Population – Is Anything Being Done?
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Is Anything Being Done?
In Chapter III of The Origin of Species, Darwin writes: “Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny.” (Darwin 29) Three hundred years ago, the population was only at about 500 million, and during this time the population was at a slow increase. Another factor during this period of time was the birth and death rates were at much higher levels. Many babies were born, but many also died. “Living conditions were such that many of the remaining children failed to survive beyond the age of thirty.” (Black 84) The crisis of Over Population should not be a surprise to anyone, currently if you were to look at the world Pop clock, which is a counter supported by the U.S. Bureau of the Census you would find a number that has risen from 6,367,148,920. This is the amount of people on earth May 8, 2004 at 8:39:47 PM; this number is constantly rising at about 8 million people per month. At the present rate, the population will rise to a point that it will max out the earths carrying capacity leaving humans with a lack of resources and space. Soon people will have to learn to survive off artificial resources to substitute for the inability for agriculture to keep up. “In 1950 the population of the world was placed at roughly 2,400 million, the rate of growth of the worlds population is greater than ever before in history, and the successive net additions, period by period, are breath-taking.” (Hertzler 9) In 1974 the United Nations held the World Population Conference at which it was determined that a solution for the crisis was needed, it was also decided that all countries would create a population policy that would attempt to help the countries deal with social, economic and cultural development. Although the United States has a large population problem to deal with of its own, underdeveloped countries hold 80 percent of the worlds population and are unable to provide methods of birth control, leaving people no choice other than abstinence. A question we are forced to ask ourselves is: Should we help fund family planning in third world countries, or should we leave them to fend for themselves when it comes to the issue of population control. Aside from third world and underdeveloped countries, modernized nations including the United States are having the same troubles with uncontrollable population rise. The principal reasons for alarm with population are the pressures that population characteristics and population change inflict on physical resources, environmental services, economic prosperity, social systems, and human values.
For decades, humans have fooled themselves into believing that we would never deplete all of earths resources, but because we could not control the population this has become almost inevitable. Not only is the exhaustion of resources a problem we face, but the destruction of these resources is as well. This destruction includes continued urban growth, degradation of land and water resources, massive deforestation, and buildup of greenhouse gases. Pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), radiation, and pesticides are all physical environmental factors found in air, land, or water that are damaging the planet. They recognize no political boundaries. Not only are resources affected but nature and many of its elements are in danger. Populations are being wiped out, species, and communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms that are working parts of our life-support systems are being destroyed. These are all partly responsible for the delivery of ecosystem services, which are the most irreversible of all losses. Just one element of biodiversity, species diversity, is disappearing at a rate estimated to be 1000 to 10,000 times the “background” rate, which is the more or less constant extinction rate that biologists presume to occur naturally over time. (Ehrlich 1) The activities of one nation can create pollution that is detrimental to other nations, or to all humankind. (Managing 2) In developed nations pollutants are always being created and are constantly being released into the environment destroying the resources that still exist. Although this pollution may not seem relative, it is directly related to the population increase. As the population increases the need for materials and living needs increase resulting in the harm of the natural resources that exist. During the Iron Age a lesson was taught to Britain, “As populations gradually increased and iron production became specialized, the impact grew more severe. Scottish forests were felled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to smelt English iron. England, that former country of oak forests, had lost her timber.” (Darling 72) This is just an example that occurred three centuries ago, it should have been a lesson to all countries to keep resources plentiful, but sometimes history is just bound to repeat itself. We have reached a state at which we are constantly overusing resources especially in America. An American baby born in 1973 will consume 50 tons of food, 10,000 pounds of fertilizer, 21,000 gallons of gasoline, 13,000 pounds of paper (forest), and 52 tons of iron and steel. As a developed country, the United States must realize the large impact it has on the rest of the world. We as a country use more resources than many underdeveloped countries combined. The American baby will consume 50 times as much steel, 250 times as much gasoline, and 300 times as much plastic as his counterpart in an undeveloped nation. (Hardaway 152)
As the population grows it not only affects the environment and resources, but it affects the economy and living standards of all people. Some may argue that population growth is directly related to economic growth and if the population does not continue to increase, the economy will fall into a lowered condition. It is debated, “Rapid population growth has not been an obstacle to sustained economic growth either in the Third World or the West.” (Hardaway 148) Although this may seem comforting now, this is only from a microeconomics standpoint, if looked at from a different standpoint its validity no longer stands. There is no hard evidence that the amount of people living in an area has any correlation with their per capita income. Western Europe, as well as other countries that have stabilized their population are now enjoying economic growth. If the population growth of the United States and other developing countries is not taken under control then the areas are soon to be overpopulated to a point where land does not exist and there will no longer be anything left to sell due to the