The First Sip

See our Sun gently break the line of the eastern horizon on its slow ascension to its mid-day peak. You sit quietly by the window. Watching and contemplating life. You slowly sip on the cup of fresh coffee you just prepared and you wonder how the people on Earth can stay vibrant when the Sun provides only finite energy.

Perhaps your thoughts will extend to the number of people all about. This is key. Take for example something as simple as your cup of coffee. You enjoy it but every day 2.5 billion other people enjoy a cup of coffee. That’s over 1.6e+11 litres of water annually for coffee. And 4.5e+9 litres of cream. And 3.6e+9 kg of sugar. Focusing solely on the coffee shows the sheer magnitude of human consumption. Coffee comes from the seed of the coffee plant. Each year humans harvest 8.6e+9 kg of seeds. That`s equal to 20 of the largest ship’s afloat today. The plants require 5.4e+6 hectares of suitable land. That’s larger than the area of Costa Rica. And just to brew the coffee requires 3e+10 kWh of energy, more than the total electric power produced by nuclear in Belgium. Do you see now how the sheer number of humans scales every common action to supersize.

Some have said that the purpose of life is to pursue happiness. Following this means that we will continue to enjoy our cups of coffee even if it means consuming the seeds from over 9 billion domesticated, particularized plants. They can’t make more plants as their seeds have gone. The land can’t support other life as it’s dedicated to coffee production. Should we consider the choices that we make as we sit back and enjoy the small things in life, like sipping on coffee and watching the Sun rise?