The dirty little secret that nobody likes to mention is that a lot of our environmental problems are caused by the fact that there are just too many of us on the planet.
A Malthusian vision of the future is distasteful, but guess what, old Malthus wasn’t too far off the mark. In 1960 world population stood at 3 billion.
By the year 2000 it had doubled to 6 billion and barring cataclysmic events, there will be 9 billion humans on planet Earth by 2040: too many of us for Mother Earth to support no matter how much we conserve and recycle and reduce our individual carbon footprints.
There was a lot of talk about zero population growth in the 1970′s and into the early ’80′s, but during the booming nineties the subject was dropped for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the green revolution which permitted corporate farming to vastly increase world food production with the help of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
This didn’t do much to help the planet, but did put food on the world table and postpone the inevitable for a bit. But the numbers are quickly catching up with us again and now we have glaciers melting, sea levels rising, rain forests disappearing and species going extinct at a record pace. A world water crisis is looming and we all know about the problem of peak oil.
Will we face a future of scarcity and struggle as a species? It is certainly one possible scenario.
How to Solve the Problem
As is so often the case when it comes to family issues, the answer lies with the women of the world. Yes, indeed. Women are not stupid. In countries where they have access to information about family planning, where they can go to school and get an education and eventually hope to work and contribute their labor to society, the birth rate goes down dramatically and quality of life goes up.
Educated women marry later, delay childbirth, and have fewer children. The children that they do have are more apt to reach maturity and to become educated themselves. When you educate a man, you educate a breadwinner, which is important, but when you educate a woman, you educate a whole family and that is even more important. How a woman is treated in the world casts a long long shadow on her family and the society in which she lives.
Seems to me, that giving women the tools they need to become responsible contributing members of society would go a long way towards stabilizing human populations and solving one of our most pressing environmental problems.
Let’s support the women of the world so that they can help Mother Earth support us all.