from . . .

Conservation and National Security

A Handbook for a Conserver Society

by David R. Brower


. . . I wish I could show you two maps and stop talking for a while.

One is a computer map of the U.S. population in 1776, 1876, and 1976, prepared at M.I. T.

On the 1976 segment Los Angeles is barely perceptible. It had not even become one of the largest 25 U.S. cities by the 1900 census. The M.I.T. map is enough to assure even aHerman Kahn that we can't go on in the next century the way we carried on in the first two. It should assure the space colonizers that they couldn't dissect asteroids fast enough to build colonies for our fertility excess, or find fuel enough to ship it any farther than India, where it is hardly needed.

The other map exists only in my mind -- a demographic-drain map to show what resources were required to sustain our new population peaks, a map in which the area of countries is the product of their population multiplied by their resource drain. Newsweek published a map on October 26 that comes close, but not close enough.

Something better than gross national product is needed to measure the drain of resources. (For example, the U.S., with five percent of the worlds population, uses one third of the resources; the remaining ninety-five percent use the other two thirds -- a ratio of about ten to one. Our 225 million, multiplied by ten, equals 2.25 billion, half the earth's population. On the global map, then, the U.S. would occupy half the land area, and in the Newsweek map it doesn't begin to. Africa would be tiny.) I think that if we looked long and hard at such a map, we would realize why it has been said that a lot of nations can't afford the U.S. anymore.

When I first heard that comment, scenes from Italy flashed through my mind, abandoned castles on hills, castles once comfortably occupied by the affluent who thought that if they kept their supporting peasants ill-clothed and ill-housed and ill-fed enough, the peasants couldn't muster enough strength to cause trouble. You could simply tell them to lift themselves by their bootstraps, mind the magic of the marketplace, and buy a do-it-yourself covered wagon and go west . . .

We have better ideas, and I'm sure you do. For the full Friends of the Earth list of things to spend a trillion on, I refer you to:

Progress As If Survival Mattered; A Handbook for a Conserver Society.