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**

ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:


TAKE ACTION


HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?

 

THINGS TO PONDER


THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - jamescridland

230 comments

Eric Tschiember
Eric Tschiember4 months ago

With capitalism and the ideology of growth, the worm is in the fruit.
Our governments need more people to feed the system, go to work, pay taxes, or go to war whenever they decide for us it is necessary.
The only solution is, for each of us, to refuse this system.

Stop reproducing what your family and your political and social environments teach you to do, stop being a stupid consumer sustaining the criminal system in place, stop procreating or at least restrict breeding.

Easy to say, hard to do. Especially when you live in the worst country on this planet which has invented marketing, junk food, and a way of life based on consumption.

Each of us, and especially each of you American citizens, should ask yourself : am I ready to change drastically my way of living ? am I ready to refuse the system, and moreover to fight against it ? am I ready to fight for real causes (climate change, biodiversity protection, human impact reduction) ?

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William C
William C9 months ago

Thank you.

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W. C
W. C1 years ago

Thanks.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James merritt jr5 years ago

Thank you.

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Bette M.
Bette M6 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.

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Bette M.
Bette M6 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.

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Viir Exeter
Viir E6 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.

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