We Must Stop Overpopulation and Pollution of Our Environment
Once we humans hit on the idea of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, we had a means for exponentially increasing our population. Even as mere 2-legged, wingless creatures, humans could expand to cover the world, and pull from the earth nutrients to support this massive layer of people. The population increase has continued, and there are disagreements as to if and when the increase will end. The number of people on this earth is the indirect problem; more directly, the problem is that 6.3 billion people need a lot of food to survive, and the earth can only support so much. The industrial character of our societies on this earth means that our existence is give and take: we take minerals from the soil and from the depths of the earth, and trees and water from the surface, and we give back all sorts of wastes.
Whether or not our enormous population is actually overpopulation, and thus a problem, is debated. Some theories predict futures of doom, in which our population is finally stabilized by widespread death, while others believe that our population will stabilize before the situation is anywhere near that morbid. (Southwick; Dolan) Whatever the population will do in the future, the fact remains that the amount of people we have on the earth now have a tremendous impact on the environment, in terms of both human actions and the space that humans take up. (Southwick) Furthermore, a large amount of people creates a demand for a large amount of energy and products, and the methods we use to fulfill the demands heavily impact the environment as well. While some of the problems of industrialization have been widely noticed and some have been solved, many remain unrecognized or ignored. Luckily, people seem to be becoming more and more aware of the environment, and methods of production may change to fit this perspective.
According to Southwick, scientists have used information on the availability of agricultural land, energy resources, pollution control and sustainability to calculate the optimal human population on earth to be 2 billion. The earth could and does support many more people than that, but even now there are problems of poverty, malnutrition, conflict and environmental deterioration. (Southwick) In most developed and developing countries, birth rates and death rates have fallen, but because death rates have fallen faster, population increase has resulted. (Several countries in Europe have reached or are near zero population growth, and so are exceptions to this general rule.) (Southwick) Thus, the world is looking at an even more excessive human population.
In “Coping with the Population Explosion,” Edwin Dolan comments that as the human population has increased, advances have been made in both agriculture and industrial technology, and so the earth is able to support more people than ever before. (Dolan) But even if we are able to more efficiently use the...