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Over population is the elephant in the room than nobody talks about. Take most any crisis we face today, shrink it by 3 or 4 billion people and the problem goes away. Global population has doubled, and just about doubled again in my lifetime. It has fundamentally altered everything. It’s been estimated that there are as many people alive today as have ever lived before. Given our reproductive success as a species, it is easy to forget that population constrain is an unavoidable force of nature. Every species that ever was or ever will be is brought into natures balance. This WILL happen to humans with or without our planning. If we don’t take responsibility for a sustainable world the natural consequence could include human extinction. Natural consequences are seldom humane. Our intelligence has made us successful up till now, but if we don’t apply our ability to reason on this problem we won’t look so smart in the future. (selected reading below)
In the time it takes you to read this post there will be 2,000 more people in the world.
Graph of human population from 10,000 BC – 2,000 AD showing the unprecedented population growth since the 19th century
HERE IS A WORLD POPULATION CLOCK
Work to curb world overpopulation must begin now
Published July 11, 2012
Tuesday morning, the world’s population stood at 7,025,367,636. Some believe that’s already a billion more than the planet can ultimately sustain, but the number is growing annually by 80 million people.
At that rate – about 9,100 new people per hour – the world population increases by roughly the size of Thurston County [Washington State] every day.
This morning, in London, on World Population Day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation brought world leaders together to kick off a $4 billion fundraising campaign to provide contraceptives for 120 million women who do not have access to birth control, all of them in the poorest countries. [snip]
The World’s New Numbers
by Martin Walker
OVERPOPULATION: A KEY FACTOR IN SPECIES EXTINCTION
As the world’s population grows unsustainably, so do its unyielding demands for water, land, trees and fossil fuels — all of which come at a steep price for already endangered plants and animals. Most biologists agree we’re in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event; species are disappearing about 1,000 times faster than is typical of the planet’s history. This time, though, it isn’t because of geologic or cosmic forces but unsustainable human population growth.
Today’s global human population is over 7 billion. Every day, the planet sees a net gain of roughly 250,000 people. If the pace continues, we’ll be on course to reach 8 billion by 2020 and 9 billion by 2050.
By any ecological measure, Homo sapiens sapiens has exceeded its sustainable population size. Just a single human waste product — greenhouse gas — has drastically altered the chemistry of the planet’s atmosphere and oceans, causing global warming and ocean acidification.
In the United States, which has the world’s third largest population after China and India, the fertility rate peaked in 2007 at its highest level since 1971 before dropping off slightly due to the recent economic recession. At 2.1 children per woman, the U.S. fertility rate remains the highest among developed nations, which average around 1.6. The current U.S. population exceeds 300 million and is projected to grow 50 percent by 2050.
The mission of the Center for Biological Diversity is to stop the planetary extinction crisis wiping out rare plants and animals around the world. Explosive, unsustainable human population growth is an essential root cause of this crisis.
We can reduce our own population to an ecologically sustainable level in a number of ways, including the empowerment of women, education of all people, universal access to birth control and a societal commitment to ensuring that all species are given a chance to live and thrive. All of these steps will decrease human poverty and overcrowding, raise our standard of living and sustain the lives of plants, animals and ecosystems everywhere.
Bio-technology may one day mute the abortion debate by curtailing the number of unintended pregnancies. The possibility of developing an effective male contraceptive just improved.
Scientists from Monash University, the University of Newcastle, John Curtin School of Medical Research and Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Australia; and the University of Cambridge, in the UK have advanced research that could lead to a male contraceptive. They discovered a genetic mutation in a protein (RABL2) that shortens a sperm cell’s tail and limits its ability to swim. According to an article published October 8, 2012 in Genetics (Medical Xpress), “In laboratory tests, the team found that a mutation in RABL2 resulted in sperm tails that were 17 per cent shorter than normal. Dysfunctional RABL2 also negatively affected sperm production, resulting in a 50 per cent decrease. “
According to the report, RABL2 also works with other molecules known as intraflagellar transport proteins that carry genetic cargo along the sperm tail. Dysfunctional RABL2 results in lower sperm counts as well as sperm structure that reduces a its potency as well as its motility. With these insights it may be possible in the future to develop a pill that inhibits this protein. The prospect is not straight forward, however, because lower concentrations of RABL2 is also found in other organs. The trick would be to find a way to inhibit it only in the testes.
DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT:
The development of a male contraception should be a welcome, even an urgent goal for pro-life advocates. A male contraceptive pill would greatly reduce the number of abortions in the United States and bypass most religious based objections to post-fertilization contraceptives methods currently available for woman.
As it stands now, people have been fruitful and have multiplied to the point where human population is creating enormous stress on the planet’s ecosystems. There are more people alive today than have already died in the past. And population growth is still rising exponentially. It is a mathematical certainty that we either take control of our population growth or nature will do it for us in ways that could lead to our extinction. Any advances in contraception and increased ability of families to control reproduction is welcome news.