If you feel you’re not doing enough for the environment by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED lights and composting your kitchen garbage, maybe you’re ready to make a deeper commitment to environmental stewardship. Some of these strategies may seem a little radical, but they are among the most valuable actions you can take to protect and preserve Earth’s environment. •
Have Fewer Children—or None
Overpopulation is arguably the world’s most serious environmental problem, because it exacerbates all of the others. The global population grew from 3 billion in 1959 to 6 billion in 1999, an increase of 100 percent in just 40 years. According to current projections, the world population will expand to 9 billion by 2040, a slower growth rate than during the last half of the 20th century but one that will leave us with many more people to accommodate. Planet Earth is a closed system with limited resources—only so much fresh water and clean air, only so many acres of land for growing food. As the world population grows, our resources must stretch to serve more and more people. At some point, that will no longer be possible. Some scientists believe we have already passed that point. Ultimately, we need to reverse this growth trend by gradually bringing the human population of our planet back down to a more manageable size. This means more people must decide to have fewer children. This may sound pretty simple on the surface, but the drive to reproduce is fundamental in all species and the decision to limit or forgo the experience is an emotional, cultural or religious one for many people. In many developing countries, large families can be a matter of survival. Parents often have as many children as possible to ensure that some will live to help with farming or other work, and to care for the parents when they are old. For people in cultures like these, lower birth rates will only come after other serious issues such as poverty, hunger, poor...
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