What is your guess for our #1 Long Term Challenge? Nuclear Proliferation? Food and Clean Water Supply? Globalization? Climate Change? Energy Resources? Bad Drivers? Job Opportunities/Displacement? Environmental Toxicity? Donald Trump? War? Ethnic Cleansing? Lack of Medical Care and Supplies? Pandemics?
Every one of these issues are ultimately related to, and are merely symptoms of the really BIG problem — Over Population. Too many humans and not enough resources, technology or distribution networks to serve them. In 1980, 37 years ago, world population stood at roughly 4.5 billion people. Today we’re at 7.2 billion and climbing. A 62% increase in under 40 years.
Future population projections vary based on the modeling data used, but the average of a number of studies predicts a population between 9.2 and 10 billion by 2050. This means Earth’s population will have doubled in 70 years. Or put another way, we have been adding 70,000,000, to 80,000,000 people to this planet PER YEAR.
This rapid explosion of humans has been bad for living conditions on planet Earth. We’re heating our atmosphere, contaminating our soils and streams, piling trash as high as mountains, hunting and killing other species to extinction, acidifying our lakes and seas and polluting our air. We have created huge plastic “islands” in the middle of our oceans. We are draining underground aquifers that have existed for 15,000 years. We humans are already the cause of what some scientists refer to as a MASS EXTINCTION EVENT (see chart below). Due to the current rate of species extinction, humans are believed to be causing a Sixth Mass Extinction, which could ultimately include us. (Highly recommend The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert 2014).
But let’s be selfish for a moment. Forget the damage we are doing to other species and let’s think about what we are doing to ourselves: our inability to provide basic human needs to a large percentage of our population such as; adequate, nutritious food, clean drinking water, medical care and supplies, and reasonable shelter.
From the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) February 2015:
— almost 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger and almost 2 billion are under- or overnourished.
From the World Health Organization (WHO) July 2017 update:
- 844 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 159 million people who are dependent on surface water.
- Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
- By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
Also from WHO June 2015:
— 400 million people do not have access to essential health services and 6% of people in low- and middle-income countries are tipped into or pushed further into extreme poverty because of health spending.
From Futurism.com Sept. 2016:
— A follow up study conducted by Habitat in 2015 showed that there were 1.6 billion people lacking adequate housing.
At 7.2 billion people, we are seriously failing to provide the basic daily essentials to 2+ billion people. That’s roughly 1/3 of our species.
By 2050 that percentage is expected to rise significantly. WHO projects that 2/3’s of Earth’s humans could suffer from water scarcity alone (April 2015).
These are projections based on current trends and technologies but there is no telling how these numbers will actually be effected by climate change. For a more in depth look at the challenges of Climate Change read my blog https://wordpress.com/post/laresistanceamerican.wordpress.com/4169.
Here are some possibilities to consider:
- Food Production — climate change will radically alter crop yields. Sudden severe changes in rainfall will create precipitous drops in food availability. While these conditions might be acute, they could have horrific short term impacts.
- Immigration — Over 1 billion people currently live in low-lying coastal areas — mostly in Asia (worldoceanreview.com). This means that our present level of displaced humans could easily increase four to ten fold in the coming decades just as a result of sea level rise. Imagine a world with a billion displaced people.
- Water Scarcity — Potable water is poised to become the world’s most desirable commodity by the middle of this century. The have-nots will be forced to re-locate or perish.
- Energy — our largest population increases in the 21st century will occur in less-developed regions such as Africa and Southeast Asia. Those areas are already the most prone to burn fossil fuels, thereby adding more carbon to our atmosphere.
- War — A persistent lack of food, water and medical care will cause mass migrations, instability and violence which will spill across borders and infect larger areas of our globe. Desperate people (and governments) do desperate things.
- Pandemic Diseases — A high population density coupled with poor sanitary conditions makes a perfect breeding ground for infectious and communicable diseases. War, poverty, climate change, mass migrations will all contribute. The more we cram together the more vulnerable we are.
