Ken Smail points out a disturbing global problem curable only by significantly reducing the worlds population. That problem, simply stated, is that we are reproducing at a rate that will make the earth unable to sustain us in the vey near future. Even if we could attain zero population growth (ZPG) toady, Smail believes the world’s population would contine to grow. At a replacement rate of 2.1 children per female, it would take two or three generations to reach population stability and the population would be considerably larger than it already is now. The reason for this is because 30 – 40% of the population is under fifteen years old and hasn’t born children yet, a phenominon known as “population momentum”. Two more reasons why a replacement rate of 2.1 per female is inadequate to stem the rising population is a decrease in the mortality rate and an increase in longevity. Fewer people are dying (infant and maternal mortality especially) and people are living longer, especially in developed and emerging countries. Smail states that the earth’s resources are finite. That is true. We only have one Earth and if we take more than the earth can replenish, eventually we will run out. The earth’s “carrying capacity”, Smail estimates, is approx 3 billion people. That is the number of people expected to live a reasonably adequate to comfortable existence co-existing with the other species of the planet. We have already more than doubled that estimate. We are currently growing at approx one billion every ten years. In 1900 the world’s population was approx 1.6 billion. This year (2011) that figure has climbed to more than 7 billion, a greater than four-fold increase (4.3 to be exact). The formula used to determine the human impact upon the global environment is I=PAT. That is, the human impact(I), equals Population(P) times Affluence(A) times Technology(T). Our impact increases exponentially as population and affluence (our standard of living) increases. Technology may off-set that increase marginally if we can find suitable alternatives to energy and resource consumption but, the total impact will still reach a critical stage very soon if the other two multipliers are not addressed. Man has been likened to a virus. That is an apt description of us. A virus takes from the host, has no appreciable benefit, causing more harm than good, multiplies rapidly and in the end kills not only it’s host but itself. Smail states we must “… come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters.” By this he means we must learn to care for and protect not only our natural resources but the millions of other species inhabiting and co-existing with us on this planet. The time is now to responsibly manage and maintain our world so that future generations will have to the same or better standard of living, if we are to survive at all, as we have now.
Kenneth Smail in his essay “Let’s Reduce Global Population!” supports the idea of ZPG or Zero Population Growth as a way to control the earths population. Though this may seem effective it may take up to 75 years for this plan to be effective. Why? Because Kenneth says that over one third of the population is under the age of 15 and have not yet reproduced. This is a problem because even an effective ZPG program would not immediately reduce or even stem the population growth.
Smail’s says”. . .come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters.”? I personally like this quote because it says a lot about what most people think of the earth, as a infinite place of raw materials and an indestructible home. This is certainly not true. We need to realize that we need to take care of our home, the earth. To be its stuarts. We do not control the Earth, we are not its masters.
In the essay “Let’s Reduce Global Population!” J. Kenneth Smail gives ten inescapable realities as to why humans as a species need to reduce global population if we are to survive as a species. The first reality is that over the past two centuries the Earth has experienced unprecedented human population growth. The second reality is that even if a zero population growth program (ZPG) was implemented today, it would most likely fail to stabilize the population in a reasonable amount of time. The third reality is that fertility rates have been increasing and are likely to continue in that trend. The fourth reality is that rapid population decline is usually on a regionalized level and NOT global. The fifth reality is that the “window” for implementing population control is even smaller than we estimate today. The sixth reality is that the Earth’s long term carrying capacity is finite and that what could be supported, most likely should not be supported. The seventh reality is that “sustainable growth” is a fanciful pipe dream that is not realistic. The eighth reality is that only about 20% of the world’s population today lives in a generally adequate way and that the other 80% of the population is striving to become more like the 20%. This will mean even greater conflict to come. The ninth reality is that the I=PAT equation is a guesstimate at best with many factors that are impossible to predict such as, population growth, energy consumption, and new technology. Finally the tenth reality is that “guided social engineering” will be necessary to insure the survival of our species and tough choices will have to be made about the survival of other forms of life on the planet as well. When Smail indicates that the Earth “long-term carrying capacity” he is talking about the balance between the Earth’s natural resources and the exploitation of these resources by humans. We only have one Earth and one ecosystem to experiment on, and when the resources are gone they are gone forever. We will never get another shot to “fix” the Earth on which we live. If we ruin the Earth in the next few generations, we will ruin the Earth for all of humanity. Smail sees a solution in drastically reducing world population size to around 2-3 billion people through voluntary reductions. He also sees a solution in treating the Earth more like our home than as a resource that was put here to exploit. The “stewardship” he refers to is indeed going to be absolutely necessary if we are to continue to survive and thrive in this planet. We need to treat the Earth more like a terrarium in which we live. We have nowhere else to go and we are quickly possibly irreversibly damaging the only home we have ever known.
