Earlier mid-month, I recounted the absolutely true-as-described tale of a sales clerk too simple-minded and uneducated to grasp that "half a dozen = six". (I still get shivers when I contemplate the future of a society that she and 50M of her idiot cousins inhabit.)
Now, the other end of the spectrum.
A physician wondered aloud whether there weren't too many people, planet-wide, because there wasn't enough water. (Posited, exactly, as if one day we'd wake up to 20B or 50B people, and all of us thirstily eyeing the last glass of drinking water. I Schiff you not.)
So, clearly, it's possible to take literal years of basic science, starting with chemistry, the building blocks of life, the universe and everything, and biology, moving to anatomy and physiology, and still remain wholly ignorant that 2/3rds of the planet is covered with water, and that all the water everywhere comes from this, and is deposited by clouds hither and yon by the whims of climate. Since forever.
|For those who passed an MCAT, but struggled with 4th grade science.|
Yardstick across the knuckles optional, but strongly recommended.
I noted that there was no shortage of water, only a shortage of potable or otherwise-useful water in a given locale, owing to the misfortune of misdistribution. Folks in the Midwest about now, or those in the Amazon Basin or the vicinity of the Everglades or Louisiana bayous would take about a New York minute to assent to this obvious nugget of truth.
We don't have too little water, just too little we can drink, or with which to irrigate, when and where we want it, and horrific surpluses in other places.
Living in California, subject to wet years and dry years, this has been obvious since my youth, and to anyone anywhere with the merest capacity to observe and correlate bog-simple facts.
To a physician musing about his probably recockulous socio-political agenda, not so much.
No matter how many times I had recourse to the historical facts about the entire expansive history of this state in particular, and the American West in general, being the quest and fights over water, and the herculean efforts that have allowed the thriving settlement of the American Desert by moving the resources from where they are to where we want them, and the reliance of this state on Sierra snowpack far more than imported resources, he continued to deploy the deflector screen of blockheaded "I don't believe that."
I see, Doctor. So this is to be rather a religious discussion of your unsubstantiated dogma, and not one of independently verifiable historical and scientific facts? Well played, sir.
I like my job, so I tried (and mostly succeeded) to not stoop to explaining to the doc, like an errant child, that the problem isn't too little water, it's one of mere distribution, abetted hereabouts by the idiot son of another governor, which patriarch had made plans for Califrutopia, for example, sufficient to water and feed and move 50M or even (God forbid!) 80M Califrutopians, until his simple-witted son, after two separate cracks at destroying the Golden State, undid all that by adherence to the same Ehrlich-driven Malthusian pessimism about the carrying capacity of their Mother Gaia, and cancelled aqueducts, reservoirs, power grid expansion, and highway projects with wild abandon, in order to make life here so miserable that people would kill themselves (and, nota bene, their unborn children, QED) rather than birth burgeoning generations of happy, healthy, well-fed children in such a beautiful and hospitable homeland. And who, to date, has succeeded beyond the dreams any sane man would have dared hope.
To be sure, there is an absolute carrying capacity limit on the planet. Probably in the hundreds of billions, provided we were to approach the problem rationally and sanely, which hurdle has felled most civilizations going back only to the Tower of Babel.
But the entire earth's population at present could live quite comfortably and contentedly inside merely the area of Texas, with a population density that wouldn't cause any more stress than most modern cities (provided we didn't put Democrats in charge of city hall nor the public utilities thereof).
Leaving, in that example, all of humanity only 6 and 9/10ths remaining uninhabited continents upon which to raise food, recreate, and frolic, with little further distress, and far more natural harmony to the lesser members of the biosphere.
The twin pitchforks of this dilemma are an over-estimation of humanity's importance and influence, coupled with a self-loathing that rises to a suicidal wish for self-destruction.
This is, inevitably, what happens to anyone, a nominally educated doctor, a society, a civilization, when they decide that Man is the measure of all things.
It can, indeed, be corrected, provided the allowance to use a big enough hammer.
|Like Archimedes with his lever, I can fix all stupidity, |
if you'll only let me use the right hammer.