• Yes, (Over)Population IS a Problem!

    From (David P.)@21:1/5 to All on Thu Aug 26 11:50:15 2021
    Yes, (Over)Population IS a Problem!
    by Alan Ware, Dave Gardner, 11/15/18, MAHB/Stanford U.

    20,000 scientists worldwide have now signed the World
    Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,
    issued in 2017. This Second Warning comes 25 years
    after the 1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity
    in which they called for stabilizing global population.
    Since 1992, we’ve added another 2 billion passengers
    to the planet while further depleting resources and
    polluting the planet.

    In the Second Notice the scientists caution that “We
    are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our
    intense but geographically and demographically uneven
    material consumption and by not perceiving continued
    rapid population growth as a primary driver behind
    many ecological and even societal threats.” They note
    that one of the main actions we can take as individuals
    includes “limiting our own reproduction.”

    20,000 scientists aren’t the only experts issuing
    existential warnings to humanity. The Global Footprint
    Network, whose Earth Overshoot Day fell on the earliest-
    ever date of Aug 1, 2018, has concluded we’re consuming
    the renewable resources of 1.7 Earths – a 70% overshoot.

    The facts of our overshoot should cause alarm. The
    20,000+ who signed the Second Warning are alarmed. The
    Global Footprint Network is alarmed. The World Wildlife
    Fund – which estimates that mammal, bird, amphibian, &
    reptile numbers have halved since 1970 – is alarmed.
    And behind the sounding of all these ecological alarm
    bells lies the fact that global population has more than
    doubled since 1970. And we’re still increasing human
    passengers on the planet by over 220,000 per day – about
    80 million per year.

    It is true, as Smaje notes, that many contemporary
    problems such as plastics in the ocean should be dealt
    with – regardless of whether sustainable population is
    achieved. But growing population and consumption are
    the ultimate causes that make many current problems
    worse and build ever-larger problems for the future.
    A declining population would provide enormous leverage
    in addressing the major problems of our age – topsoil
    & groundwater depletion, species loss, deforestation,
    ocean acidification, sea level rise, & climate change.
    In fact, most of these problems will not be solved as
    long as human population remains far above a
    sustainable level.

    In one critical area of concern, climate change, it’s
    clear that population numbers – especially in richer,
    developed countries – are critical. A 2017 study from
    Lund U. in Sweden found that an individual having one
    fewer child in a developed country would reduce their
    carbon emissions over 7 times the level of several
    other “green” actions combined: including living car-
    free, avoiding airplane travel, buying green energy,
    and eating a plant-based diet.

    Species loss & animal population declines show that
    high levels of human population do not, as Smaje
    states, “lurk somewhere behind the numerous environ-
    mental crises of our age.” Instead, hiding in plain
    sight, human numbers expanding by an additional 80
    million/year are destroying animal habitat to expand
    cropland, pastureland, & cities. The UN estimates that
    by 2050 we’ll have to increase food production 60%
    over 2009 levels in order to meet the demands of our
    swelling population. Assuming such a huge increase in
    food production is even possible, the attempt will
    surely mean the destruction of more farmland, creation
    of more ocean dead zones, depletion of more aquifers,
    & further disruption of the climate.

    Smaje claims as fact that it’s what populations do
    that matters most. We certainly agree that what
    populations do matters, but if what we’re doing is a
    problem, then the number of us doing it compounds
    the problem.

    And the sad fact is that we’re very stubborn about
    changing what we do. We’ve so far NOT demonstrated a
    willingness to consume less & reject the worship of
    economic growth in the interest of stabilizing the
    climate or preventing further destruction of
    ecosystems. This doesn’t mean we should give up on
    this solution. But it also doesn’t mean we should
    ignore a solution we HAVE demonstrated a willingness
    to do – choosing smaller families.

    There’s evidence that for all 7.6 billion of us to
    live a life we consider “decent” & “dignified,” the
    level of consumption required far exceeds most of
    the ecological “planetary boundaries” that many
    scientists believe should not be crossed if we hope
    to stick around for a while. The U. of Leeds study,
    A Good Life for All Within Planetary Boundaries,
    concluded that not a single nation is currently
    delivering a high standard of living to their
    populace while staying within all 9 planetary
    boundaries. Globally, we’re currently exceeding 4 of
    the 9 identified boundaries: climate change, loss of
    biosphere integrity, land-system change, & altered
    biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus & nitrogen runoff.

    The researchers conclude that elements of a “good
    life” that most of us in developed countries consider
    basic such as secondary education, decent health care,
    & democratic forms of governance are associated with
    consumption 2-6 times greater than a sustainable level
    at our current global population. The fact is, as
    billions of people strive to live the “good life” they
    deserve, they will consume much more. For all of us
    to enjoy the basics of the “good life” without also
    trashing the planet, there needs to be far fewer of
    us humans on the planet.


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