NOVEMBER 25 2017
THE 29TH DAY
First a brain teaser, not difficult, not really taxing your intelligence, just a simple riddle involving the nature of exponential growth, here it is.
“A lily pond contains a single leaf. Each day the number of leaves doubles – two leaves the second day, four the third, eight the fourth, and so on. If the pond is full on the thirtieth day, at what point is it half full?
The answer: On the 29th Day!”
I have a book by that name, THE TWENTY NINTH DAY, bought in May 1979, almost 40 years ago. Then already the author, Lester R. Brown of World Watch, thought the earth was in its final growth spur, even though the world had only 4 billion customers. Imagine: Forty years ago the problem of Climate Change was not yet a topic of discussion and the melting of the Arctic had not yet begun, yet, I think, that year was the start of the fateful 24 hour- perhaps 40 year – 29th day.
Don’t forget the weather now is the result of what happened 30-40 years ago. Picture the scene a few decades ahead when the impact of today’s much larger carbon exhausts come into play.
A few words about the USA in the past and now.
In 1941 on December 7 the USA entered World War II which assured victory. The same happened in 1917, in World War I, when the American entry into the conflict was decisive for the outcome.
Today we all are directly involved and indirectly victims of OUR WAR AGAINST CREATION. And here, in this most decisive universal event, the USA is not only NOT coming to the rescue, as it did in 1917 and 1941, but, fully fueled by Satanic folly is siding against creation, against God the Creator.
The USA joining the enemy camp is the direct result of THE AMERICAN RELIGION. Harold Bloom was completely correct when, in his classic THE AMERICAN RELIGION, he writes that “No Western nation is as religion-soaked as the USA, and while claiming to be Christian, it has ceased to be so…We are Americanized Gnostics, standing outside creation.”
I believe that Dr. Bloom, who calls himself an agnostic Jew, provides the correct analysis of the current state of affairs in the USA: estrangement from creation in essence means estrangement from the Creator. No wonder the entire American political scene is confused and totally divorced from reality, the truth being that the American Way of Life, so separated from the all-too-evident Change in Climate, has become the American Way of Death, evident in tens of thousands dying from gun violence, tens of thousands dying in automobile accidents, tens of thousands dying from overdoses, tens of thousands dying from obesity, tens of thousands dying from smoking and other preventable deaths.
I’d say that as a whole the American Public suffers from mental illness, brought about by its religion, which they claim is Christian and no longer is, if it ever was. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, upon leaving the USA in 1939, after declining a teaching position at Union Theological Seminary, wrote:
“God has granted American Christianity no Reformation. He has given it strong revivalist preachers, churchmen and theologians, but no Reformation of the church of Jesus Christ by the Word of God.”
No wonder the American population is dysfunctional: it acts as if they are threatened, as if the enemy is at the door, and there is no defense: the whole world is against them, and they see no hope. NAFTA is seen as a means to deprive the USA of an advantage in trade. The Paris Climate accord? Scrap it. And the leader of this paranoia is the President himself, who displays it in manifold ways: It’s us against the world!
Diane Beresford-Kroeger in her book THE GLOBAL FOREST starts her chapter THE PAPER TRAIL by asking us to picture a blind man sitting on a tree branch with a saw. He is cutting away on the limb that sustains him. That’s America.
The truth is that “The Times They Are A’Changing”.
It’s no surprise that people are nervous, become defensive, crawl back into the old truths, which no longer are valid: we’re in a historic transitional moment and the very foundations of society are now open to question.
This past week I read an interview with bio-ecologist and ecological economist Dr. William Rees, professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.
Rees is best known for his development of the “ecological footprint” concept as a way to measure the demand a particular population places on the environmental resources it needs to survive. In one of his papers he singled out the Netherlands as a country living totally unsustainably: “With an area of 33,920 square kilometers and a human population density of 440/km2, the Netherlands depends on the ecological productivity (carrying capacity) of an area almost 15 times larger than the entire country.
“Since the beginning of modern agriculture (around 1800), human activity has increased demand on planetary resources at an exponential rate. More energy has been expended, and more resources consumed in the past 40 years – since 1978 the start of the 29th Day – than in all of human existence beforehand. That is placing an ever greater strain on ecosystems that are now dangerously depleted.”
Dr. Rees relates how at the dawn of agriculture, just ten thousand years ago, we humans accounted for less than One Percent of the total planetary biomass of mammal creatures. Today this percentage has increased to about 35 percent. And when we throw in our domesticated animals and pets today this totals to 98.5 percent of the total weight of mammals on Planet Earth.
Almost One Hundred Percent!!
Not only are we on the 29th Day: we are at the very end of that day NOW: it’s close to midnight: the global tipping point is nearly there. Through sheer growth we have claimed for ourselves almost the total of the available Primary Productivity, leaving next to nothing for other species with the consequence that on our Finite Planet, with a limited energy flow, the more we take for ourselves, the less there is available for everything else.
