Sustainability and population growth as a global problem - Stichting de Club van Tien Miljoen
If the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to .. various sustainability theories and their general relation to population pol- icy. Sep 15, As part of its third annual SEPTEMBER SUSTAINABILITY MONTH, the Carnegie . The idea that population "control" can be imposed on people was The relationship between population and the environment is complex. Read more on Population Growth & Sustainable Development. the question: What will happen if the human population continues on its current growth path? To achieve a sustainable relationship between natural resources, development.
Women's rights are key. Fertility rates remain high where women's status is low.
SUSTAINABILITY FORUM: The Population and Sustainability Debate
Less than one fifth of the world's countries will account for nearly all of the world's population growth this century. Not coincidentally, those countries—the least developed nations in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and elsewhere—are also where girls are less likely to attend school, where child marriage is common, and where women lack basic rights. Nations can raise women's status by educating girls, by enforcing laws that prohibit child marriage, and by improving women's access to credit, land, jobs, and training.
Where women enjoy these fundamental rights, smaller and healthier families become the norm. At the same time, women need the means to make choices: Around the world, some million want to avoid pregnancy, but aren't using effective methods of contraception. And the potential benefits are huge: Improved access to family planning could prevent 53 million unintended pregnancies,maternal deaths, and 25 million abortions each year.
Women's rights and reproductive health are vitally important in their own right, as a matter of public health and social justice. They can also help slow population growth and help ensure a sustainable future. Barbara Crossette The debate about whether the world needs fewer people to sustain itself too often leads nowhere. It is essentially an argument over numbers: More useful might be an analysis of why populations are actually shrinking or stabilizing in many countries, while growing rapidly in others.
Women, the men in their lives, and the inequalities that hamper their reproductive choices should be at the center of the story. The idea that population "control" can be imposed on people was decisively rejected in Septemberwhen nations met in Cairo at the historic International Conference on Population and Development.
Lately even China has begun to rethink its already crumbling one-child policy, as officials see their Asian neighbors reduce fertility rates—the number of children each woman has in her lifetime—to China's low levels, without coercion.
The Cairo conference put reproductive choice in the hands of women. That was fine, but unrealistic where it mattered most. In the richer industrial countries women and their partners had long made choices about family size. These personal choices had serendipitous national effects, not least on economic development and the environment.
In developing countries, millions of poor women are still waiting to reap the gains of Cairo. Reproductive health specialists believe that at least million women in developing countries want, but do not have, the health care and contraceptive choices their richer sisters have long enjoyed.
Almost all of the children born in this century will be born in poor nations, yet international aid for family planning has gone down precipitously, in part because donors deem it culturally intrusive or morally unacceptable.
Culture may play a part in barriers to choice, but successful family planning programs in numerous Catholic and Muslim countries prove that religion is not necessarily a bar.China's Population Control Policies
Studies in Bangladesh by T. Paul Schultzan economist at the Yale University economics department's Economic Growth Centre, show this, and demonstrate the economic benefits of choice. But where there is no political will to honor Cairo pledges, millions of unwanted births take place and hundreds of thousands of women die of preventable, pregnancy-related causes and unsafe abortions.
Women in rural villages and city slums in Brazil, East Timor, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, and India have told me that given the chance, they would have two, three, or perhaps four children; many already had five or six.
The fertility rate at which population growth begins to stabilize is 2. Many of these women are farmers who see land deteriorating, water and food getting scarcer, and forests disappearing. By all means, bring down consumption, waste, and the squandering of energy resources in rich societies, and do so in time for the global poor to get more of their share. But more than empty pledges to women living in poverty are needed, so that they too can take part in saving the earth.
Powerful population and environment advocacy organizations primarily in the U. In part, this is a calculated strategy to increase support for international family planning assistance in the face of the continuing conservative assault on reproductive rights.
Of course, we are in need of this, but innovation is not a panacea. Sustainability has recently become the subject of a new scientific discipline sustainable management regarding the management of of change towards a sustainable society. For the time being, sustainability in practice is legging far behind its previous political goals. None of the big environmental goals as stated in in the well-known report Our Common Future of the Brundtland Commission has come any nearer.
