Scenario 1 - Disastrous As the century began, natural resources are under increasing pressure, threatening public health and development. Water shortages, soil exhaustion, loss of forests, air and water pollution, and degradation of coastlines afflict many areas. As the world's population grows, improving living standards without destroying the environment is a global challenge. Most developed economies currently consume resources much faster than they can regenerate. Most developing countries with rapid population growth face the urgent need to improve living standards. As we humans exploit nature to meet present needs, are we destroying resources needed for the future? In the past decade in every environmental sector, conditions have either failed to improve, or they are worsening: o Public health: Unclean water, along with poor sanitation, kills over 12 million people each year, most in developing countries.
Air pollution kills nearly 3 million more. Heavy metals and other contaminants also cause widespread health problems. o Food supply: Will there be enough food to go around? In 64 of 105 developing countries studied by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the population has been growing faster than food supplies. Population pressures have degraded some 2 billion hectares of arable land -- an area the size of Canada and the U. S. o Freshwater: The supply of freshwater is finite, but demand is soaring as populations grow and use per capita rises.
By 2025, when world population is projected to be 8 billion, 48 countries containing 3 billion people will face shortages. o Coastlines and oceans: Half of all coastal ecosystems are pressured by high population densities and urban development. A tide of pollution is rising in the world's seas. Ocean fisheries are being over exploited, and fish catches are down. o Forests: Nearly half of the world's original forest cover has been lost, and each year another 16 million hectares are cut, bulldozed, or burned.
Forests provide over US$400 billion to the world economy annually and are vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems. Yet, current demand for forest products may exceed the limit of sustainable consumption by 25%. o Biodiversity: The earth's biological diversity is crucial to the continued vitality of agriculture and medicine -- and perhaps even to life on earth itself. Yet human activities are pushing many thousands of plant and animal species into extinction. Two of every three species is estimated to be in decline. o Global climate change: The earth's surface is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions, largely from burning fossil fuels.
If the global temperature rises as projected, sea levels would rise by several meters, causing widespread flooding. Global warming also could cause droughts and disrupt agriculture. Scenario 2 - Hopeful As the world's population continues to grow, improving living standards without destroying the environment is becoming less and less of a global challenge. As those less developed countries economies continue to grow, people are consuming fewer resources and they are now regenerating those resources faster than ever. The developing countries are continuing to improve living standards in their respective countries at faster paces than ever before. In the coming decades, conditions are improving in greater ways and means: o Public health: Cleaner water and improved sanitation are becoming more common place.
Air pollution has greatly improved due to improvements in technology. o Food supply: Once again, due to improving technology, there will be a greater supply of food for the entire global community. And with those lesser developed countries becoming more developed, they are more able to produce more of their own food for surplus. o Freshwater: The demand for freshwater will become less and less of an issue.
Improvements of filtration of groundwater and other water sources will lead to less interest in that of freshwater which will allow for decreasing shortages. o Coastlines and oceans: Coastal ecosystems are less pressured by high population densities and urban development. Pollution is decreasing in the world's seas due to the improved sanitation. Ocean fisheries are prospering due to the improved measures that are taken to restock the once dwindling ocean resources.
o Forests: With improved technology, it is easier than ever to maintain and even improve on the amount of forestry. More trees are being planted and grown, while larger areas are being converted into new forests. As stated earlier, forests provide over US$400 billion to the world economy annually and are vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems. Future demands for forestry products will not even exceed 25% of consumption.
o Biodiversity: As stated earlier, the earth's biological diversity is crucial to the continued vitality of agriculture and medicine -- and perhaps even to life on earth itself. The global population has realized the importance of plant and animal species and has begun to reproduce those plant and animal species which were once on the verge of extinction. o Global climate change: The earth's surface has begun to cool due to the lowered amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The global temperature will begin to decrease and sea levels would remain at a normal level.
The once feared issue of global warming will become nothing more than a distant memory. Scenario 3 - Wildcard In this third scenario, I have decided to use for my wildcard the Global Abortion Act. Of course there is no such thing as the Global Abortion Act, so that is why I have created it for the third part of this project. The Global Abortion Act will come into existence in the year 2015.
