Is The World Really Overpopulated?
As of December 18th, 2013 the population of the world was 7.2 billion. Each day there are thousands of people born and our population is steadily rising up to what many call the earths ‘population limit’. Many scientists believe that Earth has a maximum carrying capacity of about 9 to 10 billion people. The United Nations estimates that the population will reach 8 billion people by the spring of 2024. Furthermore, using the same calculation proposed by the United Nations, we will reach earths capacity (10 billion) by 2062.
Is Overpopulation A Myth?
What areas are the most overpopulated?
If you watched the videos above you will see that the verdict is still out on the ‘overpopulation’ issue. Although, regardless if there is or isn’t a looming population problem on its way, many areas in the world are vastly overpopulated. For instance, India has a population of 1.25 billion; versus the United States with 321 million. Moreover, India only has 1/3 of the land mass that the United States has, with a population four times as large. India is second after China for the largest population in the world.
In Southern Europe the country of Monaco has the highest population density in the world, around 49,217 people per sq mi. To put that into perspective New York City, NY has a density of 26,953 per sq mi.
Assuming that we are Overpopulated, How Do We Fix This?
So lets for a moment go along with the idea that we are overpopulated, or are becoming overpopulated. What can we do to change this? What areas of society do we need to make changes to assure that we continue to live more harmonious with nature? Should we decrease the limit of children we are allow to have like China has done? Or vastly reduce the population down to 500 million like the Georgia Guild stones suggests? Where do we start!?
The Food Supply
The great Albert Einstein once said ” Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” In the west we consume an average of 270.7 pounds of meat per person a year. Most of the meat consumed is beef, with an average of over 57 pounds per meat eater per year. This adds up to a staggering 5.2 billion pounds of meat overall per year (2012). Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, and produce over 9 percent of the CO2 emissions in the world. Beef also consumes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. Many areas in the world are dealing with water shortages, and beef production is a large contributor in water consumption. If we consume 5.2 billion pound’s of beef a year, and it takes 2400 gallons for one pound of beef, we use 108 trillion (12 zeros) gallons of fresh water a year on livestock (beef) alone.To put this into perspective lake Superior in MI has the largest fresh water reserve in the United states, 3 Quadrillion (15 zeros) gallons of water.
In many country’s around the world, wasting food is a common practice. In America we typically throw out 21% of our food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Moreover, according to Tim Jones( a professor of applied anthropology at University of Arizona) the percentage of food wasted is up to 40% and higher. Fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, milk and eggs top the list of the most wasted foods. This waste does not only effect starvation and landfills, it also effects the ozone and the air we breath. When organic matter such as fruits rot, they let off methane gas. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is thought to increase climate change. Hotter temperatures means more drought and less available fresh water.
Although there are many other factors attributing to the overpopulation issues, I find that our food choices are the most realist approach in regards to change. If we make changes in just one category (food) such as what and how much we eat, we can start to re-balance the population issue. Our food consumption effects our air (methane), water (108 trillion gallons a year), land ( 30% of agriculture land) and our over all way of life. Making many small changes like, not buying more then you can eat, and lowering your meat consumption, could be the defining factor between abundance and scarcity. If you need help or suggestions on how to help break away from the ‘Beef Bonanza’ send me a comment, or check out vegetarian/ vegan resources.