No Vacancy: Why Humans Are The Earth’s Biggest Problem…And The Solution

Thanks to the irradication of many diseases, better health care, economic development and improved access to technology, human beings are living longer than ever before.

This might sound like good news for the species, but it’s bad news for the planet, which is struggling to keep up with an increasing demand for food and access to a finite supply of fossil fuels.

A few facts to consider:

In a 2008 speech at Kansas State University, General Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligece Agency, stated his analysts now believe that the most worrying trend in the world is not terrorism but demographics.

“By mid-century, the best estimates point to a world population of more than 9 billion,” Hayden said. “Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it, a situation that will likely fuel instability and extremism, both in those areas and beyond.”

According to the UN Population Fund, the number of megacities (those with ten million or more inhabitants) in the world has climbed from 5 in 1975 to 14 in 1995 and is expected to reach 26 cities in just five years.

In 2007, the Population Fund’s executive director issued a report stating that in 2008, more than half of humanity will be living in cities, and “we are not ready for them.”

Megacities, Mega Problems

Man’s modern marvels, cities full of industry and luxury, are threatening to become the very thing that will poison the environment, and deplete the water and energy resources that rising populations feel that they are entitled to.

Many experts point to the rapid growth of the world’s population in the last hundred years as one of the factors that have intensified the effects of climate change that we are already beginning to see.

It’s important for people in developed countries to realize that no matter how many kilowatts of energy they save by replacing their incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs; no matter how many gallons of gas they save by buying hybrid cars; no matter how many pounds of carbon emissions they prevent from being released into the atmosphere by installing solar panels or wind turbines, countries like China, Ethiopia, India and Afghanistan are increasing their demand by twice that much, if not more.

Instead of looking for a way around the energy and resource problems that are now starting to plague the the Western world, these emerging countries are charging right ahead in search of their own piece of the “American dream.

Yes, the small, individual changes listed above are important: they signal a change in perspective that might catch on in time to change the social norms of the next generation, but something more drastic is needed if we’re going to be able get a handle on climate change and resource consumption in the next few decades.

Although it’s controversial, it’s important to state: there are simply too many of us for the planet to sustian life as we know it for much longer. The large scale natural disasters we’ve seen in the past couple of years are the planet’s way of crying out for some breathing room.

No, slowing or stopping population growth will not solely eliminate the climate problem, but it would make the job easier.

Condoms for Climate Change?

Although the mere mention of limiting family size as a way to reduce global warming is likely to raise the hackles of individuals on both sides of the aisle, some environmentalists believe that there is no other alternative, and are proudly embracing a life of voluntary childlessness as GINKs: green inclinations, no kids.

If this adults-only lifestyle rubs you the wrong way, you can still help to lower birth rates by working to raise the standard of living for women worldwide.

Many studies have shown that countries where women have less access to health care and education have the highest birth rates. Just last year the U.N. Population Fund stated that the battle against global warming could be helped by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available.

It’s also worth pointing out that slowing the rate at which humans are born is one of the only ways that all countries could participate in an emissions reduction plan without being denied access to the energy resources needed for continued development.

Aside from becoming a GINK, supporting an NGO that promotes women’s education might be the best thing you can do for the planet this Earth Day.

For more on this issue…

Why We Should Care about Family Planning this Earth Day

Bring Indigenous Voices into the Conversation About Climate Change

**More Care2 Earth Day Coverage**







Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - jamescridland


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Bette M.
Bette M4 years ago

Some day the earth will weep,
she will beg for her life, she will
cry with tears of blood.
You will make a choice,
if you will help her or let her die,
and when she dies, you will die too.

Wherever you go there once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Bette M.
Bette M4 years ago

Thank you VII.......we are the PROBLEM!!!!!!!!
stop having babies!!!!!!!!!

Wherever you go their once was a forest.
Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Viir Exeter
Viir E4 years ago

Over-population (& everything that comes with it—massive consumer product production & pollution produced by mass factories, the oil/gas industries, etc., to supply and SUPPORT the over-population) is killing the planet and everything on it, and no amount of science-denying is going to reverse that fact. Stop having babies! Self responsibility and contraception, contraception, contraception.

Daniel M.
Past Member 6 years ago

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for contacting the Sierra Club and for your comments. I will be sure to pass them on to our Executive Director, Michael Brune.

Your support of the Sierra Club is greatly appreciated. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Best Regards,

David Perry
Sierra Club Information
(Please include this email in your reply)

Michael Brune
Executive Director, Sierra Club


We, the Concerned Citizens of America, respectfully request that the leading organizations for preserving nature and the environment, promoting alternative fuel sources, and climate change awareness, take a stand and unite in the pursuit to end the Federal ban on Hemp.

The Gulf of Mexico - Oil Disaster is a Wake-Up Call that America needs to embrace and develop an alternative to oil as a fuel source. The time has come to look to our past, for what is the most viable source of energy from the most resourceful plant, that was so foolishly banned by an act of ignorance. The plant that was grown since the first settlers arrived in Jamestown and revered by our Founding Fathers who praised it as a wonder of nature.

"Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere." George Washington

"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country." Thomas Jefferson

The issue of hemp?s true potential has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media but if one does a search on the Internet, a

Daniel M.
Past Member 6 years ago

Planting only 6 percent of the continental United States with biomass crops such as hemp would supply all current domestic demands for oil and gas.
Did you know the average American spends 33 of 40 working hours to support their need for energy? It's true; 80 percent of the total monetary living expense for everything we do is ultimately wrapped up in energy costs; from the energy it takes to make the food we eat, to fuel for the cars we drive, to the manufacturing, storage and transportation of the products we buy. And 80 percent of solid and airborne pollution in our environment can be blamed on fossil energy sources. It is estimated that America has already exhausted 80 percent of its fossil fuel reserves.
Industrial hemp is the number one biomass producer on earth, meaning an actual contender for an economically competitive, clean burning fuel. Hemp has four times the biomass and cellulose potential and eight times the methanol potential of its closest competing crop - corn. Burning coal and oil are the greatest sources of acid rain; biomass fuels burn clean and contain no sulphur and produce no ash during combustion. The cycle of growing and burning biomass crops keeps the world s carbon dioxide level at perfect equilibrium, which means that we are less likely to experience the global climactic changes (greenhouse effect) brought about by excess carbon dioxide and water vapors after burning fossil fuels.


Daniel M.
Past Member 6 years ago

1) The decision of the United States Congress to pass the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was based in part on testimony derived from articles in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, who, some authorsTemplate:Http:// stress, had significant financial interests in the forest industry, which manufactured his newsprint.
2) Hemp paper threatened DuPont's monopoly on the necessary chemicals for manufacturing paper from trees and hemp fiber cloth would compete with Nylon, a synthetic fibre, that was patented in 1938, the year hemp was made illegal It is often asserted in pro-cannabis publications that DuPont actively supported the criminalization of the production of hemp in the US in 1937 through private and government intermediates, and alleged that this was done to eliminate hemp as a source of fiber—one of DuPont's biggest markets at the time. DuPont denies allegations that it influenced hemp regulation.

3)Hemp for Victory is a black-and-white United States government film made during World War II, explaining the uses of hemp, encouraging farmers to grow as much as possible.