“Go forth and multiply”, said the Lord, God, to the first of Human Kind, Adam and Eve. And we did.
At present, according to the World Population Clock run by Berkeley University; on Earth, there are around 2-3 births per second, which has lead to a population of around 6,854,827,100 (for a fraction of a second) as I wrote this article.
The problem with this population, however, is overpopulation. Actually, it isn’t even overpopulation that is the problem; it is chronic-intense-severe-overpopulation.
See, here’s the thing; humans need to reproduce, we really do. If you set aside the decree set forward by most deities of most civilisations to “go forth and multiply”, you’re still left with this biological imperative to procreate.
In order for humanity to survive, we had to procreate like rabbits. It was sex which drove and directed evolution (the ability to survive meant the ability to procreate –indulge me the crude explanation of natural selection). 3.7 billion years later, humanity is out of control.
Today we watch documentaries where we feel bad for a clutch of sea turtles when only five of the hundred offspring survive, but right up to the time of eradication of the multiples of the major child killing illnesses with the introduction of vaccines, it was no different for humans. In fact, the countries with the highest infant mortality rates (infant death) also have the highest birth rates, mainly because parents are cognisant of the fact that their offspring may well die.
Often referred to as the ‘Cycle of Poverty’, the children that survive in these developing countries, as with those born into poverty developed nations, have little (or no) access to education, work and thus food, shelter and medical care. They inturn have children who are kept in this same cycle, with little opportunity of ever finding their way out. (Somewhere around 12-13% of Americans are in this Cycle).
But Humanity is consuming its self to death.
This planet that we find ourselves alive upon has limited resources and since the industrial revolution, we have raped and pillaged this planet for these precious resources and consumed them at an utterly astounding rate. Oil, as an example, is a fossil fuel, which means that it is derived from ancient fossilised organic materials from around 400 millions years ago. We started drilling for the stuff in 1853 (in Poland) and, in 2010, have passed the point where supply can meet demand.
The reason that demand has surpassed peak production (sequestration) of oil is simple; there are too many people who need it.
Food is just as much of a quandary. We produce and consume food at increasingly greater rates. The population swells some more, and another patch of oxygen providing forest is felled for grain or livestock cultivation.
The earth isn’t getting any bigger, but the human population is, and it is increasingly consuming every little bit of everything as it swells.
We burn fossils to provide our population with energy (which inturn sends carbon into the atmosphere), and increase livestock exponentially to provide our population with energy (which inturn sends methane into the atmosphere); and then fell the trees which sequester the carbon that we send into the atmosphere. The result is a pronounced ‘greenhouse effect’ which is melting our ice caps, evaporating and displacing our fresh water and directing our deserts to continually encroach on our previously habitable zones.
Our world governments don’t appear to care, they won’t even agree to tax the big polluters!
Many intellectuals have lamented that humanity would likely bring death upon its self, and one can’t help but concede to there being some inevitable and ever encroaching truth. But before the apathy descends upon you in the form of “can’t force the world to change” rhetoric, let me offer a few suggestions:
- Reduce your meat intake to 5 meals a week, instead of 3 meals a day, every day.
- Put a solar water heater on your roof (many countries have rebates for this).
- Put an array of solar panels on your roof and feed it back into your power grid while when household demand is less than supply (there are government rebates, and feeding back into the power grid can significantly reduce your power bill).
- Grow your own vegetables (bloody easy, good investment, seriously cheap).
- Install a rainfall water tank (there are government rebates, and depending on your rainfall, you can use the tank water on your toilets, to water the garden).
Before you criticise me for my self-righteousness; I hate the thought of eating the flesh of animals for my own consumption; I have solar hot water; I have solar power; I have tank water; I have huge vegetable garden and grow much of my own fruit; I have several rainwater tanks. I also have an intense full time job, have and adore my two beautiful and intelligent daughters, I’m doing a degree in science, I host a successful podcast, am about to have my first book published, and I exercise daily. Lack of time is the most prevalent (and, in most cases, utterly invalid) excuse.
Can we fix overpopulation? No, not really. Short of a biblical flood, world war or asteroid collision, the population will continue to increase, the atmospheric temperature will rise and the oil and coal WILL run out.
That said, you can become more self sufficient and make your house sustainable. Or, you can pray to a deity… but seeing as though that has never worked for anyone, ever, I suggest you work on yourself.