“We Have An Environmental Crisis Because We Have A People Crisis – A Crisis ofPopulation Growth, of Wasteful Consumption of Resources, and A Crisis of Apathyand Inaction.”An environmental crisis is an emergency concerned with the place in which everyhuman lives – the environment. A people crisis is an emergency with thecommunity that inhabits the world environment. A crisis of population growth isa turning point where the environment can no longer sustain the amounts ofpeople which it contains. A crisis of apathy and inaction is one where thehuman race cannot be motivated to solve the problems with the environment thatthey themselves have created.The claim that we have an environmental crisis because we have a people crisisis valid because our environmental problems have largely resulted frompopulation growth, which has lead to apathy and inaction with regard to thewasteful consumption of resources. Examples are the desertification of the Sahelin Africa, the one child policy in China and the mis-management of our oceans.The Sahel is a strip of land that extends for more than 6000 kilometres acrossthe southern edge of the Sahara desert.
It stretches from Senegal andMauritania in the west to Ethiopia and Somalia in the east. These nations areamong the world’s poorest.The area is one of social and biophysical crisis because of the way thepopulation are forced to live; they are destroying the productivity of the land.The alarming rate of population growth and ever increasing pressure on the landhave initiated an expansion of desert-like conditions into the Sahel – a processcalled desertification.Traditionally, the people of the drier, northern Sahel followed a nomadiclifestyle, constantly moving their herds of cattle, sheep and goats over largeareas in the search for suitable grazing land. These movements preventedovergrazing and lessened the likelihood of land degradation. With increasinghuman numbers, the increased intensity of land use, and the harvesting of treesand scrub for fuel wood threaten to overwhelm the region’s fragile environmentand result in permanent ecological damage and declining standard of living.
During the 20th century 3.9 billion people have been added to the world’spopulation.This is an increase of 244%.
Rapid growth occurred because of the improvementof living conditions, reduced child mortality rates and increased lifeexpectancy.The population of undeveloped nations will continue to grow in the foreseeablefuture because at present 45% of the population is under 15 years of age.In the North the population growth is slowing down because children areconsidered an expense. In Italy, Germany and Austria, the growth rate isnegative.The slowdown in population growth is a result of the lower fertility rates thathave accompanied improvements in the quality of people’s lives and theincreasing use of contraceptives throughout the South.
As peoples’ economicwell-being improves they tend to have less children.Future efforts to control population growth will depend on the North’s capacityto share the world’s resources and the ability of poor nations to improve thequality of life experienced by their people.At the beginning of this century there were some 426 million people living inChina. This has resulted in a country that has endured the demographic effectsof devastating famines, wars, and epidemics for millennia; the population growthand change that occurred in the 20th century is unprecedented.By the year 2000, the Chinese population is officially projected to top the 1.3billion mark. About two-thirds of this 900 million increase was added within thelast 50 years, as mortality was reduced amid high fertility rates.
The Chinese government has been moved by this “demographic affluence” to curbfertility. China’s strategic demographic initiatives (SDI) were contrived out ofthis need. The government installed numerous measures for curbing fertility,embracing delayed marriage, sterilisation, all known contraceptive methods, andabortion. Exhortations, campaigns, financial and material incentives, andnumerous other sanctions were used to implement the policies.
All these effortswere, at first, to redirect young couples to have fewer offspring and, later, toheed the one-child-per-couple, or “minimal reproduction,” policy.The purpose of this call for minimal reproduction was to keep the populationfrom exceeding 1.2 billion by the year 2000. The scheme has proved problematicinside the country and controversial abroad for practical, political, ethical,and religious reasons.The massive gain in population in recent decades has intensified olddifficulties in the country’s effort to raise living standards, and has ignitednew economic, environmental, and social concerns within the nation’s borders.The major issues range from China’s population carrying capacity, unemploymentand underemployment in the countryside, surging urbanisation, and spreading airand water pollution to mass illiteracy and education in relation to development.
SDI itself has added such new concerns as the effect of son preference on femaleinfanticide and the sex ratio, the impact of a fast fertility reduction onpopulation aging, and the implications of exempting the country’s 55 minoritygroups from the nation’s fertility control measures.The global significance of China’s demographics is likewise enormous. Whateverthe size of China’s population is at the dawn of the 21st century it is certainto account for twenty percent of the world’s projected population. China’sindustrialisation, modernisation, expanding use of natural resources, and risingconsumption will increasingly disrupt the earth’s ecosystem.It has been thought that the world’s seas would provide an inexhaustible supplyof fish, however, this has been found to be untrue. Since the 1950’s there hasbeen a rapid increase in the amount of fish caught and most traditional foodfishes are now over-exploited and stocks are falling.Overfishing is partly the result of the belief that the world’s oceans arecommon property, and belong to everyone. They have been seen as a resource opento everyone with no one responsible for their protection.
This has led toexploitation and the Tragedy of the Commons”. This tragedy occurs when aresource is freely available to everyone; everyone uses the resource to themaximum so that the resource is eventually destroyed.Each year the cities of the world flush enough oil down their storm waterdrains and sewers into the sea to fill three Exxon Valdez supertankers. Largeareas of seas such as the Baltic and Mediterranean are now dead from pollution.Fishing is the most traditional activity in Australian waters . Today a fleet of10,000 boats lands a harvest of 200,000 tonnes of fish, prawns lobsters adshellfish worth $1.2 billion a year.
Being long-established, the fishing industry was also first to encounter thebiological limits of local waters: of our top 10 fisheries, five are now classedas over-exploited and five fully exploited. Now, if a particular fishery dropsto unsustainable levels, catch limits may be imposed. In greatest difficultiesare southern bluefin tuna, southern shark and gemfish. New fishery prospects arefew and costly to develop, most being in deep water.Related problems in fishing include the extent to which trawling damages thesea-bottom and changes the populations of sea creatures, and the growingconfrontation between inshore fishers and recreational anglers, which many nowpredict will end in bans on professional fishing.The ever increasing need for food due to population growth, has led to widerareas of the oceans being fished. Increasingly, fishing is taking place far outto sea, beyond the continental shelf in the waters of the continental slopes andocean depths.
Large fishing nations such as Japan, the USSR and the USA havefleets of trawlers that operate in these areas using the latest technology whichfurther deplete ocean stocks.These modern methods exploit the ocean resources by catching too much fish andby not being selective in what fish they catch before it is too late to throwthem back. This will eventually deplete world’s fish supplies and if trawlercompanies do not start to limit catches.The major issue concerned with the downfall of our oceans is that marine life isvital to the food chain which includes our survival in the future.There are many other long term issues involved within environmental crisis.
Some of these are air pollution, garbage, logging and erosion. Often governmentsoverlook these problems when creating new policies because they seem to be moreconcerned with immediate economic considerations. Globally, there is anindifference towards environmental issues and a lack of concern for the well-being of the world environment today. These examples have illustrated thatpeople put their own personal needs before the survival of the earth. Thedeveloped nations of the earth need to take a larger responsibility for theenvironment, as they have been educated to the ill effects of pollution andover-population and they have only themselves to blame for environmentaldestruction. As for the people in the nations of the South, population growthneeds to be slowed possibly by educating women about contraception, economicincentives, people interested in careers, less infant mortality and increasingthe cost of children.Apathy and inaction can be reversed by concerted and effective Governmentpolicies that encourage personal, social and economic benefits.
Apathy must beresisted if our planet is to survive.Category: History