Archive for July, 2014

July 11 is World Population Day

“We must rapidly bring the world population under control, reducing the growth rate to zero or making it negative.” Paul R. Ehrlich

The world’s population passed 5 billion on July 11, 1987. The UN decided in 1989 to have an annual discussion regarding human population issues, but the UN is reluctant to spell out the multitude of dangers that comes with an out of control population. In many parts of the world birth control is a taboo subject, and the UN tries to get around this by often portraying  the population crisis as solely a social justice issue, which in part it is, but it is far from the whole picture.

What  is a key driver for over consumption, food and water scarcity, climate change, biodiversity loss, mass migration, impoverishment of lands and oceans, war and human poverty? Population is a key driver and the stabilization and steady decrease in births will determine whether or not civilization will survive by the end of this century. See Paul Ehrlich’s “Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?” at the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

In 1810 there were 1 billion people on the planet, 2 billion in 1930, 2.5 billion by 1950, and in  2011, 7 billion humans inhabited the Earth. Every day 227,000 people are added to the planet’s population or the equivalent of Toronto’s population is born every 13 days. By 2050 demographers project the world’s population to be over 9 billion humans.

Many times a rising population is the rationale behind the arguments given by biotechnology companies for their products: the world needs their pesticides and their seeds to feed the world. Two billion hungry people may disagree, and by making it increasingly more difficult for the poorest people to harvest their own seeds, these multinational corporations are further raising food prices as well as the spectre of mass starvation. Many bee populations are disappearing because of those products.

It is not only the poorest countries that can least afford population gains. Britain is in deep trouble. Britain is half the size of France yet it has the highest fertility rate in Europe. Rising carbon dioxide levels fueled by an ever increasing world population is already causing unprecedented flooding, making it more difficult to farm and to find enough land to build more homes.

North Americans have the largest carbon footprint on the planet. Having fewer children and a vegetarian diet will make a huge difference to that footprint.