Nobody talks about over-population anymore. Which is why this blog post by Nicholas Johnson is so important to be shared. When you get to the part about the number of cars on the road it cuts through your denial and makes you realize the unsustainability of it all. Posted with permission.
“After writing this I discovered 21,000 scientists agree: ‘We are jeopardizing our future … by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats.’” – Nicholas Johnson
A Global Warming Win-Win-Win
by Nicholas Johnson
Can women cool global warming?
Homo Sapiens first appeared about 300,000 years ago. We’ve been growing rather than chasing our food since 10,000 B.C. Estimates of the population then are between one and fifteen million persons.
With more food available, villages evolved and population increased dramatically.
Yet, it took until 1803 to reach one billion people. Then 124 years to reach two billion; 33 years to reach three billion; and 15 years to reach four billion.
Need I say more?
Apparently so. Because most of what we’re told about environmental change and daily disasters stops with the phrase “climate change.”
Many are willing to do their part. To borrow from the Great Depression, they “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” They become vegetarians, bicycle or walk to work, turn up the air conditioner thermostat, recycle, compost, and grow some food.
That’s good citizenship in a crisis. But it only offsets a tiny fraction of the problem.
In fact, many of our environmental problems have been created, or at least made worse, by the rapid increase in rate of human population growth. One example: Humans are responsible for a 1,000-fold increase in other species’ natural rates of extinction.
The increase to eight billion of us also multiplies potable water shortages, polluted air, deforestation, wetlands destruction, increased trash and toxic waste, depleted fisheries and finite resources, increased farm, river and ocean pollution and acidification, and the substitution of concrete for agricultural land and open spaces now under sprawling communities and 4 million miles of roads.
Human activity is not only responsible for most of the greenhouse gas CO2 since our industrial age. We have also reduced the forests and soils that could remove and store it. Our country creates the most – and at a rate seven times per person that of China, number two.
Transportation creates the largest share of U.S. emissions.
In 1922 the U.S. population of 110 million was driving 111 vehicles per 1000 people (12 million vehicles). By 2012 the population was 314 million, but the number of cars per 1000 population had gone from 111 to 808 (271 million vehicles).
Say what you will about fuel efficiency and electric vehicles, more people driving 20 times more vehicles produce more CO2.
Exponential population growth is an environmental challenge for the U.S., but especially third world countries.
Fortunately, women will naturally reduce population growth if they are provided the support they deserve: social status, economic opportunity – and education. Women (and men) with secondary education and access to contraceptives have far fewer births. They space more time between pregnancies. Plus, their children also end up with better health, quality of life, and education.
We ought to be doing this anyway. Saving our planet is a bonus.
After writing this I discovered 21,000 scientists agree: “We are jeopardizing our future … by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats.” Think about it.