Saturday, September 12, 2020

Gazanias, Beans and Another Population Screed

Our gazanias are finally blooming up a storm, despite only intermittent direct sun. We're supposed to get much warmer temperatures at the beginning of next week -- into the mid-80's (F) during the day. They ought to be happy with that. Our canna lilies put out some buds, but then the temperatures dropped and they never flowered. I think the buds are dead now, but we'll see.

Did you see the news about the recent WWF/ZSL report that found humanity is destroying wildlife and wilderness areas at an unprecedented rate? Wild animal populations have dropped an average of 68 percent since 1970, and an astonishing 94 percent in Latin America. Humans are now overusing the Earth's "biocapacity" by at least 56 percent -- meaning we're taking far more out of the planet than it's able to regenerate.

The report attributes this to "an explosion in global trade, consumption and human population growth, as well as an enormous move toward urbanization" in the last fifty years. Biodiversity and animal populations have fallen on every continent -- 65 percent in Africa, 45 percent in Asia and the Pacific, 33 percent in North America and 24 percent in Europe and Central Asia (which I'm guessing had less biodiversity to begin with, considering its longer history of industrialization).

Most of this has occurred because of changes in land and sea use and habitat destruction, including intensive farming and overfishing. Direct exploitation of certain species through hunting and poaching is also responsible.

The report maintains we can turn the tide on biodiversity loss, but it will take "a global, collective effort...increased conservation efforts are key, along with changes in how we produce and consume our food and energy." While I don't doubt that is true, particularly regarding responsible farming, fishing and land use, I think the report pulls its punches when it comes to human population control. (I confess I haven't yet read the whole thing, though I intend to.)

When I was born in 1966, the human population of the planet was about 3.4 billion. Now, merely 54 years later, it has more than doubled to 7.8 billion -- and it's steadily climbing.

I don't see how we can have a conversation about saving the planet and all the creatures that live on it unless we also talk about having fewer humans. I know some people find this anathema, but I think there are various "soft" ways to achieve that goal, especially through advocating better birth control (male and female) and family planning, and providing for the education and liberation of girls and women. (Obviously there are cultural barriers to that in some parts of the world, but they must be overcome.)

Otherwise I think we're inevitably headed toward a world that will more forcefully restrict the number of children any couple can have -- similar to China's old one-child policy (which China abandoned in favor of short-term economic gain). I have no idea what that conversation would look like, but I hope we can find less authoritarian solutions. We must, however, confront and discuss the problem.

Dave and I harvested more beans last night. This is our bean vine, clinging to the side of the house, where it grows up some twine and along our TV cable. Above is before the harvest...

...and this is after. Dave is pretty sick of beans but I think we can manage to eat our way through this last small haul. We let some of them get too big; the pods are a bit fibrous.

You'll also see two peppers on the left. Mrs. Kravitz gave us a pepper plant, and she said those were ready to harvest, but we have no idea what kind of peppers they are or how to use them. We've got to do some experimenting!


Frances said...

Those runner beans look good! Mine seem to have stopped producing. Not had a very good crop for several years now, in spite of P putting " goodness" in the trench before planting. I think the soil is just worn out!
Enjoy your weekend....should be nice weather.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

You describe the environmental crisis very well. I could easily drop to my knees and cry my heart out. We do not deserve this magical blue planet we inherited and our governments and international organisations are incapable of stopping the death tide. I believe that David Attenbrough's latest TV programme is called "Extinction" and it will be screened for the first time at 8pm on Sunday night. "They paved paradise put up a parking lot".

VRP said...

The peppers look like jalapeno to me ?

Unknown said...

I expect your can guess my views about environmental destruction.

Birth control addresses the real problem of over population. but until third world people feel safe, they will go on to have many children in the hope that some survive.

Sharon said...

I love that top photo! Those peppers look like jalapenos so be careful with your experimenting.
It really is a crime what we humans have done to this beautiful planet. Population control is a key factor and one that is almost impossible to address for so many cultural and religious reasons.

Ms. Moon said...

Around here we have these families who believe in the "quiver-full" philosophy which supposedly means that their god will give them as many children as their quivers can hold or something like that. They have literally a dozen children or so. Two of those families can fill up the river front at the Wacissa. They drive around in these huge vans and I do not have any idea what the fathers do to support them. The children are almost always homeschooled. How any mother can tend and teach that many children including infants and toddlers is beyond me but I will say that they are the most well-behaved children I've ever seen. They have to be. I think the older ones raise the younger ones.
They believe they are doing god's work.
I believe we've screwed the planet. I don't see how any of the destruction and loss of wildlife can be reversed. Humans can't even agree that this virus is real, much less come together to discuss and implement plans to address the demise of earth.
No. I am not optimistic in the least.

Fresca said...

Well, yes, less babies born would help, but it's not just population numbers, it's what each member consumes.
If everyone in the rich world (us!) would consume the amount of fuel and other resources that people in the poorer parts of the world consume, we'd be a long way to sustainability.

If we're asking other people not to have children, are we willing to give up the Internet?

Data from 4 years ago says US Internet storay takes 70 billion kwh, annually:

"To generate 70 billion kwh you’d need power plants with a baseload equivalent to about 8 big nuclear reactors, or twice the output of all the nation’s solar panels."

Red said...

The sad part of population growth is the powers that be are very silent on the issue.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Thanks for this thoughtful post. I'm simply exhausted.

I look forward to reading the verdict on this peppers. Why don't you just take a nice big bite out of one (seeds and all) and find out what they are!

ellen abbott said...

those peppers look like jalapenos.

