Three Views of Population Growth Essay

This essay has a total of 2657 words and 14 pages.

Three Views of Population Growth

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:
• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 overexploited, and fish catches are down.


• 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%.

• 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.

• 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:
• Public health: Cleaner water and improved sanitation are becoming more common
place. Air pollution has greatly improved due to improvements in technology.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 thousand 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.

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