This act will make it legal for every woman throughout the world to have an abortion if she so desires. All governments have decided to implement this act into place to help fight the problem of global population growth. o Public health: With this new act in place, there will be a decline in health problems overall due to the decreased amount of births. In past circumstances in which abortion is not against the law, abortion was not safe. This measure will help to prevent unnecessary deaths of women from unsafe abortion. This will also allow for a more balanced birth / death ratio.
o Food supply: Due to the decrease in population growth, there will be an abundance of available food to be distributed to those countries that are most in need. o Freshwater: The demand for freshwater will become less and less of an issue once again due to the fact that with globally accepted abortions, there will be a drastic decrease in population growth. o Coastlines and oceans: Coastal ecosystems and oceans will be virtually unaffected by the Global Abortion Act. The improvements would be that fewer coastlines will be transformed into housing properties due to the decrease in population growth. Oceans will continue to improve and thrive with less people available to travel. o Forests: Forestry will turn an about face with this new global act.
With fewer people being brought into the world, which will mean that less forestry will be needed for destruction due to housing, paper mill work and excavation for business. People will be able to improve the current conditions of our global forests and continue to build upon them. o Biodiversity: With the global population realizing the importance of plant and animal species, and due to the Global Abortion Act which shall result in a decrease in population growth, those persons will be able to embrace those plant and animal species which they had all but thrown to the waste side in the past. o Global climate change: The earth's surface will also begin to cool due to the lowered amount of population worldwide. The global temperature will begin to decrease due to the fact that the fewer people there are throughout the world, the less space will be taken up, and fewer automobiles will be needed for transportation. Global warming will be a distant memory.
For most of human history, up to around 10 thous and years ago (generally accepted by science, although some place the time a few thousand years earlier), Earth's human population remained stabilized at around 8 to 10 million. Since then it has grown, at varying rates, to reach its present level of over 6, 200 million (6. 2 billion). This growth started when people began to grow crops and domesticate animals, which initiated the change from hunter / gatherer subsistence (natural food supply) to a technology-driven food supply (agriculture). We note that about 620 (or more) humans are alive today (most supported by agricultural technology) for every one human who was supported by the natural food supply of early non-technological Earth. The more recent 'explosive' growth, which causes serious population growth problems and environmental problems, is due to much more than just advances in agricultural technology.
Among other factors is the decrease in the death rate due to advances in medicine and sanitation. The table and bar chart that follows shows world human population in millions, in 50-year intervals, since the year 1750. Year Population 1750 790 million 1800 980 million 1850 1, 260 million 1900 1, 650 million 1950 2, 555 million 2000 6, 080 million (data from United Nations and Bureau of Census) The next table and bar chart shows world human population in millions, in 10-year intervals, since 1950. Year Population 1950 2, 555 million 1960 3, 039 million 1970 3, 707 million 1980 4, 457 million 1990 5, 284 million 2000 6, 080 million (data from Bureau of Census) Earth's present human population is 6, 515, 095, 330 million (6: 04 pm, April 20, 2005) and growing at a rate of 3 persons per second. (web - current world population counter) Using the numbers above, we see that human population increased by a factor of 1. 84 (just less than doubled) in the 60-year period from 1900 to 1960.
It doubled (roughly) in the 40-year period from 1960 to 2000. In absolute numbers, the picture is more revealing. In the 60-year period from 1900 to 1960, human population increased by 1, 389 million. In the 40-year period from 1960 to 2000, it increased by 3, 041 million. Consider that recent 'doubling in 40 years' for the period 1960 to 2000 (increase of just over 3 billion). This is an average increase of 75 million per year - or about 205, 000 per day, 8, 500 per hour, and 140 per minute.
Now consider the 10-year period from 1990 to 2000. The increase for that period is 796 million. This is an average increase of 79. 6 million per year - or about 218, 000 per day, 9, 100 per hour, and 150 per minute. Many predict a slowing of growth in the future, even near future. Certainly that is possible.
