Con-Census or Peace?

by Pam Lazos | Sep 20, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Philadelphia skyline – © pam lazos

I saw a cartoon the other day.  A man and a woman hold hands at the water’s edge, an old gnarled tree to the right of them, while off in the distance is a small silhouette of another person standing on a bluff, the only other human in sight.  The man remarks:  “It’s too crowded. Let’s get out of here.”

During these pandemic times, I can relate to that sentiment.  Last week, my daughter and I went to the mall to pick up her phone that had been repaired — the first time for me since the pandemic started.  I began teleworking in March, eliminating my commute, and other than going to the grocery store and visiting a few friends who have also been quarantining, my husband and I don’t venture out. Solo riding my bike and walking the dog have become  highlights of my day.  The mall operated at  a third of its capacity, yet we felt crowded and couldn’t wait to leave. 

For 15 years or so the book The Population Explosion sat on my shelf; I couldn’t get myself to read it. The doomsday predictions were most frightening and very real and the authors advocated controlling the population or suffer the consequences.

peaceful political assembly — © pam lazos

Population control is a sensitive issue almost everywhere, with governments engaging all kinds of policy instruments, influenced by religious norms and opinions, by market manipulation of birth control technologies or taxation schemes. On occasion, governments abide by that most modern of concepts: reproductive health rights. 

In the U.S., reproductive rights are a hot issue and some aspects, particularly a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, seem destined to remain forever as the most inciting of them. It is, perhaps, the single greatest issue in many people’s  minds when choosing a political candidate. Asking people to have fewer children because the world is not going to be able to house, feed, and water the next billion of us is a rationalization that falls on deaf ears; no one wants to talk about it. The only proof up until now for seeing population growth curtailed is relentless and consistent improvement of women’s education and women’s full participation in the labor market, at all rungs, and in all disciplines.

Comcast Center at night — © pam lazos

Yet, regardless of whether we will “plateau”,  the problem of over-population of our environment still remains where almost 8 billion of us need to eat and imbibe and deal with the waste streams that are the result of our eating and imbibing. Our current exploitation of the environment to satisfy the needs of humans everywhere is unsustainable. Consider the ramifications of climate change — desertification of areas that used to be able to grow food; sea level rise causing the reduction of arable land and the destruction of private property; and increased lack of access to clean water either because we’ve filled in the streams, the rivers have dried up, or our assimilative capacity has been reached. Under this doomy, gloomy scenario, the question remains:  what, exactly, is going to give? Will we shoulder the tasks at hand with science, a common sense of sharing, or shall we also fall back onto that old method of solving conflicts and thinning the population: war, genocide, famine, pandemics? 

The United Nations was formed to create platforms to build a common sense of sharing and the UN is the foremost promotor of science in helping us all achieve some equity in our lives. Yet, we are witnessing another round of divisiveness in humanity’s history, not only within nations, like  the U.S., but worldwide, and it feels like eternity since we reached consensus on anything.  We experience anger and vitriol spewing from all sides, fake news and alternative facts about science, politics, and all manner of life, sowing enmity and confusion or con-census, and worst of all, it doesn’t look like things are going to calm down anytime soon.  In many nations demonstrations and protests have become almost daily occurrences. Here in the U.S. people legally protesting are now being arrested under the Sedition Act, threatening to undermine our first amendment rights, while rebel rousers and in some instances armed militia are upsetting peaceful protests which brings more armed governmental forces to the scene to quell the craziness. 

Evolve or Revolve — © pam lazos

All the while I keep asking myself the question:  do we have the stomach to evolve or will we simply revolve, again, through the same old tired tension-filled issues only to end up back where we started and still unable to fix the problems.  War and warring shouldn’t be options anymore, but can we shelve that habit?

These are truly scary times, but not unprecedented. Learning from history,  let’s use these times to figure out a better path forward for ourselves, our friends and our families, indeed, for all stakeholders. Let’s focus on something that is an existential, critical need for each of us. Let’s focus on managing water, and forge peaceful paths and methods that include unfettered access to WASH — water, sanitation and hygiene.

peaceful lake — © pam lazos

We at the Global Water Alliance are dedicated to #WaterandPeace.  Join us and our partners, The Water Center and Drexel Peace Engineering, on Thursday, September 24, 2020 for an online conference from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with speakers from around the world to talk about ways to improve equity-for-all in accessing clean, safe water, and establishing peace-driven governance systems for management of watersheds and water basins around the globe.

GWA’s Water and Peace conference is a preparatory event for the World Water Forum in Senegal, Dakar in 2021 and marks the first regional discussion  among international water experts aimed at developing a toolkit of policy, governance, and technology strategies to present in Dakar next year.  The focus will be on equity and involvement of all stakeholders in each watershed, while addressing the urgency of climate change.

the dawn of a new era — © pam lazos

To navigate a world with  billions of people, we will need strategies for resilience and sustainability as well as contingencies for the future — and we need to do so together.  

