From the time a hamster is born until it reaches sexual maturity, it doubles its weight each week; then growth levels off. That makes very good sense given that it exists on a finite planet with finite resources and isn’t the only creature to share it.
But let’s just say that Nature didn’t put a stop to its growth. According to this article on the BBC, that hamster would weigh 9 billion tonnes by the time it turned one and its daily intake would be greater than the total, annual amount of maize produced worldwide!
Lucky Mother Nature is a smart lady huh?
Did she make some sort of mistake with us though, the “smartest” of her creations, in allowing us to think economic growth and consumption was limitless, possible and desirable? In this aspect are we any smarter than the goldfish that will eat and eat and eat until it becomes sick and fouls its tank as a result?
The article referenced above is a really interesting view of our insane desire for growth and it’s become a burning issue once again given we are emerging from the global financial crisis that put the stops on growth to some degree.
The author also makes a brief reference to a report published in 1972 that compared available natural resources with rates of human consumption. The paper was known as the Limits to Growth report. One of its conclusions was that within less than a century and approaching resource management in a business as usual manner, we would run out of the non-renewable resources on which industrial society depended upon, followed by every nasty scenario you can think of.
Of course, there have been changes since then – the rise of solar power and other forms of renewable energy as an example; so we may have bought ourselves some time. But if we continue with this “limitless growth” mindset, I wonder how much.
Anyway, the BBC article sums up the “limitless growth” issue very nicely and explains terms such as ecological bankruptcy, aka ecological debt. It’s a good article to read for ideas if you’re trying to relay the green message to others. You could start off by mentioning the 9 billion tonne hamster to really grab their attention :).