It might be tempting for some to shrug off the OVER-population problem on Africa, India, China or Malaysia. After all, population growth in many European countries and Japan has been relatively small in the last 36 years:
Country 1980 2016 % Increase Total Fertility Rate*
Germany 78,000,000 82,670,000 6 1.45
France 55,000,000 67,000,000 22 1.96
England 56,000,000 65,600,000 20.7 1.83
Russia 139,000,000 144,000,000 3.6 1.67
Japan 117,000,000 127,000,000 8.5 1.44
Now let’s look at population increases from some of the countries that keep popping up in the headlines:
Nigeria 75,000,000 186,000,000 148 5.42
Sudan 19,520,000 40,000,000 105 5.05
Egypt 44,000,000 95,500,000 117 3.35
Pakistan 78,000,000 207,000,000 165 3.27
Indonesia 147,500,000 261,000,000 77 2.33
Turkey 44,000,000 79,500,000 80.6 2.07
And let’s not forget the real heavyweights:
India 700,000,000 1,324,000,000 89 2.38
China 981,000,000 1,380,000,000 41 1.66
United States 226,500,000 323,100,000 38.5 1.85
*Total Fertility Rate is the expected number of children born to a woman of that country during her child-bearing years. These numbers were an average from three studies: the ’16 World Bank; ’17 Population Reference Bureau; and ’17 CIA World Factbook.
Clearly, in the 21st century, rapid population growth/high fertility rate is a key contributor to national and regional insecurity. The simple facts confirm that most governments and economies cannot keep pace with the social and economic demands of a booming population. Worldwide we are literally breeding ourselves into catastrophe.
United States citizens can smugly claim that we have relatively low population growth and fertility rates therefore the problem lies somewhere else. But that belies the fact that per capita, Americans consume the lion’s share of the world’s natural resources. From worldpopulationbalance.org:
Per Capita Energy Consumption in named country vs. the US.
United Kingdom 1:2 (The average American uses TWICE the energy as the average Brit)
France, Germany and Japan 1:2
I couldn’t find data for countries in Africa. Safe to say, the average American uses 40, 50 maybe 100 times more energy than the average person in Africa’s poorest countries.
The point is that during the lifetime of EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN, we will use many times the energy of any other individual on our planet. China consumes slightly more energy overall as a country. But per capita, Americans are far and away the greatest energy hogs on Earth.
By every model, projection, prediction and forecast over the next several decades, our current lifestyle and way of life is unsustainable. We as citizens of the world are facing some very painful options– and the longer we wait, the more painful those options become. We can voluntarily and drastically reduce our birthrates and dynamically alter our consumption habits — in which case we may be able to mitigate the pain and suffering to humanity. Or we can move slowly (as we have been) or ignore the threat all together (as many American Conservatives prefer) in which case, we will no longer control our own fate…..it will be left to Mother Nature to do with us what she will. And Mother Nature doesn’t give a rat’s ass about humans. In fact, She may be better off without us.
We will never fully come to terms with climate change (or any of the other above-mentioned problems) unless we recognize that the engine that propels those issues is OVER – population. We need an aggressive global initative to fund woman’s pre-natal care and education; a vast network of health clinics staffed with professionals specializing in obstetrics and gynecology; a plentiful supply of safe, effective and affordable contraceptive options available to women and men world-wide; and, as an important and necessary last resort option, women must have access to safe, economic abortion procedures. These all should be VOLUNTEER procedures and services. There should never be coercion or mandates in these matters.
Countries that block these urgent health care needs should be economically and politically sanctioned and treated as pariahs in the world community. Like climate change, OVER-population is a GLOBAL problem. One country’s irresponsibility can diminish the quality of life for all of us. Part of the education process must include MEN. Men are a huge part of the problem. Men must be re-educated that they do not dominate women; own women; control women; beat or kill women; or impregnate them without consent. They also must learn that if they father children; then they must father those children either through direct involvement in their lives or by providing financial support. Our laws must be prioritized to insure these goals.
The other obstacle that must be overcome is Religion. For thousands of years, Religion has endorsed Male Domination and Control and the reckless notion of “Be Fruitful And Multiply”. These are archaic notions left over from a time when humans knew nothing about biology, ecology or science of any kind and when world population was measured in ‘millions’ of people instead of ‘billions’.
Also in the ancient world, before ”God’s order” had been altered by modern science, average human life expectancy was 40 years +/- and infant mortality rates (rates of death for fetuses in utero to babies up to 1 year old) was, in many cultures, between 20-50%! So you had to have lots of pregnancies in order to produce a family. Today’s infant mortality rates in developed countries are well under 1%.
