74… On modern times, anthropocene and human nature…
Part Three of Three on an Eternal Debate.

family walking by airport on the outskirts of town, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Old and new as a family walks past the airport towards the campo.

The recently revised U.N. population estimate for 2050 is 9.3 billion people A projection for the USA in 2100 is 478 million. Challenging times are ahead but this is nothing new, survival is challenging for individuals and societies of all species.

Driving across the Mexican Sonoran desert on a star-filled 1984 spring night listening to a Hermosillo rock station’s uninterrupted presentation of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung was the best of two worlds. Music is universal. Friends are universal. Traveling is universal. Being is universal.

In the USA there are 78 million baby boomers aged 45 to 64. This is a force of change. They will go where they can get maximize their resources for survival and comfort. How many will leave the USA for retirement is dependent on the USA’s ability to cope with growing pressures and increasing challenges.

Graffiti on a street corner, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

1984, directions and graffiti painted on a school wall along Calle Rosales.

September 1775, De Anza is leaving with a Spanish expedition to create a fort in San Francisco to head off the Russians coming down the west coast. George Washington and his Continental Army have besieged the British in Boston as Colonel Ethan Allen is captured at the Battle of Montreal by the British. Much has happened in the following 236 years leading up to 2011. Some say this is part of a new epoch, the Anthropocene, as human events, consequences of collective actions, alter-change the planet.

Human impact is equal to the population times affluence times technology. Global affluence in 1900 was 2 trillion dollars, 5.3 trillion in 1950 and 55 trillion in 2011. These are all in 1990 dollars. The population in 1900 was 1 billion, 2.4 billion in 1950 and will reach 7 billion in 2011. As for technology, there were 141,000 patents in 1900, 412,000 patents in 1950 and 1.9 million patents in 2011. The growing human biomass is 100x greater than any large animal species that has walked and faced extinction on planet earth. Currently, 65,000 text messages are sent every second. This is the Age of Great Acceleration.

This three part series was prompted by an internet group created in late 2002 for North Americans interested in Alamos. This group, 613 members as of 5-7-11, communicates needs, haves, events, thoughts, desires, alerts, recognitions, questions and answers. Here, at the end of April, 2011 a discussion started about influences that are changing Álamos. It began with a post by a recently arrived American who had started a dance studio in Álamos. She was coordinating a community participation dance, as part of an international event, to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Another group member responded that this was inappropriate and bad for Álamos. A digital conversation with several North American members began: who is doing what to whom? Why, what, when, where? How?

Watching a soccer game in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

T-shirts, wearable bumper stickers, make contemporary statements.

A tale of two T-shirts, one celebrates Selena, the Queen of Tejano, born and raised in Texas and a superstar in Spanish speaking countries. Shortly before the release of her first album featuring songs sung in her native language, English, she was murdered by her former manager. The other shirt promotes the American dream, everyone own their own home. Unrelated but related, today, the world’s largest military, and consumer of oil, is the United States. It spends nearly as much on its armies, navies and air power as the entire world collectively. Meanwhile, the Mexican army is engaged in a war with ruthless drug gangs fighting, with weaponry smuggled from the United States, over distribution routes to meet growing heroin, cocaine, meth and pot market demands in places like Fairfield, USA.

5% of the world population speaks English and 5% speaks Spanish. There are 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, 14 million in California and 4.7 million in Los Angeles County. On Cinco de Mayo, 2011, a presidential commission declared a need for a museum devoted to Latino and American history. A Smithsonian study in 1994 stated that Hispanics were the only major contributor to American civilization not recognized in the museum.

Alamos, Sonora, Mexico seen from the north on a spring morning.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Here is Alamos, east to west, on a spring morning from the north.

At one time, the 1770’s, there were two to three times the population as seen here in 1996 which is half the population of 2011. When I first visited Álamos there was talk of building a freeway from Navajoa through Alamos to El Fuerte and Sinaloan farm land. The United States was interested and engaged because food would arrive in Southern California hours faster. Since I last visited, roads from the west, Navajoa, and southwest, Masiaca, are new or rebuilt. Now it is easier and faster to drive to Álamos if one is headed north or south on the Navajoa-Las Mochis section of Highway 15. Roads are a major stimulus for change – expansion both at the destinations and en-route. Once there was Indian foot paths and then El Camino Real and now improved auto routes to, and through, Álamos. Pave it and they will come.
One can only wonder what the population of Álamos, Sonora, Mexico will be in 2050.

Anders Tomlinson on Plaza bench in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Antonio Figueroa.

Anders reflects on the day's work notes, photo by Antonio Figueroa.

Human impact on planet earth is equal to population times affluence times technology.
A climate change report commissioned by the Vatican, issued 5-5-11, indicates there are three things we need to do: “reduce worldwide carbon emissions by stopping deforestation and other initiatives: reducing the amount of warming air pollutants such as methane and soot by as much as 50 percent, and preparing for chronic and abrupt changes that cannot be avoided.” No mention of population. It is human nature to promote growing populations, this is a “healthy” economic condition. Cities that grow are doing well, cities that are lose people are doing poorly. New homes being built is good, ghosts towns are sad. This human nature was present yesterday when we lived in caves and present today in urban super-sprawl. And tomorrow?

In my mind, the big issues in the future are women’s role in society, abortion and sex-education. I know these are long standing ideological battles. It is human nature to reproduce to save-replace oneself and the species. We will be dealing with Anthropocene consequences because stopping population growth is the same as trying to stop a super volcano from erupting, or is it?

Human impact, and change, is equal to population times affluence times technology.

Springtime 1984 in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico

It is the spring of 1984. Anders Tomlinson and Kit Nuzum arrive in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico to begin shooting super-eight film footage with single-frame and additional short bursts and several time-lapse sequences. They used Kodachrome asa 40 film stock with a Minolta news camera.

Neighboring towns come to Álamos in the spring and celebrate their Indian Heritage.

Indian Day comes to Alamos in the Spring. Villagers from around the Álamos region come by bus to the Alameda and celebrate their native culture. Dancers, musicians and exhibits fill the business center with color, motion and music. Nacion Mayo and Nacion Popagayo are some of the regional dancers, musicians and exhibits competing in front of a panel of judges.

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