Towards a different lifestyle If we want to effectuate sustainability straight on, then we must be willing to sacrifice two holy cows: The importance of a ecological point of view will be perfectly clarified by Jan Juffermans in his contribution to this issue. But it also will help to watch our calories. One out of eight children has too much overweight. In the United States it is even worse. There seems to be a patriotic obligation to consume and spend money as much as necessary to keep the economy going and to prevent recession.
This is ordinary Keynesian stimulation of demand, according to Alfred Kleinknecht, Dutch professor of innovational economics in Delft. To me it seems a desperate measure of a right wing president who has great difficulty in improving his historical record. The main question is how to achieve a radical reorientation in liberal economy and democracy where economical and politcal behaviour are to such a high degree determined by competition and where a continuous growth of wealth is taken for granted.
This question would be a new testcase for the liberal-capitalist project of modern times. For the time being, opinions concerning the kind of answer differ greatly. Modes of sustainable enterprising and consuming seem to become more and more popular. Even so, they still remain non-compulsory. Therefore it is argued that corporate social responsibility should become mandatory by the obligation of integrated annual reports including a fixed set of environmental indicators, and by making the Chairman of the Board of Directors finally responsible for the environment portfolio.
This is a common experience of the Dutch Foundation of Overpopulation Awareness The Ten Million Clubbravely trying to bring demographic problems to the attention of the public for many years, without getting the attention these problems deserve.
Nature protection and environment organisations also tend to circumvent them. Whoever brings them up, takes the risk of being put away in the right wing corner of racism and opposition against international migration. It has been considered a criminal act in the eighties and people in the Netherlands have been prosecuted for doing so.
From a historical point of view this is very remarkable. In the early fifties the Research Department of the Dutch Labour Party has appointed a commission to define the nature and norms of population policy. In the seventies the appointment of a national committee on population issues was considered necessary.
It freely proposed a number of measures in order to lessen population pressure, among them a proposal to diminish immigration pressure. In her Royal annual speech of the Queen declared on behalf of the government: Demographic division of North and South This division, being the starting point of our special issue, manifests itself in demographic development.
A rapid population growth in large parts of the South goes hand in hand with a rapid decrease of birth rates in the North. Notwithstanding strongly increased death rates as a consequence of the AIDS epidemic, Africa has the fastest growing population of the South. Since it has grown from to millions. As for the North, birth rates have fallen most dramatically in Europe 1. The downward trend is reinforced by the growing number of highly educated woman who remain voluntarily childless for career reasons.
They are supported by organisations such as the World Child Free Association trying to break the taboo of a voluntary childless life. Recent data of Statistics Netherlands show that the number of voluntarily childfree woman is growing, especially that of highly educated woman. This downward trend as a consequence of the sexual revolution during the sixties and the second feminist wave has been valued in very different ways.
The Isrealic islamologist Raphael Israeli speaks of demographic suicide in Europe; he warns us against a new islamic invasion because of a rapidly growing Muslim population which doubles with each generation.
The German sociologist Franz-Xaver Kaufmann is expecting rough times afterdue to the fact that not only population growth but also population decrease proceed exponentially. In Russia it is seen as a demographic catastrophe, which can become detrimental for the power position of the country on the world stage.
It is expected that the Russian population will decrease from million people to million by Irving Kristol, well-known exponent of American neoconservatism, sees the trend as a textbook example of western decadency. This negative valuation can be explained from a traditional Christian point of view. However, from an ecological and demographical perspective this development should be firmly embraced, according to Paul Gerbrands of the Dutch Foundation of Overpopulation Awareness The Ten Million Club.
Background and problems of migration streams from South to North The demographic unbalance between North and South and the associated huge prosperity gap perfectly explain the consequential migration streams from South to North. Therefore, it is recommended to focus development aid more and more on the reduction of population growth. Migration streams have become a divisive issue in western policy.