Either societies will, using one method or several methods, decrease the worldwide birth rate, or nature will eventually increase the death rate (using its own methods of "natural selection"). Environmental problems, starvation and new and treatment-resistant diseases rank high among nature's methods for dealing with population growth problems. To look at reasons of overpopulation on a more local level, the main reasons for the increase in population in the U. S. comes down to two factors: o Fertility Immigration The U.
S. - at a population of 292 million in 2004 and the world's highest-consuming country - is projected to grow to over 570 million this century. This demographic time bomb can be avoided, but only if both causes of population growth (fertility and immigration) are addressed. Consumption levels must also be reduced in order to achieve an environmentally sustainable society. The United States, at a population of over 291 million, is the world's third most populous country, after China and India, and has the highest population growth rate of all industrialized countries. Fertility, or births per woman, contributes to our population growth and must be addressed in order to achieve population stabilization.
Each year there are approximately 4 million births in the U. S. and 2. 4 million deaths. The growth due to natural increase (total births minus deaths) is therefore 1. 6 million per year.
Yet according to the Census Bureau's decennial census, U. S. population is growing by approximately 3. 3 million per year. The United States, at a population of over 291 million, is the world's third most populous country, after China and India, and has the highest population growth rate of all industrialized countries. Fertility, or births per woman, contributes to our population growth and must be addressed in order to achieve population stabilization.
Each year there are approximately 4 million births in the U. S. and 2. 4 million deaths. The growth due to natural increase (total births minus deaths) is therefore 1.
6 million per year. Yet according to the Census Bureau's decennial census, U. S. population is growing by approximately 3. 3 million per year.
The fertility of most developing countries is decreasing, but because of population momentum, their populations will continue to increase throughout most of this century. It is therefore especially important to offer significant family planning assistance now to high-fertility countries, mainly that of the U. S. Unless we act to change our country's immigration policies, U. S. population will double this century - practically within the lifetimes of children born today.
By the year 2020, if current population trends continue, the U. S. will add enough population to create another New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Indianapolis, San Jose, Memphis, Washington D. C. , Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Boston, Columbus, New Orleans, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, and El Paso, plus the next 75 largest cities in the U. S.
- if we don't act now to stabilize U. S. population. Immigration is the largest factor contributing to population growth in the U. S.
Immigration contributes over 2. 25 million people to the U. S. population annually (1.
5 million legal immigrants and illegal immigrants as of 2001-2002, now estimated at 1. 7 million in 2003) plus 750, 000 births to immigrant woman annually). The total foreign-born population in the U. S. is now 31. 1 million, a record 57% increase since 1990.
9-11 million of those are here illegally - a 4. 5 million increase since 1990. The facts are clear. To preserve and protect our environment, we in the U. S. must acknowledge the large part that current immigration numbers play in U.
S. population growth and acknowledge the need for lower levels of immigration into the U. S. The Statue of Liberty states, "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses." This unfortunately does not work for the U. S. anymore.
If we as a country do not stop the influx of immigrants into the U. S. , we ourselves will run the risk of becoming an extinct nation. Clearly, we are not able to solve the world's population problems by attempting to absorb their excess population. Because our high resource consumption is exacerbated by our intake of immigrants, our population growth is compromising the environmental futures of not just our own country, but of the rest of the world - those same countries from which we extract resources. U.
S. population has grown by 1. 2% per year over the last 50 years. This 'low' growth rate means it has taken only 58 years for our population to double. We can expect this doubling to continue, drastically magnified by the impact of unrealistically high levels of mass immigration. Rate of Population Increase Years Required to Double Population 0.
01% 6, 9300. 1% 6930. 5% 1391. 0% 701.
5% 472. 0% 352. 5% 282. 8% 253. 0% 233. 5% 204.
0% 18 Science and technology, and, yes, politics, may 'handle' population growth problems and environmental problems in the short term even if human population continues to grow. But what kind of world will our great-great-grandchildren inherit? Eventually global population must be controlled, but the longer society waits, the more exceedingly harsh the method and the greater the price to be paid in terms of environmental problems and human lifestyles if action is not taken sometime in the near future.