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We need to save humanity in order to save this planet of ours

Guest Commentary


February 22, 2018

I drove over to Wenatchee last week for a meeting. As is normal for me when I travel alone, I enjoyed the countryside and day-dreamed most of the way. As I drove pass the irrigation canals, forests of electric transmission lines and crossed the bridge at Vantage, it dawned on me that we have transformed this planet into a habitat for humans.

Not long ago, Central Washington was an expanse of arid sage brush. Now it is crisscrossed with paved roads, and the sage brush scrubland has been replaced with lush cropland.

As a boy I could take my .22 rifle and go for miles in the woods along the creek east of our house. The wooded expanse is now filled with homes. Our farm is part of suburbia. There are no open fields left. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing; it just is what it is.

When I roamed the woods, there were three billion people on earth, now there are almost eight billion. We have sculpted the environment to accommodate the additional five billion humans, and have changed our lifestyle options as well.

We can’t go back to either the environment or the lifestyle of my youth. Instead of trying to resurrect the environment of our past, we should be trying to determine how we are going to feed, cloth and house our increasing population.

Sometimes it seems that environmentalists are tilting at windmills. They want to save the trees, save the wetlands; some even want to save the weather.

I acknowledge that the climate is changing. Winters are milder than they used to be, but I am not convinced that we are causing it. I am not close-minded, but the fossil record shows the climate has been changing for millions of years before the first man. The earth has been gradually warming since the last ice age, and no one knows why. Even if humans are the root cause of global warming, we should be trying to save mankind rather than save the glaciers.

Wolves, spotted owls and sickle-backed minnows have found their way into politics such that we have spent millions trying to restore their numbers to what they were in the last century. The cost of reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park currently exceeds $2 million per wolf without doing anything to improve the chances of survival for humanity. Free-range chickens and organic produce make no long-term sense at all. Returning to the farming methods we abandoned 50 years ago will not feed the future population.

Genetic modification is nothing new. Nature has been mutating genes for billions of years. Genetically modified wheat looks, acts and tastes the same if was modified in a laboratory or modified by an accident of nature. Without chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides we could not feed the current world population let alone prepare for the future.

We are experiencing the greatest human migration since discovery of the new world. The politically correct explanation for the migration from Latin America countries north and from the Middle East to Europe is the desire to obtain a better lifestyle for their families. The experts seem to have ignored the reality that the migration is from areas of high to lower population density.

Redistribution of our species is a reality. We can neither ignore it nor can we stop it. We have no option but to accept it while we still have the opportunity to prepare for it. Looking back is a waste of time and energy. In the next 30 years, there will be another billion of us. We need to focus forward to find ways to feed and house our increasing numbers.

Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and longtime resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free-lance columnist for over 19 years.


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