Friday, January 15, 2010
Chapter 36: The Population Explopsion
In 1800 mankind had a population of about 1 billion, but that grew six times in size in less than 200 years, half of it being from 1960 onward. The chapter states that before reduced birth rates can bring population growth to a halt we will have thirty or fifty "Germany's" (meaning thirty to fifty times the population of Germany) worth of people will be added to the planet. The I=PAT (number of people x affluence x impact from technology) is a general way to measure of the environmental impact of a society. This chapter considers population growth to be responsible for about 45% of humanity's environmental peril. This is what has lead to much of mankind's over consumption of Earth's resources and extended disruption of nature including carbon, nitrogen ,etc cycles, as well as depletion of groundwater and soil erosion. The chapter basically boils down to saying that supporting our vast population, and supporting certain lifestyles, is straining the planet. It is mentioned that the world uses13 terawatts of energy and that 4.5 - 6 tW would be more ideal when balancing lifestyle and environmental impact. It then goes on to talking about basic goals to help deal with population explosion: basic health care and sanitation, education and economic opportunities for both sexes, local control over supporting resources and fair government. Another big one is family planning education. The chapter discusses how in parts of the world that are largely male dominated societies (such as sub-Saharan Africa) are the ones with the highest birth rates due to inequality and poor education. The chapter end off with saying that rich nations need to reduce their consumption while helping to establish environmentally benign technologies in emerging countries in order to move forward to more sustainable future.