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Friday, March 17, 2017

Human Population and Our Planet

Human Population & Our Planet

     Per our textbook: “Essential Biology with Physiology by Campbell” studied here at South University, on page: four hundred and twenty-two it states: “The human population grew rapidly during the 1900s and is currently more than seven billion. A shift from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates has lowered the rate of growth in more developed countries. In developing nations, death rates have dropped, but birth rates are still high.” ~End quote.

     The study of population size, density, and distribution is called demography. Over one hundred thousand years ago, there were fewer than a billion people on this planet we call home. As we look at it today, there are over six billion. 

     Because of collective learning, humans are different than animals. As humans, we create the ability to innovate. 

     Humans will often reach a limit and find themselves over populating an area, but then we will innovate and create. With this new technology, say gas, or electric, or even a new dam to sustain the water in a certain area, we move onto a new area, and begin populating it as well. This is how we as humans have kept surviving. With the new area, we’ve developed a new skill, and now we advance even further. Per se, the dam that we have created allowing the water to well up, will allow us to learn to wash our clothes, and then forge on creating water ways into our homes, and then after that sewer systems and water plants. With this innovation, comes jobs for more people, and growth.

     Population growth has by no means always been smooth. Over the long term, demographic dips have occurred, some of them severe. Recent genetic research in human DNA has shown that about on hundred thousand years ago, the existing human population took a headlong dive. We can only assume about the reasons for this decline, but it may have left as few as ten thousand adult men and women in the world. Yes, the entire world, because of catastrophe and even weather conditions. Humans suffered in the beginning, learning how to survive was far from easy for a brand-new race of beings.

     In the sixteenth century, the Indian population of the Americas may have dropped as much as ninety five percent. The principal cause was contact with people from Eurasia and Africa, who carried a variety of infectious diseases previously unknown in the Western Hemisphere. In the twentieth century, wars, revolutions, genocides, epidemics, and famines have carried off tens of millions of people within periods of as little as a single year. None of these disasters, however, offset the accelerating population growth of recent times, even for a short time.

     Much until 1804 the human population was kept in check by disease, climate fluctuations, and many other social factors. It was shortly after that, that humans learned how to grow, and how to do it successfully. We created vaccines, we learned what kinds of things were causing ailments, the earth had finally stopped changing as much, and finally we could advance. In doing so, we managed to start growing and death seemed to stop. 

     Then there were babies born in 1946, more than ever before: three point four million, twenty percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another three point eight million babies were born; three point nine million were born in 1952; and more than four million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally ended. By then, there were seventy-six point four million “baby boomers” in the United States. They made up almost forty percent of the nation’s population. 

     What caused the “baby boom?” This seems to be argument still, but if you honestly look at what was happening prior, the recovery of the ‘great depression’ does seem more logical than anything. Others argue it was communism and they were trying to fight the ‘cold war’ and build up the population. 

     Life expectancy has jumped from 1960 increasing us to live another twenty years. This means while we are living another twenty years longer, we are still consuming, breathing, doing, wasting, and doing. Sure, to us it seems like a good thing, but to our Earth it does not. 

     Per the Global Footprint Network: “Today humanity uses the equivalent of one point five to provide resources we use to absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.”

     Allow me to explain something a little easier to grasp, if I may: an American has an ecological footprint almost nine times larger than an Indian—so while the population of India far exceeds that of the United States, in terms of environmental damage, it is the American consumption of resources that is causing the higher level of damage to the planet. 

     Now mind you, those of you who have witnessed those commercials, “Feed this hungry child for two cents a day and we’ll send you the child’s photo…” The places that are like this, are lands that not in America. Though, yes, there are hungry and starved Children in America, there are no where as many. Overseas, you will find starving children who are literally in need of nutrition and vitamins and medical care. 

