Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour


 Too many people, too many things.              Am  Bm7 E7
Too many people,  living like kings.               F   G   Cmaj7 Fmaj7
In every direction, appetites rise,                  Bm7  E7  Am A+5 Am7
Growing in size.                                                 A9/F#   B7  E7  

Expectation, every birth.
Every nation,  all over the earth.
Everyone needs a place to call home.
Everyone wants a car and a phone.             Bm7    F#dim   E7

Animals vanish habitat gone.                        E7–        A7–      
Not enough room for us all to live on.       F  G  Cmaj7 Fmaj7/A
Not enough ocean, not enough sky.           Bmsus4  E7  Am A+ Am7
Not enough land, supply and demand.      Bmsus4  E7  Am —–  

Instrumental 8 bars             Am—– Am —–  F   G    Cmaj   Fmaj7

Everyone needs a place to call home.         Bm7  E7  Am A+ Am7
Everyone wants a car and a phone.             Bm7   F#dim    E7

 Be fruitful and multiply, sounds pretty clear.     F  G  Cmaj7   Fmaj 7
That’s just what we’ve done, and now we are here.  Bm7    F#dim   E7
Too many people living like kings.                      F  G    Cmaj7   F/A
Too many people, too many things.                   Bm7   E7    Am  ——–

©Doug Hendren

What’s it about? Earth’s human population is now over 8 billion people. When I was born in 1950, that figure was a mere 2.5 billion, up from only about one billion in 1800. 

While some may claim there is room for more, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. The impact of humans on Earth’s life-supporting capacity depends on the number of humans, the average amount of waste each one produces, and the average amount of resources each of us consumes. If everybody consumed as much as an American, we would need more than 4 Earths to sustain us. 

A meat-based diet contributes greatly to a person’s impact on planetary life-support systems. A 2023 Yale study estimates that if we weighed all the mammals living on Earth, land and sea, humans would make up about 36%, and our domesticated animals 59%. All the world’s wild mammals are less than 6% of the total. Under pressure from humans, animal populations have declined almost 70% just since 1970. Can you imagine how we look to them, if they could speak?

In 1972, a group of MIT researchers published The Limits to Growth, predicting that without a change in our pattern of population and industrial growth, “the most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.” And although climate disruption wasn’t on many peoples’ minds back then, the excess CO2 and methane in the atmosphere is likewise driven by human population. 

There are well known examples of “population overshoot” in nature, such as lemmings or deer dying off when populations get out of hand. Human ingenuity has enabled us to push our population well past Earth’s sustainable carrying capacity, but eventually all bills come due. If we don’t start limiting our numbers and our consumption now, the Earth will do it for us. It isn’t rocket science, but simple math.

 I have often wondered how much of our present dilemma traces back to the well-known phrase from the book of Genesis: “Be fruitful, and multiply.”

But there is another biblical passage (Deuteronomy) more appropriate to our present moment: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life.”  My recent piece “World on Fire,” is based on this chilling passage. 

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