Population dynamics are completely different today which makes practices such as large families, failure to use contraception, poor access to prenatal care, and restrictions on abortion are not only outdated but dangerous contributors to overpopulation. These provincial attitudes must end. World religions must ease up on their scriptoral interpretations of keeping women “barefoot and pregnant”. Equal rights for women will be every bit as important as carbon-free energy to mitigate the looming disasters of the 21st century.
On the other side of the life spectrum, religions must move out of the way on the issues of euthanasia and death-with-dignity. The health care system in the U.S. is going to implode under the weight of aging baby boomers. Today, there are approximately 50 million Americans 65 or older (see chart). By 2040, that number is expected to be almost 80 million! That’s only 22 years away. Does anyone in their right minds think our health care systems can handle that? This could bankrupt Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and where are we going to put all these people? End of life care is by far the most expensive type of health care — hogging up over 15% of total medical spending (De Nardi M, Jones JB, French E, McCauley J (2016). “Medical Spending of the US Elderly”. Fiscal Studies. 37 (3-4): 717–747. doi:10.1111/j.1475-5890.2016.12106)
What to do? It’s not just about the money. The entire system cannot be maintained. We must open a dialogue immediately about end-of-life options. The taboo must be lifted. Doctors and health care workers must get on board. Prescribing a dignified, voluntary death to end suffering and terminal conditions is not only an obvious solution but a necessary one as well.
This is tough medicine to swallow but we, as a country, as a specie, must understand that, right now, we have the technical and medical capability to voluntarily reduce birth rates and offer death-with-dignity options immediately, safely and affordably. It must become a global priority. Simultaneously, with dynamic, visionary thinking and innovation on climate change, alternative energies, food and water distribution, transportation and computerization, we still have a chance to preserve a reasonable quality of life for our children and grandchildren. This is no time to be hamstrung by ancient fairytales or primitive thinking. Either we use every humane yet effective way to solve or at least mitigate these problems ourselves or, over the next several decades, many millions, perhaps a billion people could die cruelly, horribly and with great suffering. The scope of devastation could touch the family and faith of every human on Earth. Don’t think for a second that being a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim is going to save your ass either. This isn’t an Armageddon, Apocalypse or the Last Days. We’re talking straight out Biological Evolution, survival of the fittest. When species overpopulate and destroy their habitats, the population is systematically reduced by the most efficient natural means possible.
If we fail to rise to this challenge our only excuses will be “we” were too deeply mired in our archaic religious superstitions; “we” were too arrogant, ignorant and selfish; “we” failed to recognize the greatest threat to human civilization even though it was staring us straight in the eyes. Future generations will judge us harshly.
This is also a moment where humans have an unprecedented opportunity to alter the course of civilization. These threats and challenges can motivate us to usher in a New Age. Countries or cultures that most aggressively pursue solutions via technology, science and production will most likely become the leaders of the 22nd century and enjoy the highest standards of living. The United States should unquestionably be among them, preferably leading them. But we can only lead by example. We cannot ask others to do that which we cannot do ourselves. Nor can we lead in innovation if we fail to recognize problem.
The United States has already begun the process of abdicating that leadership and entrepreneurship. We have done an about-face and we’re marching backward in search of a world that no longer exists. Municipalities, states and private industry are trying to fill the vacuum and their efforts are notable and should be applauded. But if America is going to lead, our government must be ALL IN. And it’s not. Americans must go to the voting booths and change that starting immediately.
What can YOU do?
— Register to vote, if you haven’t already. Nov. 2018 is less than a year away and there may be special elections in your area before then.
— Vote for smart people, who support top-flight public education, low-cost secondary education and have a basic understanding and respect for science and proven facts. Support candidates who are Pro-Women’s Equality, Pro-Choice, Pro-Contraception, Pre-Natal Care for all women, and Medical care for all children. Pro-Death with Dignity. Pro Health Care for all Americans.
— Vote also for politicians who make decisions based on the best evidence available regardless of party doctrine.
— Get involved politically to support candidates described above. Or better yet, run for office yourself!
— Reduce your carbon footprint anyway you can. Save energy and water, recycle, use alternative fuels, plant a tree or garden, don’t be wasteful, use re-usable shopping bags, cut down on eating beef, cut down on meal portions, exercise, walk more/drive less.
— Write your representatives in Congress and demand action. Feel free to send them a copy of this blog!
— Keep reading and supporting La Resistance American. We will continue to fight the battle for hearts and minds.
ANSWER YOUR FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN: WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU LEARNED OUR HUMAN HABITAT IS UNDER ASSAULT?