Let’s Talk about Population

Human population has been in sharp focus since Paul and Anne Erhlich’s book, THE POPULATION BOMB, was published in 1968. It is nothing new, therefore, for scientists to worry about the effects of a sky-rocketing human population on the planet. A February 1, 2009 article in the UK, however, has definitely fueled the debate.

See the article, Two children should be the limit, says green guru. The guru is Jonathon Porritt who chairs the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission. Read the article and then do some of your own background reading on the issue.

Porritt says: ““I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate.”

What is interesting is the compendium of COMMENTS following publication of the above article. Here is a preview of some that appeared on times online in the UK:

“This is what you have when a hoax and a scam like global warming is shoved in our faces every day. All this is leading to is socialism and communism. These power hungry evil people will not be happy until they can take every penny out of your wallet, tell you how, when and where you can live.”

“This is pretty much the last straw for me. Who the hell gives anyone or any government the right to tell me how many children I can have? The socialist wave that is spreading through this planet, is a bigger threat to humanity than carbon monoxide, republicans or babies.”

“That’s it. I’m having eight children.”

“This article was the last straw. I just got married and we hadn’t thought beyond 2 children, but I will plan to have at least 5. All of the socio-economic problems we have today are not because we have been having too many children, they’re because we have been having too few.”

“‘It’s sickening that someone would even consider the environment of greater importance than family! I’m the oldest of five kids. What if my parents had decided to be “responsible” and stop at kid #2? We would have missed out on countless experiences of love and joy derived from my 3 younger siblings!”

“HA HA HA HA. A laugh for each of my four kiddos. Tell Mr. Porritt I hope his two kids roll him into a corner of a second rate nursing home and let him sit in soiled jammies! ”

“Porritt is one of these jokers who thinks people are property of their gov’t. Among civilized folk it’s quite the other around..”

“This is sheer propaganda from the OPT. Demographics is destiny, those who have the children will control the future. The only way to stop an overpopulated Britain is to drastically cut back on immigration and high birth rate foreigners.”

Examples of anxious thinking

This is anxious thinking. These comments certainly aren’t offered in the spirit of thoughtful dialogue. They clearly are uninformed comments, as well, for the global population has been growing exponentially for years. In 1990 it was 5.3 billion. Today it is more than 6.7 billion. By 2050 it is projected to be 9.2 billion.

These are startling facts when you consider the impact of another two and a half billion people paving over the remnants of the world’s greenspaces in a few short years.

Put this World Population Clock on your desktop for easy reference. This is not a socialistic wave as some would have it, considering the fact that in 1900 the world’s population was only 1.6 billion. Imagine!

Responsible citizens of the world

An important tenant of being a responsible citizen of the world is that we leave only footprints; meaning, we should pick up our trash, use natural resources wisely, take as little as possible and give back as much as possible…and…part of limiting our footprint is to procreate responsibly, which translates to having fewer babies.

The projected billions of humans in a few short years does not leave the impression of a self-responsible humanity. Having babies is not exactly a right, in fact, it probably should be legislated far more than it is. A prolific birth characterizes uneducated masses worldwide, so there is a lesson in there somewhere.

Comments like we saw above suggest a level of environmental illiteracy that should scare the daylights out of every forward thinking person. This is grist for every classroom at every level of the academe.

An important part of the learning process is to listen to what others have to say and take it in for further analysis. We don’t have to agree with everything we hear, we just have to be open to new input and contrast it with what we (assume) we already know. There is no place in the learning process for stereotypical thinking and gross emotional bias. These kinds of thought processes characterize already highly anxious individuals who feel embattled on every front. They don’t have time to think responsibly because they are too busy slaying imaginary dragons at every turn.

There is no doubt about it, population is going to have to be a focus in all future environmental campaigns. How to effect behavioral change in a generally anxious public, though, is going to be our greatest challenge.

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