Plenty of examples.
We have gone from millions of elephants to a few thousand. We have gone from hundreds of thousands of tigers to a handful. We have gone from billions of passenger pigeons to zero. North America used to have 40 to 60 million bison regularly migrating north and south through our great plains. Well, today there’s only a few thousand bison on domesticated farms or in a couple of parks—they have been replaced by the food crops that we grow to feed humans or to support our domestic animals.
All wildlife on the planet today is clinging to the edges of existence. They may not have gone extinct, but their populations have been reduced to a tiny fraction – a few percent at best – of what used to be.
Take the cod situation. It was sustainable when local fishermen caught them off the Newfoundland coast. Then the mechanized foreign trawlers came and depleted them in a few years. Thirty years ago the fishing ban was issued, but the cod never recovered.
Asked why he studied sustainability, Dr. Rees said, “It started a long time ago when I was a young fellow in southern Ontario, growing up part of the year on my grandfather’s farm. And I became very, very appreciative of the extent of which we are connected deeply to the land. There was one particular day, I remember, we’d all come in from the fields early – this is in the early 50s. I had loaded hay by pitchfork on horse drawn wagons. There were maybe fourteen of us around that table, eight cousins and a bunch of uncles and we were waiting for grandpa to come in to say grace. On that particular occasion it came to me as a ten-year-old that everything on my plate was related to me. I had weeded the tomatoes and dusted the eggs. I realized, as if the rug had been pulled out from under me or I was in freefall, that I was deeply connected to the Earth. In fact, it came to me that I was made out of the food that I eat and therefore out of the ground that we stand on.”
This episode reminds me of similar scenes when visiting my maternal grandfather, living without electricity, almost exclusively existing on a homegrown diet, bartering eggs for coffee, sugar.
Dr. Rees observation echoes both Bavinck and Bonhoeffer. In CREATION AND FALL Bonhoeffer writes, “God, the human race and the earth belong together.” Bavinck writes, “A human being, adam, belongs to adamah, the life bearing earth. With every sinew of his exis¬tence he is tied to the earth, which bears him and feeds him.”
Back to the 29th Day.
People can say, “Hey, the glass is only half full, we’ve got a long time to go.” The fact is we’re pretty much near the end of our rope, at the end of Day 29, after an enormous and exponential increase in consumption and economic throughput in the last four decades.
Dr. Rees relates: “It turns out that just this past week a paper was published in Germany showing that in the last twenty years or so, insect populations have plummeted by about seventy five percent.
And we’ve seen amongst insect eating birds, almost the entire group of insects eating birds – this is everything from whippoorwills to nighthawks to swallows and swifts and so on – experienced declines up to seventy percent. And in my own region – the Greater Vancouver area – there are really quite good data. Since 1970 there’s been a ninety-eight percent decline in barn swallows and bank swallows and other insectivorous birds of that kind.”
He uses this example: “Supposing your rich uncle dies and leaves you a million dollars. You invest it at five percent, and produces fifty thousand dollars a year. That’s your interest. So if you’re willing to live on fifty thousand dollars a year, you can live in perpetuity. That’s called sustainability.
“But as soon as you take sixty thousand or seventy or eighty or ninety or a hundred you begin to use not only all of the interest produced in that year but you’re beginning to eat into your capital. And the point comes at which you’ll get an NSF check because you’ve liquidated your entire capital. And that’s exactly, I think, the path we’re on today.
“We are depleting our oil supplies, we’re depleting our mineral supplies, and we’re depleting our supplies of soil. Fish stocks are in precipitous decline. The numbers I gave you earlier show that even insects from insect eating birds, mammals are all rapidly in decline because humans are virtually, literally displacing them from their habitats and from their sources of energy.
“Economists tell us that technology is enabling us to decouple – becoming less and less dependent on nature, but the raw reality is that humans have never taken more from nature.”
So far Dr. Rees.
It reminds me of Psalm 24, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Colossians 1: 16 says the same, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
All things, (ta panta in Greek) include everything created, all animals, all plants, all insects, all fish, all humans. Eliminating them spells doom. We are annihilating God’s creatures, supposedly for our benefit. THE AMERICAN RELIGION which disdains creation is causing us more and more to become insecure, in this FINAL HOUR of the 29th Day.
Us claiming 98.5 percent of the earth means that the DOOMSDAY clock is only a few seconds away from Christ’s RETURN. Last Monday a NYT editorial had this line, “It’s systemic change or bust“.
Christmas is approaching and Handel’s Messiah will be performed everywhere. It contains one aria that should make us think: (Malachi 3: 2) “But who shall endure the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ lye.”