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Billions and Counting – population peril

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

The topic of our rapidly growing population is certainly a sticky mess. No politician and very few people will touch it – I almost didn’t on this blog. But, here goes.

Reproduction is the root of life, but as our planet moves towards a population of 9 billion people, it becomes a simple matter of another one of nature’s systems – supply and demand. As one of the century’s most influential scientists, James Lovelock, concludes (in a feature article on climate change published in this month’s issue of Rolling Stone Magazine), “We have just exceeded all reasonable bounds in numbers. And from a purely biological view, any species that does that has a crash.”

Not many things can have as immediate an effect on the sustainability issues of our time like a decrease in population. Air quality, landfill space, carbon emissions, food shortage, water shortage, crime, health risks – you name it, the overpopulation problem is involved.

What is a human-centric world to do? Granted, we can’t resort to implementing frightening controls or laws, but how about a bigger push for awareness that allows people to make informed, personal and practical choices? Providing more programs that address birth control in developing countries as well as in school systems everywhere can address both population and health issues. Some European countries have recently achieved a balanced or declining birth rate – it’s indeed possible. This is a touchy subject, but a necessary one.

From a young age, I made the conscious decision to not have biological children in direct response to overpopulation issues (as well as the feeling that I did not wish to try to raise a child in competition with the overwhelming materialism and constricts of this culture). I don’t expect this to be the popular choice for many, but for those who have joined me, I encourage you to follow whatever path calls to you rather than what society, or even biology, dictates or expects. Although the child-free choice itself is sometimes subject to a cultural stigma, there’s not much truth in it. As we all know, there are many ways (including adoption) to fulfill a life purpose and contribute outside of yourself other than procreation. Be open to them all and consider all the issues and make a conscious and practical choice.

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4 Responses to “Billions and Counting – population peril”

  1. Greg Gillette Says:

    Very well written. I and many of friends feel the same. There are too many people, and the world is quite out of balance. Some people do not want to raise children because society has become too materialized and competitive.


  2. Leslie Says:

    I have a 5 year old daughter, and everyday I ask myself what kind of world is she going to have?

  3. tao Says:

    Thanks for your comments. Although I know the facts regarding the future and they ain’t pretty, I prefer to dwell in the hopeful possibilities that surround us. We have many of the answers available to our culture through technology, science and a willingness to accept a slower, healthier world at the expense of our luxurious and convenient lifestyles. It’s a hard sell, but many of us are starting to get it and realize the many personal and worldly benefits of “going back to the future.”

    This is a difficult time, but if we face it with excitement for change and with determination, I believe we can make it work! Tao

  4. dhanishattuck Says:

    There is a really lame movie called ‘Idiocracy’ that makes a point in the first few minutes that one has to consider…

    ….while the Jerry Stifelman crowd is not making tons of babies – the Jerry Springer crowd IS.

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