"We Have An Environmental Crisis Because We Have A People Crisis - A Crisis of Population Growth, of Wasteful Consumption of Resources, and A Crisis of Apathy and Inaction."
An environmental crisis is an emergency concerned with the place in which every human lives - the environment. A people crisis is an emergency with the community that inhabits the world environment. A crisis of population growth is a turning point where the environment can no longer sustain the amounts of people which it contains. A crisis of apathy and inaction is one where the human race cannot be motivated to solve the problems with the environment that they themselves have created.
The claim that we have an environmental crisis because we have a people crisis is valid because our environmental problems have largely resulted from population growth, which has lead to apathy and inaction with regard to the wasteful consumption of resources. Examples are the desertification of the Sahel in Africa, the one child policy in China and the mis-management of our oceans.
The Sahel is a strip of land that extends for more than 6000 kilometres across the southern edge of the Sahara desert. It stretches from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia and Somalia in the east. These nations are among the world's poorest.
The area is one of social and biophysical crisis because of the way the population are forced to live; they are destroying the productivity of the land. The alarming rate of population growth and ever increasing pressure on the land have initiated an expansion of desert-like conditions into the Sahel - a process called desertification.
Traditionally, the people of the drier, northern Sahel followed a nomadic lifestyle, constantly moving their herds of cattle, sheep and goats over large areas in the search for suitable grazing land. These movements prevented overgrazing and lessened the likelihood of land degradation. With increasing human numbers, the increased intensity of land use, and the harvesting of trees and scrub for fuel wood threaten to overwhelm the region's fragile environment and result in permanent ecological damage and declining standard of living.
During the 20th century 3.9 billion people have been added to the world's population.
This is an increase of 244%. Rapid growth occurred because of the improvement of living conditions, reduced child mortality rates and increased life expectancy.
The population of undeveloped nations will continue to grow in the foreseeable future because at present 45% of the population is under 15 years of age.
In the North the population growth is slowing down because children are considered an expense. In Italy, Germany and Austria, the growth rate is negative.
The slowdown in population growth is a result of the lower fertility rates that have accompanied improvements in the quality of people's lives and the increasing use of contraceptives throughout the South. As peoples' economic well-being improves they tend to have less children.
Future efforts to control population growth will depend on the North's capacity to share the world's resources and the ability of poor nations to improve the quality of life experienced by their people.
At the beginning of this century there were some 426 million people living in China. This has resulted in a country that has endured the demographic effects of devastating famines, wars, and epidemics for millennia; the population growth and change that occurred in the 20th century is unprecedented.
By the year 2000, the Chinese population is officially projected to top the 1.3 billion mark. About two-thirds of this 900 million increase was added within the last 50 years, as mortality was reduced amid high fertility rates.
The Chinese government has been moved by this "demographic affluence" to curb fertility. China's strategic demographic initiatives (SDI) were contrived out of this need. The...