Too Little, Too Late? Research Paper Sample
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Discussing the Sustainability of the Human Population
The human population of the planet is estimated at 7 billion, and that number is expected to double by 2100; that is an immense increase in a hundred year period. This has led experts and environmentalists to question whether or not the current populations are sustainable. The answer is no, in fact, there are many who feel that it is already too late, the damage is done and little that can be done now will make a significant and positive impact. The human population sky-rocketed for a couple of reasons, humans defy evolutionary factors in the modern era and the discoveries and innovation of modern medicine. Others however, offer that there are alternatives, some more controversial than others, that could help to offer a better future and sustainable society for the generations to come; these included accepting GMO foods, growing their own food crops, restricting the number of offspring produced, and embracing energy alternatives. The 7 billion people on this planet are at a pivotal point in history, ideally humanity will choose wisely.
There is no other species of biological animal that is more abundant and more far spread the human race. Human beings have accomplished many amazing things that have allowed societies all across the globe to flourish, in varying environments and ecosystems. Over the years human beings have improved technologically and intellectually, which has led to a comfortable level of conveniences, healthier practices, and medicinal interventions and continue to grow in number. There are 7 billion people living in the world today; this high population has raised some ecological “red flags” that require serious consideration (The World Population Organization, 2014). Many environmentalist, naturalists, and researchers ask the question, is the human population growth rate sustainable? Unfortunately the answer to that question is a foreboding no. In fact, not only is the population not sustainable, but it may already have surpassed what would be considered sustainable 3 times over. This lack of sustainability translates into future considerations of how can we fix the problems, how can we prevent the same problems in the future and is it even possible to repaired it? The reality is, however, that the potential solutions could require many drastic changes and individual sacrifices that many people may not be willing to take. If that is the case then the end of human societies all across the globe will suffer great losses and lack of resources in that future.
In the beginnings of human civilizations from the development of the wheel to the first experiments with fire and from the discovery of antibiotics to the first functioning computers, no human being was thinking that they hope that their innovations are the undoing of humanity. Of course, none of these discoveries, advantages and advances was intended to benefit and improve the conditions of mankind. However, as the millennia passed, these advantages and innovations have become a double-edged sword. There have been benefits, but, also, consequences for those benefits. Today we are seeing those consequences and anticipate the worsening of those conditions unless tangible and effective changes are made. A great deal of this can be directly contributed to the population of human beings in the world today. When there were only a couple of million people then the natural resources were less taxed, however, today there 7 billion people and that number is expected to rise to, as high as, 11 billion people by the start of the 22nd century (Main, 2014). That is nearly double what it is today and already we see the continual drain on the world around us.
There are two key aspects of modern human beings that have allowed the populations to soar throughout the ages; controlling evolution and modern medicine. Human beings are no longer bound by the natural evolution that occurs all around them. Human beings are no longer required, particularly in developed countries, to adapt to their environment; instead human beings force their environments to adapt to their needs. For example, when it is cold we turn on the heat and when it is hot we cool-off with air conditioning. We adapt the land to meet our needs so our survival in varying environments sky-rocket. The second major allowance that has lead to the overpopulation of mankind is the continuing discoveries in modern medicine. As we have learned new means to heal diseases and injuries that would have claimed their lives a century ago, mortality rates have dropped. People have access to better health and therefore live a lot longer (Dragovic, 2013). In the Middle Ages if one lived to be 40 they were considered elderly; today there are people living to be 90 and, even, 100 years old. If fewer people are dying and people continue to be born, then is it any wonder that the population has soared as it has, leaving modern man to recognize, repair and prevent these damages.
Understanding how the population of humanity truly influences the world around them is being seen more and more every day. The more people the more resources needed to house, clothe and feed that number. The human race as a whole is already consuming, at least, 50% more than the Earth can produce. Statistics argue a single human being residing in a developed society, like the United States, uses the equivalent of 20 acres of land and water per year. In the end, the mathematics show that this equates to the population of the United States alone would actually required 5 Earths to meet the demand on the resources of just this one nation (The World Population Organization, 2014) As the resources deplete we will see terrible repercussion reflected in the environment. Fuel will dwindle, food will be scarce and the natural world, as humanity knew it, would be changed and altered in some, very likely, irreparable ways. After all, humanity has not just used available resources; they have polluted their environments, which also will limit those environments future success (Dragovic, 2013). The loss of biodiversity will lead to the diminishment of many animal, insect, and plant species, which will result in a crippled and unsustainable human race.