Great topic, i found the fact that population growth is fueled more by the reduction in death rates rather then the changes in birth rates. We have not even reached the upper limit of the average human life expectancy. The population will only increase faster even with the life expectancy staying where it is at now. Reading about the ZPG would only effect the population if it limited females to 2 kids for multiple generations shows how fast the population is expanding and what it would really take to just stabalize it. I don’t see an off earth migration happening any time in our future, but that is my opinion. We should focus on saving and sustaining our planet before we go and take over another. Smail makes a great argument about this population growth topic.
Smail gives a few reasons as to why even a fully effective populations control program wouldn’t be enough to reduce the worlds population.
Smail says that even if a program of zero population growth were implemented immediately by limiting human fertility to roughly 2.1 children per female which is called the replacement rate, global population would still continue on its path of rapid expansion. Demographers estimate that it would take two to three generations at the replacement rate to reach a point of population stability. This is because 1/3 of the population is still under the age of fifteen and have not reproduced yet.
Smail also mentions how adult longevity is contributing to the worlds population. He says the on going gains in this longevity will continue to keep the population high regardless of the fertility aspect.
Smail sees how the earths long term carrying capacity in finite. This is a problem because resources whether they are renewable or non-renewable will run out with so many people on the planet. All in all humans wouldn’t be in existence if it wasn’t for earths resources. So running out would result in the end of humanity.
What Smail means by his statement is, as of this moment in time humans view themselves in regard to the Earth as the masters of the earth. The fact that we feel entitled to destroy Eco-systems by cementing over land or polluting waters and among other things, we are acting like we own the earth. But in fact we are as important as any other living organism. We wouldn’t exist without these other ecosystems and organisms. We share this Earth and have “co evolved with literally millions of other life forms.” Smail is basically saying that we need to stop thinking in this master mentality and start thinking in a co-existing mentally with Earth and all of its life.
J. Kenneth Small discusses the issue of global population and how it is a danger to our future on earth. He feels that if the population keeps growing at such a fast rate it will ultimatley cause a “plague of humanity.” Right now our earth is supporting 2.5 billion people and it could potentially double in the near future leaving us with an overpopulated world and very few resources. He talks about ten inescapble realities that we are going to face in the future. A fourthfold increase in population within a century even with a zero population growth program by limiting fertility. Our population would still continue to grow rapidly. Population overgrowth is not just effected by fertility but by the decrease in mortality due to the increase of longevity . The only way the mortality rate would increase at this point would be for a death pandemic, world war or breakdown in public health to occur. Eventually there will be little space for people to colonize and create communitiesand homes. It will be a huge impact on human life to add another 3 to 4 billion people in a matter of a century. Earth finate resourcesr, for example, fossil fuel, food supply and fresh water will also run out evenntually. This ecological damage from overconsumption of resources will lower the standard of living immesnly. This overgrowth is also predicted to occur in under-developed places in the world which poses and even bigger problem because in these areas there are less resources to begin. We really need to start thinking critically about what we are going to do about this issue because before we know it life on earth will be at risk with no options to turn to. It is a scary thought to think about our children, grandchildren and great granchildren facing these issues because we didnt change our ways of life.
In J. Kenneth Snail’s article he writes about “Ten Inescapable Realities” which help support his belief that even a program of zero population wouldn’t be enough to reduce the world’s population. Snail feels that “it would take at least two to three generations” of no population increase just to get to a point where the Earth’s population would be considered stable. He points out that adolescents are already here and on top of that there’s their parents, grandparents (sometimes great too) and maybe even their children. With this fact we look at the time they’ll be around, probably until 2050. On top of this, though not all will survive this long, birth rates are greater than death rates which in turn will continue to increase the population by billions. Even if we took this factor out, our resources are not infinite. Although we have made huge technological advances, it won’t be enough for the already seven billion people forever. It is an already seen fact that resources are running out and that’s just for the developed countries. Because it is an apparent growing problem, Snail suggests that it’s “better for our species to err on the side of prudence, exercising wherever possible a cautious and careful stewardship.” With time continuing to move forward and our constant discoveries, many simply feel we can find some magical answer to any problem. We are the “dominant” species on Earth, even if we are also a disease infecting the planet. We need to become individually aware of our environment and what every small action actually does to the planet and the millions of other species. Instead of being the “absolute masters” we need to realize that humans are the cause of the destruction and we have to share the Earth among species and respect each habitat in order to preserve it.
