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Posted 8:00 am
March 3, 2013

Overpopulation calls for responsible consumption, family planning

Being that 65.5 percent of SF State students are upperclassmen, there’s no doubt they are thinking about the future and taking the next steps into adulthood. These plans could include getting married and starting families.

A question students may ask is, “How many children am I planning on having in the distant-but-near future?” Whether the answer is none, two, five or six, that decision will impact the environment.

Overpopulation is the number of people populating a region past its ecological limits, straining the non-renewable resources of the Earth. Overpopulation is due to an increase in births and a decline in death rates.

While overpopulation isn’t a direct fault of developed countries like the U.S., where the trend of bearing less children is rising, developed countries are at fault for overconsumption of non-renewable resources in an overpopulated world.

The United States overuses resources because of our wealth and privilege. The U.S. is the biggest global consumer — despite being only 5 percent of the world’s population — but accounts for 30 percent of the annual worldwide consumption. The U.S. now has only 20 percent of old growth forest remaining and 75 percent of fisheries are producing at or above capacity. Also, 99 percent of raw materials are discarded within six months by various means; either burned, buried, or tossed into the oceans.

There are over 315 million people in the United States while there are 7 billion people in the world, according to the U.S. Census website. Every eight seconds someone is born and every 12 seconds someone dies in the U.S. Imagine the world in 10 years. The amount of food, land, energy and water that is needed to sustain a planet will soon run out with a growing world population of roughly 82 million more people every year.

According to HowMany.org, one billion people — one out of every seven people alive — go to bed hungry. Every day, 25,000 people die of malnutrition and hunger-related diseases. Almost 18,000 of them are children under five years old. Food production and distribution could catch up if our population stopped growing and dropped to a sustainable level.

Further depletion of essential resources like food, fresh water and land make the issue of overpopulation a big deal. Although over 70 percent of Earth is covered with water, 97.5 percent of that water is full of salt, leaving only 2.5 percent for human consumption. The lack of fresh water leads to poor hygiene, which would lead to disease, dehydration, loss of food crops, and eventually, starvation.

While we as Americans might have the economic means to support large families, awareness of overpopulation and staying within our world’s ecological limits is critical. An environmentally conscious plan for a family would consist of two children. The two children would replace the two parents when they pass. There will be no increase in population, but a simple replacement.

Family planning is the key to a stable population in underdeveloped countries. In the U.S., our population is already stable. Our problem is overconsumption. The key to curbing consumption is taking care of our ecosystems. Saving fresh water, discouraging development on arable land, rolling back subsidies on domestic crops to reduce over production, eating locally-grown produce and reducing our carbon footprint.

Remember you have an impact, both positive and negative, on the environment. Keep in mind Mother Nature can only give so much before everything is gone.