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World Population Crisis - Is the Growth Sustainable?

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I write about things I find interesting, and although I am not an expert, I have fun learning as I research. I hope you like the results!

Can the population crisis be averted?

Can the population crisis be averted?

Reasons for the Growth Increase

Dan Brown’s superb novel Inferno brought my attention to one of the biggest problems facing mankind today—the population crisis.

We are seeing unprecedented levels of growth in many countries around the world due to

  • Increased levels of medical treatment, including vaccination.
  • Better social care systems.
  • Advancements in technology and machinery that make life easier for many.
  • Decreased levels of infant mortality.
  • An increase in life expectancy.

The Story So Far

Prior to the 1800s, the population of the planet had grown steadily but not alarmingly. Since the industrial revolution, the world’s population has grown exponentially. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the world’s population was below 1 billion, increasing to 1.8 billion by the beginning of the 20th Century. By the end of the 20th Century, that figure had grown to 6 billion. Amazingly, the last billion were added in the space of just twelve years, 1999- 2011. Here in 2021, there are a projected 7,874,965,825. Nearly eight billion people on the planet. This means that in just two hundred years, the population has increased sevenfold.

For more information on world population statistics, see the following resource: Wikipedia | World Population

The population increase is higher in less developed countries than it is in more developed nations, and whilst birth and death rates tend to be higher in these societies, the increasing improvement of medical treatment is increasing life expectancy. At the same time, the birth rate continues to stay the same. This differential makes an exponential increase in population inevitable.

This chart provides a snapshot of past population growth and future projections.

This chart provides a snapshot of past population growth and future projections.

Future Trend Makes War Inevitable?

So, currently, we are looking at a growth rate of approximately 233%. If that trend was to continue into the 22nd century, we would be living on a planet that contained 20 billion people. Given that the percentages have increased up to this point, it is fair to assume that this estimate may be seen as a conservative one.

Clearly, this is not sustainable because we would run out of food and water, let alone living space. War would become an inevitable event for these essential commodities. Our own success as a species is making us the biggest threat to our own survival - sounds silly, but it seems to be our destiny unless something changes soon.

Obviously, the method employed by Bertrand Zobrist—the villain of Dan Brown’s novel, Inferno—in which he unleashes a plague into the world that leaves one in three of the population sterile, is not an ideal scenario (the ending was changed for the movie). That said, if we don’t come up with a solution soon, then humanity is destined for a war that most will not survive.

The nuclear weaponry available to a diverse group of countries such as Russia, China, the USA, the UK, France, India, South Korea, and Pakistan, means that any future global war over resources will likely be catastrophic.

China's One Child Policy

China recognised the issue of unsustainable population growth and implemented a policy of one child per couple that ran from 1979. This has since been rescinded and phased out as of 2015 and replaced with a two-child policy.

All this policy seemed to achieve was a lot of abandoned female babies, because male children were preferred to keep the family bloodline going.

The policy has also created another undesirable problem. A situation where there is an older demographic of retired people and a shortage of younger workers to support them.

Clearly then, this is a failed attempt at a solution to the problem.

China's one-child policy was condemned as a violation of human rights and found to be unworkable as a viable solution.

China's one-child policy was condemned as a violation of human rights and found to be unworkable as a viable solution.

Education Hampered By Religious Beliefs

Educating people about contraception and birth control is one way forward, although a lot of people are under duress of this going against their religious dictates. This presents a serious problem for the individual believer.

Catholicism, for example, is against both abortion and contraception. Both are of huge benefit to controlling the world's population, with an estimated 40% of pregnancies worldwide being unplanned.

Education, particularly in developing nations, remains one of the most prominent suggestions to affect unnecessary pregnancies, particularly amongst younger people. This brings the additional benefit of controlling the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The question remains, however, can religions be educated into changing their centuries-old stance for the good of humanity?

Probably not, so this still leaves a lot of people without birth control.

Religious objections hamper birth control education.

Religious objections hamper birth control education.

Space: The Final Frontier

Some have suggested that humanity will need to populate space, such as Marshall T. Savage in his book The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps.

Others have taken this idea further and started to put the plan into action.

You may have heard of Asgardia, the proposed 'Space Nation', headed by Dr Igor Ashurbeyli. According to Wikipedia, it has 289,904 members and 1,040,378 followers. The first 100,000 members were given dual citizenship of both Asgardia and their 'Earthly' nationality.

Formed with the intention of promoting peace and collaboration amongst its citizens and preventing Earthly wars affecting space. Asgardia proposes to have its own flag, currency, government, national anthem, embassies, and all the other trappings that go with being a certified United Nations recognised country.

Is it workable? Maybe.

Not everyone is enthralled with the idea of being a space pioneer and all the hardships and dangers that would come with it, however. It would also entail leaving behind whole swathes of friends and family, with the possibility of never seeing them again.

As a long-term solution, it could work, once all the legwork has been achieved by the brave pioneers and a shuttle system is put in place between Earth and the proposed colonies.

It’s certainly an intriguing glimpse into our future to consider this possibility.

The BBC Science Focus website has an excellent article on it which you can read here.

Maybe the moon and other planets and satellites will be a future 'expansion' of the human race to ease population congestion?

Maybe the moon and other planets and satellites will be a future 'expansion' of the human race to ease population congestion?

In Conclusion

My own thoughts on this matter are that something needs to be done urgently to curb the population growth.

Educating people about birth control is a necessity, trying to get religious leaders like the Pope to endorse this would be wonderful if very unlikely.

Financial support is given by governments, such as the UK’s, to people with large families and this should be stopped immediately.

This has only served to reduce the reasons for people to not worry about having larger families. Rather, we should be financially encouraging families to have fewer children. For instance, in the USA, there could be a scenario where medical insurance costs less for families with one or two children. An option in other countries where medical premiums aren’t so high would be to give them a lower rate of tax.

These are just two options that I have thought of myself whilst writing this article and I am sure the brains of the world’s governing bodies can come up with other ideas if they put their minds to it.

After all, time is running out to do something about this.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this matter. Don’t be shy to give your feedback, it is much welcomed, even if you disagree with me.

The likely alternative to a solution is a global war for resources.

The likely alternative to a solution is a global war for resources.

Further Reading

© 2021 Ian

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