There are studies conducted that feel that the idea of the loss of sustainability is not something that we can prepare for, because it is already happening. Human population is triple what would be considered sustainably feasible (The World Population Organization. 2014). There is also, a theory that says that even a pandemic, an apocalyptic disease that could effectually “wipe-pout” half or 2/3 of the population, would not make any differences; this would be a temporary reprieve. Humanity would simply, quickly repopulate an already taxed world; which would leave them in a similar position that they are in today (Main, 2014). The solution to the overpopulation of humanity is a complex one and it will require participation of human beings as a whole to “do their part.” That said there are a few suggestions that have been made that could at least have a significant impact on the unsavory results of present overpopulation statistics.
Alternative Resources: The “going green” movement suggests that humanity needs to eliminate our dependents on fossil fuels and non-sustainable energy sources and embrace more “eco-friendly” alternatives. Wind and solar power has become a reasonable alternative to those needs. If human populations only continue to grow then it is the responsibility of humanity to do in a means that will benefit the species in the long term, if not then the fate of humanity may be a rather unpleasant one in the future (Stephenson, Newman & Mayhew, 2010).
Planned Parenting and Reproductive Restriction: Many experts argue that there is a need for more major nations to adopt a similar policy that exists in China regarding reproduction. Such acts would limit the number of children an individual can have. Of course, this option, particularly in the United States, is ethically questionable. United States citizens are not accustomed to having the government tells you how many children one can have. However, as the experts explain it is not about imposing an unethical law upon the masses, but humanity needs to embrace the logic in order to guarantee that the Earth is one where future generations can survive (Stephenson, Newman & Mayhew, 2010).
Self Sustaining: The human population of the world relies on manufactured goods and food products. This adds to the lack of sustainability, after all, fossil fuels are needed to process, prepare, and transport those products. By buying locally grown foods or create a garden of their own to supplement on processed foods that are damaging to environments could be beneficial (Bradshaw & Brook, 2014).
Genetically Modified Foods: One of the most controversial of considerations that humanity must consider, when the world is forewarning the populations that it can no longer provide the needs being demanded from it. GMOs have been around for generations. These altered plants are able to produce their own natural pesticides, protecting the crops, grow in less hospitable environments and offer varieties that require less water, which produced healthy foods and is less taxing on the water supplies (Stephenson, Newman & Mayhew, 2010).
All of the aforementioned solutions are not quick “fixes” and would require a period of time before the effects begin to be seen on a global scale (Bradshaw & Brook, 2014). Restricting childbirth is never going to be well-received, Alternative resources are costly initially, but effective regardless. Self sustaining is beneficial on the small scale, but it does endorse self motivation. It is GMOS that, by and large, is the most controversial. Many people are fearful of eating anything that has been genetically changed and lead to unforeseen side effects. However, others argue that it is there is not direct evidence to prove that there is anything inherently unhealthy or dangerous about GMO foods.
Human beings are not evil, but they can be wasteful and entitled. The seriousness of overpopulation a frightening one and it is and will continue is reflected in damage and disrepair of the natural world. In the end, the question posed is whether or not the current populations of humanity are at a sustainable level, Unfortunately, It is not. Overpopulation is a serious issue. It will deplete human resources and securities. The only way to make a dent in the unfavorable statistics is curbing the number of children people opt to have, that mankind can embrace the modern alternative of solar, sun and home grown and GMO food options are embraced. The planet is the human home, if we trash it, the new generations may find that nature, and Mother Earth will not survive. However, there is still slivers of hope, if sustainable alternative are adhered to and “greener” applications are decided then it is possible that it is not, too little, too late. The 7 billion people on this planet are at a pivotal point in history, ideally humanity will choose wisely.
Bradshaw, C. J. A., & Brook, B. W. (2014). Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems. PNAS, 111(46), 16610–16615.
Dragovic, D. (2013, July 11). Sustainability and the world population: What is our global limit? read more at http://livinggreenmag.com/2013/07/11/people-solutions/sustainability-and-the-world-population-what-is-our-global-limit/
Main, D. (2014, October 24). Even a pandemic wouldn’t create a 'sustainable' population, study says. Newsweek, 1. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/even-pandemic-wouldnt-create-sustainable-population-study-says-280338
Stephenson, J., Newman, K., & Mayhew, S. (2010). Population dynamics and climate change: what are the links?. Journal of Public Health, 32(2), 150-156.
The World Population Organization. (2014). Current population is three times the sustainable level. Retrieved from http://www.worldpopulationbalance.org/3_times_sustainable
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