Translated from the HIPPO by Patricia Remy
Sometimes I don’t sleep very well. That happened yesterday. It was not the beautiful half-moon which kept me awake; hippos graze during the night. I love to see the moonlight refracted off the dew-bespeckled blades of grass. No, it was my daytime reverie, the hours when I wallow, doze, and recover from herd activity, which was ragged and disturbed,
Once again, the immensity of it all closed in on my mind. I could go on about how aquifers are dwindling, while the oceans are rising, and droughts are getting more numerous and worse. Once again, I could mention my prediction that a geographical belt the width of the tropics, and extending round the entire Earth, will, within decades become uninhabitable for human or beast (why this split: we are all animals) and too hot for growing crops.
Climate migration will challenge the nations of the middle latitudes, when up to 100 million desperate refugees move north. The Great Lakes Basin is an area where the ravages of climate change are expected to be “least worse”. Understandably, they will seek a new home here where it is safe from the most damaging ravages of nature.
Really, we’ve all heard it a thousand times. Water and heat are only two facets of the catastrophe. Remember, my name stands for Habitat, Invasive species, Pollution, Population, and Over-use. It is coupled with E.O. Wilson’s plea to reserve half the Earth in its natural state (E.O. Wilson, Half-Earth, 2016, Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton, ISBN 978-1-63149-082-8).
As tens of thousands of ecologists have proclaimed – surely to the point of falling over from exhaustion – that species have to live within their means. Even humans.
Which brings me to a politically incorrect and unmentionable topic: Over-population. Population. One of the two P’s in HIPPO.
Humans will have to deal with it sometime; no time like the present to begin. Or do you want to doom your grandchildren to misery, most probably starvation? Sorry to be so direct and blunt, but that is where you’re headed.
But first—please — Get your governments to tax billionaires.
Perhaps proportional representation would help to get new laws through councils, legislative assemblies, and parliaments. The funds freed by this just and courageous act could finance all the renewable energy sources required to replace fossil fuels. Toxic nukes would not be even a consideration. (Tell Doug Ford, who is revving up Pickering, Darlington, and Bruce Power.)
And then, free your minds from the growth economy. It is killing you. We do not need all the crap we are told we need. For what, anyway? To grant us status and, therefore, meaning in life? A big-mouthed Hippo laugh for that one! You are not consumers; you are citizens. Plastic is not a natural component of human bodies.
Further, as a matter of public health or more specifically, managing over-population, the most “testy” subject, distribute the morning-after pill gratis to all takers, world-wide. It has been calculated that the Earth can sustain a population of 2 billion human inhabitants, who live at roughly the Canadian middle class level. If wealth were distributed equally, or equitably, take your pick, there would be enough for everyone, pension plans, health care, education, and all.
That gets me to another topic: the kind of masculinity which can prove itself only by producing babies. I say “producing”, crass as the term is, because the adherents of this belief are generally those who care least about their progeny, beyond marking them as notches in their fertility belts. Go ahead, call me misandryst. (Opposite of misogynist. Never heard the term? That’s because it doesn’t exist. Ask yourself why). Not so. My heart cries out for the mothers who are left to bring up their children alone, unable to provide them with the health care and education they need. They are doomed to watch as their precious ones become labourers in mines, quarries, and sweatshops or end up on the street. By the way, female genital mutilation (FGM) is often associated with this mindset. Despite serious efforts to ban it, it is still widespread.
Hallelujah to all the guys, near and far, who, after they’ve fathered two children, undergo a vasectomy. YOU ARE HEROES!!!
Drawdown, (2017, Penguin Books, ISBN 9780143130444 and reviewed in the Greenzine, Spring 2019) outlines a comprehensive program for adaptation to a collective lifestyle which does not ravage the Earth. The measures required are no secret. One of the first, surprisingly or maybe not, is the improvement in the status of women. This brings with it smaller families, more resources for health care, and access to education. The UN Secretary General reminds us of the most obvious measures almost daily. The powers-that-be, those who are in a position to act, e.g. the participants at the World Economic Forum, cannot say they do not know about them. Our federal government cannot say it does not know. The provincial government cannot say it does not know. City Councils cannot say they do not know. The media report on it continuously. We cannot say we do not know. I’m just a hippo, and I know.
Humans have to get their act together; it is a matter of survival.