I think we definitely need to reduce our global population. it seems to me that I read a while back that the population is not increasing as fast as previously because of several factors, a major one being the rise in infertility (whether that's caused by population pressure or from all the poisons we have saturated the earth and our food with or the pollution we create), also more people are opting not to have children and those that do have children stop at two for the most part. I think there was another factor but I can't remember what it was. the US in 2018 had the lowest population growth in 80 years, and increased only one half of one percent by 2019 making it the lowest increase in 100 years, due to these factors and also because of restricting immigration. the US may even reach zero population growth in the 2030s. and this trend is not just in the US but worldwide, not all the same percentages but decreasing. worldwide, zero population growth will nearly be achieved by 2100. if that trend, higher infertility and choosing childlessness, continues downward eventually humans will not have the genetic diversity to survive. it was a pretty interesting article.

Linda Sue said...

humans are invasive weeds, individually they are quite beautiful but as a growing cancer on the earth, they take over due to their cleverness and entitlement and contrivances of a god. Who will be the first to off themselves for the sake of saving the earth and wildlife? I think natural occurrences may take care of it through pandemics and climate change making it difficult for humans to go about their usual gobble up everything business. Certainly humans will not become sensible overnight or even during the many years that we have been aware that we are disrupting the balance. Earth shake, fires, pandemics, methane, gasses released , may whittle the population down to a manageable few- I am glad I am old, I would volunteer, but the absence of one weed will not clear the garden.

Catalyst said...

Re the peppers: taste them carefully. They may be hot. We have Shishitos, which I can barely detect any flavor; and Serranos, which are hotter than hell.

Elizabeth said...

Those beans look magnificent from here! I regret not planting some vegetables and am thinking of doing so in October which is a good planting time here in southern California (if we ever get out from under the apocalyptic skies). The past week has been so brutal on the west coast -- climate crisis is here, and it's difficult to feel optimistic, although I am heartened by the growing awareness.

Edna B said...

I agree that mankind as a whole will have to take part in saving our planet. Populations can be controlled better than they are now. I think there is no need for families to have ten, eleven, twelve and more kids. I think more land should be set aside for our wildlife. Whatever humans take for themselves, the same should be set aside for the animals. Actually, it belonged to them first. I think the use of plastics should be curbed and there are way too many vehicles on the roads. I think humans need to be more aware of how to dispose of unwanted items and all trash. I think humans should be more considerate of the consequences of our bad habits to others and the animals. Do you cut the handles on bags and face masks? Do you clean recyclables before putting them out? Do you throw trash on the ground or put it in receptacles? Etc, etc, etc. There's a lot more we could be doing, but will we? I hope mankind can turn things around. I'm old so I won't be here to see it but my grandchildren might be. Just a thought. You have a great day, hugs, Edna B.

jenny_o said...

100% right. You nailed it. In total agreement. How many ways can I find to say how true this is?!

The Bug said...

I’m so glad I never had children! And I totally don’t get those quiver full people, but I guess they think God can fix the planet too.

Steve Reed said...

Frances: Aren't legumes supposed to restore the soil? Or maybe only some legumes do that. I was surprised that ours did so well, since they're just growing in a bag of compost!

YP: I haven't been able to watch Attenborough's shows for years, as beautiful and well-produced as they are, because it depresses me so much to know that all that natural splendor is so endangered.

VRP: I don't think they are -- they're not that hot. We used them in soup last night and they seem pretty mild. (Unless ours are just duds!)

Andrew: Of course safety and security are huge issues in much of the world, but there are also traditions that demand large families and subservient roles for women. Those need to change.

Sharon: It is amazing to me that we don't even talk about it. Even the conversation is politically taboo.

Ms Moon: Those quiverfull people mystify me. There's a family here in England who are of the same ilk and they have (or had) a web site where they expound on all their ideas, which basically boiled down to, "there's no planetary crisis and God will provide." Argh!

Fresca: Absolutely, consumption is part of the problem, and we in the West definitely overconsume. But we also can't emulate the people at the other end of the scale who consume much less, because they live in abject poverty! We have to find that middle ground -- responsible but comfortable consumption. Our industrial farming methods lead to a lot of waste. As much as I love blogging, I think I could live without the Internet, but I imagine it's not going anywhere soon.

Red: That's exactly what frustrates me most. We ought to be discussing and debating all these issues, certainly within the context of the climate crisis and wildlife conservation.

Mitchell: Sorry I exhausted you. I'm exhausted too, LOL! As for the peppers, I did actually take a tiny bite of one and they're pretty mild.

Ellen: Well, that's encouraging news, about people having fewer children in the USA. I wonder how true it is globally? I think other parts of the world are still generating lots of kiddies. I'll do some more reading on that.

Linda Sue: Our bad stewardship of the planet goes right back to the Bible, which tells us that God put all this here for us to dominate and use. We've had a twisted perspective on our relationship to nature for centuries!

Catalyst: Maybe ours are shishitos? They're very mild -- almost like a green bell pepper.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I know you all are in the thick of it on the West Coast. I worry about you, and Robin up in Mendocino. (Who didn't comment today -- I hope she's OK!) Maybe you can still get some veggies in the ground?

Edna: All your ideas are good ones, and in some ways we ARE taking steps to clean things up. But we still have way too many people, in my mind. As Ellen said, fewer families in the USA (and developed nations in general) are having that many kids anymore, but it's still happening in countries where (as Andrew said) people feel unsafe or insecure.

Jenny-O: I wish I could figure out how to make people talk about it on a large scale.

Bug: I'm glad too. I have never regretted my decision not to be a parent.