Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Overlooked Environmental Issue of the Year--Occupy Earth

To close this end of year series on the most overlooked environmental issues of the year, I have selected a topic that has great depth of meaning--global population growth.
Today it is estimated that there are approximately 7 billion people on the planet.  The video above (click for youtube credit) shows the growth over time and space.  There is no doubt that our current era, with improved medicine and food production, allows our population to expand as it never has before.  But there are environmental costs to this growth that have far-reaching impacts on our planet.  We all consume goods for our basic needs, but we are also becoming a global consumer society.  Almost everyone would like and ipad, a car, and fine clothing.  But the reality is that if everyone consumed at the same rate, the planet would be severely damaged.  

So what is the fate of our population?  Will we slow growth?  Will we figure out a way to consume less while having a high quality of life?  Will we destroy ourselves and the planet at the same time?

I am an optimist.  I believe, as do many population experts, that the population of the planet will stabilize soon and level out.  I also believe that we will find ways to manage this growth by using sound, thoughtful practices in many areas.  But, there is no doubt that some areas will feel pressure and see severe environmental and social problems.  We cannot whistle in the graveyard and pretend that these issues are not happening.  We also cannot look the other way and let future generations figure out the problems that we are causing in our high-population growth and consumerist societies around the world.  

We have to continue the conversations about sustainability in all cultures, at all levels of governments, and within all organizations in order to better confront the emerging realities associated with limited resources within a globalizing consumer world that is seeing tremendous population growth.

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To my readers, thank you for visiting my blog in 2011.  Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and green 2012.

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