Population ageing in western countries faces us with new welfare problems, such as keeping up social security, pensions, medical care and so on, and also with the question how to cater for imminent structural shortages on the labour market. A formula for environmental degradation? The IPAT equation, first devised in the s, is a way of determining environmental degradation based on a multiple of factors.
Population Growth & Sustainable Development | Sustainable Development & Environmental Awareness
At its simplest, it describes how human impact on the environment I is a result of a multiplicative contribution of population Paffluence A and technology T. As well as bringing the link between population and environment to a wider audience, the IPAT equation encouraged people to see that environmental problems are caused by multiple factors that when combined produced a compounding effect.
More significantly, it showed that the assumption of a simple multiplicative relationship among the main factors generally does not hold—doubling the population, for example, does not necessarily lead to a doubling of environmental impact. The reverse is also true—a reduction of the technology factor by 50 per cent would not necessarily lead to a reduction in environmental impact by the same margin.
The IPAT equation is not perfect, but it does help to demonstrate that population is not the only or necessarily the most important factor relating to environmental damage.
Focusing solely on population number obscures the multifaceted relationship between us humans and our environment, and makes it easier for us to lay the blame at the feet of others, such as those in developing countries, rather than looking at how our own behaviour may be negatively affecting the planet.
Population size It's no surprise that as the world population continues to grow, the limits of essential global resources such as potable water, fertile land, forests and fisheries are becoming more obvious.
But how many people is too many? How many of us can Earth realistically support? Carrying capacity is usually limited by components of the environment e. Debate about the actual human carrying capacity of Earth dates back hundreds of years. The range of estimates is enormous, fluctuating from million people to more than one trillion. Scientists disagree not only on the final number, but more importantly about the best and most accurate way of determining that number—hence the huge variability.
The majority of studies estimate that the Earth's capacity is at or beneath 8 billion people. PDF How can this be?
Whether we have million people or one trillion, we still have only one planet, which has a finite level of resources. The answer comes back to resource consumption. People around the world consume resources differently and unevenly. An average middle-class American consumes 3. So if everyone on Earth lived like a middle class American, then the planet might have a carrying capacity of around 2 billion.
However, if people only consumed what they actually needed, then the Earth could potentially support a much higher figure. But we need to consider not just quantity but also quality—Earth might be able to theoretically support over one trillion people, but what would their quality of life be like? Would they be scraping by on the bare minimum of allocated resources, or would they have the opportunity to lead an enjoyable and full life?
More importantly, could these trillion people cooperate on the scale required, or might some groups seek to use a disproportionate fraction of resources? If so, might other groups challenge that inequality, including through the use of violence? These are questions that are yet to be answered. Population distribution The ways in which populations are spread across Earth has an effect on the environment. Developing countries tend to have higher birth rates due to poverty and lower access to family planning and education, while developed countries have lower birth rates.
These faster-growing populations can add pressure to local environments. Globally, in almost every country, humans are also becoming more urbanised. Bythat figure was 54 per cent, with a projected rise to 66 per cent by While many enthusiasts for centralisation and urbanisation argue this allows for resources to be used more efficiently, in developing countries this mass movement of people heading towards the cities in search of employment and opportunity often outstrips the pace of development, leading to slums, poor if any environmental regulation, and higher levels of centralised pollution.
Even in developed nations, more people are moving to the cities than ever before. The pressure placed on growing cities and their resources such as water, energy and food due to continuing growth includes pollution from additional cars, heaters and other modern luxuries, which can cause a range of localised environmental problems.
Humans have always moved around the world. However, government policies, conflict or environmental crises can enhance these migrations, often causing short or long-term environmental damage. For example, since conditions in the Middle East have seen population transfer also known as unplanned migration result in several million refugees fleeing countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sudden development of often huge refugee camps can affect water supplies, cause land damage such as felling of trees for fuel or pollute environments lack of sewerage systems.
Unplanned migration is not only difficult for refugees. Having so many people living so closely together without adequate infrastructure causes environmental damage too. Population composition The composition of a population can also affect the surrounding environment.
At present, the global population has both the largest proportion of young people under 24 and the largest percentage of elderly people in history.