“Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, maybe we should control the population to ensure the survival of our environment”
Sir David Attenborough
It is no secret that the world’s population continues to grow. At the time of this blog, the world’s population stood at 7.5 billion1. On the day this blog post was written:
· 274,843+ people were born1
· 113,877+ people died1
Giving the world a net profit of over 161,200 people in under one day1! The worlds population net growth this year so far is sitting at over 65,258,2341. At this rate is it projected that the world will have 9.7 billion by the year 20502. With a growing population comes an increasing demand on our natural resources such as oil, coal, gas, water and land. But it’s not just these demands that are putting pressure on the world’s finite resources. As a society we appear to be over consuming. We live in a time were bigger is better, more is desirable and cheaper is beneficial. Our cars are bigger, we put too much food on our plates and we buy items that sit unused in our cupboards. We want instant gratification. If was can’t have it now, we don’t want it at all. Not only are we consuming more within our life times, with assistance of medical science and technology, we are now living longer. Therefore, we are consuming more over a longer period of time.
At what point do we stop. Do we wait till there is no more readily available fresh water, or when we have completely removed our forests, mangroves, grasslands and tundras or is it when our climate has forever changes how we live our lives? Can society itself make the changes that are required to save our environment and ecosystems, or do we need to rely on Governments and organisations to instruct and govern. Or is it already too late. Have we crossed the threshold of no return?
This problem is larger than an individual person, yet it will take individuals to make a difference. But what do we need to change to make the biggest impact? Through education and technology, we as a society, have become better at recycling and reusing rubbish and unwanted goods. We now make attempts to use public transport, walk and cycle to our destination points. Industry, in most parts, are now more conscious of the chemicals they are releasing into the environment. But is this enough or do we need to make some drastic changes? We could perhaps be contributing more to sex education and contraception programs to reduce the amount of accidental and unwanted pregnancies. Or, somewhat at the extreme level, should governments be limiting the amount of children per family? Professor John Guillebaud stated that “a two child maximum is the greatest contribution anyone can make to a habitable planet for our grandchildren”3. These types of programs have been used previously in Vietnam and Hong Kong with the Chinese encouraging only one child per family during the 1970s. Personally, I think it’s an idea that definitely needs to be explored as a global guideline. Making it a hard and fast rule would be difficult and enforcement would be problematic. Cutting off government family assistance payments after two children could be one form of encouragement and possible tax breaks for those that choose to have one or no children. But this does not address the reproduction in third world countries. These countries may benefit from reproduction education instead. But it also raised ethical and religious questions.
I believe that we are currently merely tip toeing around the overpopulation issue and attempting to make small chips into the problem. Governments and organisations appear to be more concerned with their public appearance than making significant changes at the risk of falling out of favour with the general public. We can continue to cut emissions, recycle, construct desalination plants and convert to environmentally passive energy sources, but is this really doing enough to ensure the survival of our environment?
What would your solution be? Do you believe that society is capable of a solution?
Feature Image Source: https://curiousmatic.com/