we’ve got nothing to worry about, because we humans are doing a good enough job of that ourselves. As an Op-Ed columnist wrote, we’ve got to save (the earth) from us. Sustainability and thinking green have become buzz words over the last decade, and for good reason. Humanity cannot continue to live at its present rate of consumption indefinitely into the future. The earth cannot sustain it.
Throttling back our consumption is particularly unpopular in America amongst the big-business capitalists, who have thrived off of humans consuming as much as possible, while also getting to those raw materials to create such as goods as cheaply and irresponsibly as possible. America basically lives with the idea that there will always be “more,” which I think this has been part of the national psyche since the early settlers, when the rationale was of “Manifest Destiny” and a wide open wild west, ready to be conquered. I find it particularly troublesome when politicians speak of leaving our children and grandchildren with massive debt yet show no concern regarding the earth with which we will leave them to live on.
Whether the earth runs out of resources first or rather our reckless pursuit of resources ruins vast sections of earth to the point of it being uninhabitable, the future looks very bleak if we as humans do not change our level of consumption. Sustainability is not a dirty word, it’s just about living within our means, being reasonable, and trying to leave our children and grandchildren a safe, healthy world to live