Life on the human planet

Focus on the essentials of life, and you’ll discover that one important element is “community.”


A week ago, I wrote an article on the Essentials of Human Life. I concluded that these essentials are “air, water, energy (which includes both heat and light and cooling where necessary), shelter, nature, sustenance (food), transportation, communication, health, cleanliness, community, pleasure, and learning.”

These are the things that can make life a pleasure. But not in our days today.  “Our world, I am thinking, is no longer a real one. It has become a surreal world, a world of irreality, ever since Donald Trump was elected President.

“But surrealism has become reality more recently, as we suddenly begin to stay at home in order to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The result has been a crash of the jobs market. As jobs disappear, the economy begins to drizzle away. We can no longer go to bars or restaurants or meetings, political and religious and literary gatherings transfer from meeting rooms to virtual meetings, and we can no longer hug or kiss for fear of transferring disease. And lurking in the background, behind all these immediate problems, is the reality of climate change, which Trump considers to be a “hoax.”

“For those millions of us who support Bernie Sanders in a struggle to replace Trump, that fight has seemed to disappear and he has gone into the hinterland, leaving Joe Biden as the only one remaining against Trump.

“What will happen? No one knows.”

I started watching the documentary, “Planet of the Humans,”  “a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day—that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road—selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late. “

This is a pretty depressing film. I’ve watched most of it. Human population is just under 8 million. It’s interesting that COVID-19 has  just reared its head and cut down on population some. Ironically, this may help . . . . some.

Are there things to be done in addition to techno-fixes and band-aids? Yes, I think so. If humanity could start reducing the number of children produced to 4 children to every 6 parents, I calculate that our world population overall should drop by a third in 60 years. That would bring us down to 5.3 billion, which would be good. There is a second thing that will help, and that is the increase in AI and robotics. If we reduce the youth in the population, we are going to need help in taking care of the elderly, and AI/robotics will help. Finally, we need to find ways to cut down on carbon emissions. I think that more “sharing” would help. One big change would be sharing vehicles for transportation. 

Americans are just terrible at this. We have 838 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people. Denmark has 438. If the government owned all the vehicles and we just rented them, we would probably need only 300 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people. Individual ownership makes money for the auto and oil and gas businesses, but it destroys the planet.

There are lots of other changes possible (e.g., stop eating red meat; stop printing books; put all communication on the internet and get rid of paper mail and paper newspapers). What will this do? Put a lot of businesses out of business. But we will be needing workers if we cut down on the young population. If Americans stopped being greedy and started thinking about the true essentials of human life, we would dump money as a thing that makes life important and move onto other things.

For those of you who think that capitalism is the answer, I’m sorry. It isn’t. To misquote Ronald Reagan, “Capitalism isn’t the answer. Capitalism is the problem.” 

Then what is the answer? Focus on the essentials of life, and you’ll discover that one important element is “community.” People who help other people deserve to be celebrated, and we should work on celebrating them. Take, for example, Michael Bloomberg. He’s a smart guy, and I think he wants to be celebrated.  But he puts his emphasis on money. On the other hand, consider Tom Steyer. He also has money—not as much as Bloomberg, but he seems to put more emphasis on community, and that’s good.

To make humanity more humane, and to save our planet for our children, we need to form a coalition. We need to look at what we consume and ask if we really need it. We need to find ways to look at all human beings as our friends, and we need to ask them to look on us as friends. We need to stop trying to take advantage of one another. We need to find the good in others, as well as in ourselves.


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