Will there be enough earth for us all?

This elegant video short poses the question

vol. 1 issue 21


This week, docu-mental is moving to new digs, so it’s more chaotic than usual around here. We’ll be back to our twice-weekly schedule in September.

In the meantime, those american states of mind I talk about are on my own mind a lot lately, particularly as I increasingly see headlines indicating just how far the tentacles of nativism are able to reach these days, including into countries known for tolerance, such as Sweden.

To review, the five states of mind I have determined are the ones through which we filter all news and information, or have it filtered for us are:

  1. Us vs. them

  2. Fear of scarcity

  3. Projection

  4. Apathy

  5. Cognitive dissonance

One of the influences on my thinking about the interplay of these mindsets is an exquisite video released in 2016 by the American Museum of Natural History, depicting human population through time. This six and a half minute animated history of humanity’s existence mesmerized me the first time I viewed it, and I have watched it several times since.

Fundamentally, it is an animated graphic showing how it took 200,000 years for human population to reach one billion, and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. We are projected to reach 8.5 billion people on earth by 2030, leveling off at 11 billion by 2100.

When I first saw these elegant, if slightly eerie, graphics set to compelling music, it snapped into focus for me how not only our exponential procreation over millennia, but massive shifts in human migration due to wars, contagion, access to resources, and scarcity have all played out in relationship to the earth. Of course we are frightened at some level about there not being enough to sustain our existence. This has to impact — even subconsciously — how we think and thus, how we act. All five states of mind are relevant here, but particularly our fears of scarcity acted out in “us vs. them” constructs such as nativism, are easily understood watching this video.

The video is also a compelling escape from whatever you’re doing this minute, and offers a poetic vehicle to contemplate how the common denominator in our rising levels of mental anguish globally is us.

Here’s the video:

Looking forward to returning in September!