Today is World Population Day, a time when, hopefully, many of us will take a moment to think about how rapid population growth affects us and the environment. Trying to wrap our heads around the sheer idea of 7 billion+ people all vying for space and resources on this planet can be quite exhausting. The thought of what must be done to stop this runaway growth is even more mind-blowing.
Although most analysts assume that the world’s population will rise from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, it is possible that we can prevent humanity from ever reaching this population size.
In a new book, State of theWorld 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman argues that there are at least nine steps we can take as individuals, nations, and a species, to slow population growth without drastic population control measures. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.
1. Provide universal access to safe and effective contraceptive options for both sexes.
2. Guarantee education through secondary school for all, especially girls.
3. Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture.
4. Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students.
5. End all policies that reward parents financially based on the number of children they have.
6. Integrate lessons on population, environment, and development into school curricula at multiple levels.
7. Put prices on environmental costs and impacts of having multiple children.
8. Adjust to an aging population instead of boosting childbearing through government incentives and programs.
9. Convince leaders to commit to stabilizing population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development.
Engelman argues that if most or all of these strategies were put into effect soon, global population likely would peak and subsequently begin a gradual decline before 2050, thereby ensuring sustainable development of natural resources and global stability into the future. Do you agree?
Image via Thinkstock