As the world welcomes its seven billionth resident today, we need to start focusing more on sustainability than over population
Experts say it took mankind almost two hundred millennia to reach a billion people, that mark was reached back in 1805. Just over two hundred years later our population has increased seven fold. But as the Earth welcomes resident #7,000,000,000 this Halloween day, 2011, we have more to worry about than the over population of our little planet.
I read an article recently in the Vancouver Sun which stated that standing shoulder to shoulder; seven billion people would fill the city of Los Angeles. I guess we’re lucky to have a bit more breathing room than that, after all it’s hard enough to breathe in Los Angeles as it is. I think therein lies the major problem facing a world that is growing in population by eighty million a year. The more we seem to grow, the more unsustainable we are making ourselves.
More than three quarters of the energy we consume as a species comes from non-renewable sources such as oil and coal. At the rate we are growing in numbers, oil will be completely gone in thirty to forty years, about the same time we should hit nine billion people. With modern day technology and government research, we as a people need to figure out how to move away from these toxic forms of energy not just to preserve the environment, but for our future as members of the human race. The world still builds more than sixty million combustible engine cars every year.
We also lose more than 4.5 million hectares of forest every year, 6 million hectares of fertile soil to soil erosion and 10 million hectares to desertification. Despite these facts, the amount of undernourished people in the world is declining, albeit very slowly. It just goes to show that even with our population growing as fast as it is, the world can still feed itself. In fact, when our governments decide to be more constructive than destructive, no one should go hungry.
Since we hit a billion a couple centuries back, we have concentrated almost exclusively on ways to kill each other and ways to kill the place we live, all in the name of territory, power and profits. As the world grows, we have to grow along with it for if the day should come when we can no longer sustain ourselves, we will have only ourselves to blame.
I look at the occupy movement happening in the United States and around the world and it gives me hope that there are people out there trying to make a difference, trying to correct the wrongs of the past, trying to change things for the better. However, in order to sustain ourselves into the future the resolve and determination of the 99% will need the money and influence of the 1% without the greed. We all occupy the world; we are all the seven billion. Together we can all achieve anything; it’s a small world after all.