Overpopulation Essay, Research Paper
The twentieth century has drawn to a close and humanity faces the problem of being able to support its population without inducing catastrophic and irreversible destruction on Earth?s life-support systems. Throughout time, humankind has been living as though there are no consequences to its actions. But now, as people of the future, we see what is happening to the world that we live in. Despite all we know, these easily seen problems are still being ignored. Our actions in the past determine the present, and our actions now determine the future. In other words, we caused the overpopulation problems we are facing today, so we must also be the ones to solve them.
Every day we share the Earth with 250,000 more people than the day before according to Zero Population Growth, a national non-profit organization working to slow population growth and achieve a sustainable balance of people, resources, and the environment. ZPG is the reason I have become an advocate and they have supplied most of my statistical information. Today?s children are likely to see a tripling of the global population within their lifetimes. These children our are next generation of parents, voters, consumers, and leaders. The choices they make are critical to stabilizing the population and protecting the environment. Educating the youth of the future will help them to understand the problems the earth faces and how they can help by influencing and being the political leaders who can adopt responsible population policies.
One problem the earth and its inhabitants face today is our lack of resources due to of the increasing number of people. Tropical forests cover only 7 percent of the earth?s surface, but it holds over half of all plant and animal species in the world. The rate of destruction of these resources is now so far in excess of their renewable rates that they have effectively been turned into useless land. Although 3/4 of the earth is covered by water, less than one percent is readily available for human use. As the world population increases, this incredibly small amount of water will be the only supply for all humans, plants, and other animals on earth. Once this percent of water lessens even more, the agriculture will suffer, and people will have less food and so on. This cycle will continue until we consume all our natural resources.
Humanity today is on a collision course due to our value system. There are basic cultural values that connect our patterns of sprawl. The ?Cowboy Myth? states that we are destined to continue crossing new frontiers and conquer new lands. However, pictures of earth seen from outer space bring home the fact that our planet is not a series of endless frontiers, but a fragile spaceship with limited resources. The ?Growth is always Good? myth states that from birth we are told to ?be fruitful and multiply.? But why do some people believe this means to produce eight children? A 1998 UN report states that if fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2.5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion. The definition of economic prosperity is growth, but only some growth is good. Do we honestly believe that continued population growth is a good thing in a world where over a billion people go to bed hungry every night?
In the end, regardless of mankinds technological accomplishments, biophysical constraints will limit the number of people that can be supported without destroying earth?s future capacity to support people. If not, social forces will come into play before absolute biophysical constraints do. This happens because of human error and greed, which makes resource use both inefficient and unfavorable. If people first realize the problems we face today, we can create a better future for tomorrow.