The Common Denominator
By Emily Spence
03/26/07 “ICH ” — – Jared Diamond, E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins and many other reputable scientists from diverse fields cite human overpopulation as a root cause of many seemingly disparate, catastrophic problems that our planet, currently, faces. Whether the issue is extinction of an inordinate number of species over a small period of time, warfare over resources, ruin of all oceans through acidification, inevitable loss of major energy sources (i.e., oil and coal), massive migration by large segments of various social groups, ozone layer depletion, global warming, worldwide loss of potable water, large-scale increase in various kinds of poisonous pollution, an overwhelming proliferation of waste materials or any number of other severe myriad indicators, every one of these dilemmas point to one common denominator — too many people using up too much before it can be replenished or before alternative sources are put in place (i.e., for oil, minerals, coal, etc.).
However, governmental and other world leaders are surprisingly silent when it comes to citing overpopulation as an ultimate cause of sweeping planetary destruction. In the same vein, they don’t strive to find a workable solution. Indeed, many, instead of expending lavish amounts of money on developing feasible substitutes for oil and coal or encouraging universal access to birth control, choose to spend funds in enormously expensive war efforts.
Deep down and whether it is publicly announced or not, we all know the covert reason for these actions. It is simply a bid to garner the last remaining vestiges of oil or other resources for their own country’s citizens at the expense of others. How shortsighted and brutal is that?
Meanwhile, is there an absolute limit to human growth — a finite carrying capacity for earth? Yes. How long can earth’s natural support systems sustain exponential expansion? This is not known and, to a certain extent, the answer is dependent on the way that we want to live and the types of surrounding environments that we want to have. Dystopian films, like “Soylent Green,” point out this fact all too clearly — presenting a warning that is terrifyingly clear.
In any case, information about and realistic solutions for the ravages of overpopulation desperately need to be examined on a global scale. Attempting to address the symptoms — the assorted environmental dilemmas and social conflicts that are signs of this larger crisis — is simply not enough!
Emily Spence resides in Massachusetts and deeply cares about the future of our world.