Register today:

Pam Lazos is a writer, blogger, environmental lawyer, and on the Board of the Global Water Alliance, an organization that envisions a world where all people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
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33 Responses to Con-Census or Peace?

  1. Another powerful post, Pam! You remind me of something I learned about in catechism class: stewardship. God has blessed each and every one of us with unique gifts, and it is on us to use those gifts to make this world a better place. Too many have forgotten *the world* is a gift, too, and it is on us to take care of it and not destroy it like toddlers going crazy with toys at the day care in Toy Story 3.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post Pam. Unfortunately I think we here on planet Earth are going to have to hit rock bottom before we realize we should have believed in science. At least I hope we learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ally Bean says:

    You ask: “what, exactly, is going to give?” I wonder that, too. I can only hope that we as a nation move forward to a place of laws and responsibility which oddly enough could be the current meaning of make America great again. 🤨

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Resa says:

    I think if humanity lives largely on a plant based diet, that will help.
    In the 1970’s, I read an article about overpopulation and starvation.
    At that time, there were 3 billion people on the planet. The article went on to say that there was 1 acre of arable land available per person. It stated that it took 1 acre of land to feed 1 vegetarian person for 1 year. It said it takes 5 acres of arable land to feed 1 meat eating person for 1 year, due to the conversion rate.
    I felt so guilty, as young as I was, I became a vegetarian.
    Now you say 8 billion of us are crowding the earth.
    What are we eating?
    I guess not everyone is eating, then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Definitely not everyone is eating, Resa, and I’m Surprised that it’s only 5 acres. I wonder if that accounts for the water it takes to raise beef? Good for you, sticking to your principles. If my husband wasn’t a carnivore I may be a vegetarian. I was one for some years when I was single, but I barely have time to make one meal meat alone two separate ones!🤪

      Liked by 1 person

      • Resa says:

        Not sure, but I think I remember the article getting into the …. erm…. gasses from cows & the ozone.
        My hubby ate meat when I met him.
        I made what I made for food.
        If he didn’t like it, he could eat elsewhere.
        So, he ate veggie food at home, and when we went out for dinner, he would eat meat then.
        Now, he’s almost 100% veggie.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos says:

        Smart lady! I think I’d have a revolution on my hands. 🤪


  5. Linda Schaub says:

    Pam – I hope you can continue to hunker down at home and be spared the ravages of this pandemic until some sort of normalcy arrives. Walking the dog and riding your bike gets you Vitamin D and airs out your brain! I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a mall and try to consolidate all my errands into one “germy day” and be done with it. This year is one for the ages.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve presented major issues here. I hope that strong, positive answers will be put in place. And soon. Before it’s too late. By the way, is that the Rail Trail Park in the first photo?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. hilarymb says:

    Hi Pam – it’s been a difficult year … I have to say I know there’s too many people in the world … but it wasn’t til ‘us lot’ couldn’t get out of the UK – that I realised how awful people are and how many there – perhaps this island is a bit full.

    We should all be more selfless … leaders, to community, to each individual – that would help … but lots of change needed or one of many nasties to befall the world could happen … just very sad about RBG – she was and will continue to be inspirational.

    The Sudan conference sounds extremely interesting … good luck with that … all peoples should have access to fresh water.

    Take care and stay sane … all the best – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pam Lazos says:

      Yes, Hilary, I bet your island is a bit full and as climate change continues and sea levels rise and potable water becomes scarcer, more people could be knocking T the door to get in. I hope we figure some of this out soon! 😒🙏


  8. Susan Scott says:

    May the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg be a blessing. I know you’re all very sad about this warrior woman’s death and what this may mean politically with elections around the corner and the drive to put someone else in her place. I’m watching this quite closely.
    What a complex issue you’ve outlined Pam. There are some who feel that the earth as she is, can continue to feed an every increasing population. That it’s a matter of using unused land in a much more spread out way and less concentration on cities. Building on unused land and constructing schools, clinics, agriculture etc etc etc. Yes, fewer children when there are no chances of their being fed and educated. But educating potential mothers and fathers. Also education on no wasting, of water, precious resources, the wrapping of consumer goods etc etc.
    Have a great week, and congratulations on this upcoming water and peace alliance. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  9. ‘These are truly scary times, but not unprecedented. Learning from history, let’s use these times to figure out a better path forward for ourselves, our friends and our families, indeed, for all stakeholders.’ So well said Pam . Hold out hope. Always.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Damyanti Biswas says:

    I wish more people would pay attention and do their bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sue says:

    You lose some daunting questions in this piece. Good questions that I fear our government isn’t asking. I have this eerie sense that Mother Nature will have the final say. I think the extinction of humans through plagues or other means is a possibility. At a minimum it’s a means to cull the global population. I do wish for peace. I just don’t see it in our immediate future 😷🙏🏻❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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