Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Who is to blame: The fish or the farmer?

In many places of the world, our environment and climate are in big trouble. Who could deny this fact? It has existential implications, indeed. But who is to blame?

Often, we hear that humans are too selfish. They would be a serious threat for the future of our planet. “Indeed, humans are enemies of humanity”, we are told.[1] But is this really true, or is it propaganda?

For the sake of illustration, let us assume that you are a farmer and that you own all kinds of land, meadows and forests, creeks and lakes. And let us also assume that you fertilise your meadows, perhaps a little too much....

Then, the following will probably happen: Fertilizer will eventually end up in the lake. Hence, the algae will grow like crazy, and the fish population will explode. At least for some time. Eventually, however, the lake will run out of oxygen. The fish will swim in droves at the surface – belly up.[2] So, many of them will die! This is well-known.

Figure 1: Fish dying of oxygen depletion[3] (Image credit: Oregon State University).

Now, the crucial question is: Who is to blame for this disaster? The fish or the farmer? Of course, the farmer! No one would ever think of accusing the fish for multiplying. It was the farmer who over-fertilised the lake. The fatal outcome was entirely foreseeable. And there are applicable laws to punish such behavior.[4]

Figure 2: Development of the population size as a function of the carrying capacity[5] (Image credit: Mississippi State University).

When it comes to humanity, however, we find that it is not the "farmers" (representing business [wo]men) who are being blamed, but the "fish" (standing for the people). Strictly speaking, the "farmers" often accuse the "fish". This is, of course, absurd!

Figure 3: Projected developments for the world according to the Limits to Growth[6] (Image credit: The Oildrum). 
It is wrong to scapegoat us, the ordinary people, who largely do what we are told, for the world's crises. For example, we are blamed for buying cheap plane tickets – not the airlines that sell those tickets! And not the advertising companies that hammered these products into our brains – using psychological tricks that are close to psychological abuse.

We have already consumed less during the financial crisis. But the economy learned to manipulate us more effectively through personalised information. They didn't shy away from using “mind control methods.[7] They hacked our brains to boost consumption and the economy. And now we are being blamed for this? Seriously? 

Figure 4: Carrying capacity of the world over time[8] (Source: M. Wackernagel et al.[9]).

Why shouldn't those be punished for environmental crimes, who have done the same to humanity as the farmers above have done to the fish?! Mainly for profit, they have over-fertilised the planet, by boosting a carbon-based economy. It was entirely predictable that this would cause over-population (see Fig. 52). Without the irresponsible global expansion of the oil-based economy, such "population explosion" would never have happened

Figure 5: Correlation between energy consumption and world population10 (Image credit: Penn State University).

The predicted sustainability crisis is nothing else than a crisis of the oil-based economy – and the petrodollar, in a sense. In the early 1970s, when the Limits to Growth report appeared, the ecological footprint of humanity was still in balance with the planet (see Fig. 4). But afterwards, energy consumption around the world was irresponsibly expanded – even per capita![10] This is reckless!

 Figure 6: Energy consumption per person over time10 (Image credit: Penn State University).


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