     Now if we as American’s and as humans are sending money and people over there to inoculate, and feed these starving children, will eventually their population be sustainable? Will they be able to make it on their own? I know we are also educating them, and clothing them, and showing them the ways of ‘our world’ if you will. Is this a good thing? In the long run, they will be generating more waste, and populating more. As well as living longer. Is this good for our planet? Do we even know or care? I don’t think so, I think humans think like this: “Take care of the needy. These people are in need. The planet will take care of itself.” Guess what? The planet cannot take care of itself, if ‘we’ are destroying it quicker than it can repair itself.

     Humans are now seeing the damage they are causing, thanks to places like “Global Footprint Network” as well as other agencies that are seeing, and even feeling the impact we are causing on our planet, humans are starting to make changes. 

     We are creating birth control products that can last up to three years. This is a step in the over population, we are trying to stop the population. Many people have even deemed themselves worthy of vasectomies and tubal’s, to be certain births will stop. Adoptions are being used for the children already in the network, no matter their age, parents who cannot conceive are encourage to adopt first. The risk of trying infertility medications usually causes complications including more than one child at a time. This is a risk, and parents are discouraged, but this step does not always work. 

    Along with this, the public is being educated about the environment, about waste, about the mistakes we have made in the past and are continuing to make. 

     Another step includes a simple one: manners: less is more. Meaning, number one, if your parents have taught you this like most of us have learned: “Don’t eat with your eyes.” In other words, if you are still hungry afterwards, then you can go back for seconds. Also: “Waste not want not.” I remember hearing when I was growing up: “Clean your plate, there are starving kids in Africa who wish they could have your food right now.” Some of those sayings are helpful. However, if you have a parent who over filled your plate themselves, and told you to clean your plate, then you overate. The size of an adult hand is a serving size. Remember that. 

     Another thing that we could be doing is: taking shorter showers, or for some we could even shower or bathe together when it comes to Children. Again, the saying is less is more.

     What is ‘Carrying Capacity’? It is just like it sounds. If you have ever been on an elevator, it tells you its ‘carrying capacity’ usually around a ton or two. The Earth has a capacity limit as well, just as you do, or you will gain or lose weight yourself. 

     Carrying capacity defined within its population is as follows:  a population’s carrying capacity is the size at which a population can no longer grow due to lack of supporting resources. All populations have a carrying capacity. Just as I have mentioned your human body, once you take it to its carrying capacity, it then starts to look obese or fat. It is then too full and beyond its capacity. With population expected to reach nine point five billion by 2050, many wonder if our natural resources can keep up with our growing demands.

     With our planets continued growth people worry that population growth will eventually cause an environmental catastrophe. But you see: the problem is bigger and more complex than just counting bodies, as I have tried to explain within my wording to you here.

     Did you know forests have almost disappeared because we needed to clear them to plant more crops, to give animals a place to graze and to supply us with wood and other raw materials? Here we are humans destroying our home, thinking it is all justifiable, when in the long run, it is not. 

     Ecological restoration is expensive. Can countries afford to do it? And can they afford not to? Is it too late? And shouldn’t we at least try to help repair the damage that we have caused? To repair the damages humans have already caused can cost billions of dollars, look at the Everglade project in Florida currently in 2016 for example. Then again, look at the repair we do when hurricanes and tornadoes come in. FEMA is spending millions to repair the damage there, caused naturally, but here again: maybe that natural disaster is the Earth giving us a sign. A burp like in the beginning of time, when the planet was full of gases. It is high time for change, and everyone has an opinion about it. Would we be causing more damage, or should we do it? In order to make a repair, can we be causing more damage still. And the final question, is the repair we are doing, the right one, on the right path? Only time will tell, but do we even have time?

     Foretelling the future is difficult: Ehrlich's 1981 prediction that half of Earth's species would be lost by the year 2000 now looks more than a little hyperbolic. Still, Farley advises applying a precautionary principle: "We should not be standing at the edge of the precipice; we should be moving back from it."

References: 2017 Global Footprint Network

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