Smail lists many reasons for why a fully effective program of zero population growth would not be enough to reduce the worlds population. We have already surpassed our carrying capacity for the earth. At this point we have doubled it. He states that it would take two to three generations of not producing to reach a point of population stability. We have an unusually high proportion of the current worlds population under the age of 15 which has not yet reproduced. Birth rates remain high why mortality rates have fallen. In less developed worlds reproduction has doubled.
The earths carrying capacity is beyond as i mentioned.A carrying capacity is defined as humans in long term adaptive balance with their ecological surroundings. He states it is finite meaning there is an end no matter what people think. We have tapped out our resources. There is no way that the earth is going to be able to withstand the high probability of continued scientific and technological progress. We are now at six billion people, there is no way we can support nine billion. Experts believe by 2050 we will reach that point. A solution to this problem is people learning how to live in their means. As consumers we need to buy less junk. We need to only buy food that we are going to eat. The world wastes a huge amount of food a year. We also throw away things that could very well be fixed. We would rather just buy something new. Conservation is the best way to solve the problems that our world is facing.
When Smail states “come to regard ourselves more as the Earths long term stewards than its absolute masters,” he means that we need to take in account all of the species that lives on this earth. We act as if we are the rulers of this world and everything falls second. Humans were not here first. There are so many different species that are just as important if not more than we are. We talk about this in Conservation class often. Humans do what we feel is right for us and don’t think about the big picture. We are all a huge web and if we are missing parts everything is affected. We have to leave our Rain forests and National Parks alone. Conserve and preserve, that should be our motto. If you cut a tree plant another one. Its as easy as that. It is scary to think that our children will see this happen. Disease, hunger, and violence are going to be more common than now because of over population. It needs to be addressed right away.
Holding the population to zero population growth would never be enough because the global population would continue its rapid rate of expansion. Also you need to realize that implementing a no population growth may be quite limited with a time window that is so little. The plan for zero population growth still doesn’t cover everything because it still leaves the depletion of the earths resources. As far resources are concerned, whether there renewable or non renewable its becoming apparent that an era of inexpensive energy, unlimited food supplies, readily extractable materials( from wood to minerals), fresh water, and accessible open space is rapidly coming to a close, almost certainly within the next half-century. Therefore a plan to keep the population from growing is simply undesirable because it’s almost asking to much in such a little time.
Do we have a responsibility to control the population growth of other species has we continually grow are selves? I would say no we wouldn’t have to change the way we do things to limit the animal population but most certainly we would have to make and effort to maintain the animal population because their necessary for life. As are population grows and the animals do simultaneously I believe that we would still be able to continue doing what we normally do to maintain animal population which could be hunting etc. My real concern would have to do with maintaining the animal population. As we expand were using up space that millions of species use as habitats. The human is always going to win the battle over territory with an animal because these animals have no way to defend them selfs from being driven out of their homes. We need the animal species because there what allows this world to run and with out the animal species it would throw the balance of the world off and disrupt everything.
Furthermore I would have to say that I do agree with Smail and we do need to make an effort to control the population growth. We already know the consequences that will come forth if we don’t control the population and by all means that may be a human apocalypse. So I believe that its easily understandable that if the population keeps growing rapidly that their will definitely be problems but the problem is coming up with a plan, policy, efforts to control the population and how to enforce these new regulations to control population growth.
According to Ken Smail,in his writing titled, “Let’s Reduce Global Population!”, it is quite possible that the population growth on earth has already surpassed its limits. He also suggests that the planets “carrying capapacity” may only be half the number of people we already have and our time to reverse this is running out fast. Today, there are over 6 billion people on earth and this number is predicted to grow to 8-9 billion by the year 2050. The majority of this growth consisting of people living in conditions ranging from mild deprivation to severe deficiency. Currently, only 20% of the world population is living at an adaquate standard, while a extremely concerning 80% are living in poverty. I find all of this information to be very alarming. I often wonder how the earth can continue to accomodate a continually growing population. I feel that people need to start taking this issue much more seriously; there are only so many natural resources on this planet and the effects of excessive reproduction and overconsumption of resources is undoubtably going to catch up with us. Smail suggests, that to ensure the earths conservation and possibly reverse the damage already done, the population would need to dramatically decrease its population to 2-3 billion within the next two centuries. I believe most of us can agree that this seems almost impossible to achieve. So what does the future hold regarding this frightening issue? I am not sure but to begin to tackle it I agree with Smail who states that, “If we can collectively come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters,” maybe we can resolve this more effectively.