Can't Stop or Won't Stop?

Emma Irving, 21.11.2012

This article discusses overpopulation and the future of the human race, stressing the importance of conscious international steps towards curbing growth.

We have been warned: overpopulation is a threat to the survival of all humans, a threat that is exacerbated by a culture of consumption. Even with these warnings we turn a blind eye and go about our daily business as if it won’t matter until some abstract future. We hope that some magical event will prevent our actions from having consequences. We’re just putting off the inevitable truth until it will be too late. Now is the time to act and now will always be the time to act.
The way it is now some people benefit off there being more people in the world because growth is considered good in our society. Corporations could use more workers to exploit while they move their labor pool from one disadvantaged population to the next, more people to buy things and fuel our culture of consumption, all of which gives big motivation to those with big money to manipulate media, corrupt politics, and even use religious virtues to keep the population growing. 
This is a global problem. This era of increased technology and modernization means that developing countries with increased living standards bring longer life spans and lower infant mortality rates. Medical advances cure diseases that threaten our survival. Not that these are bad advances, but combine population growth with our unsustainable living practices and one almost wishes our populations was hindered by these natural solutions. Fabricated and more pleasant solutions to overpopulation rest with the people and with a changing worldview and with preemptive measures to prevent a potentially disastrous situation.
Imagine if there were enough resources to go around, no one going hungry or living in desperation. That day might be possible if we drastically alter our reproductive patterns and reduce consumption while working towards creating sustainable energy, agriculture, and lifestyle. That’s an ideal. In reality, overpopulation overwhelms us and is creating an environmental crises. It seems to be a question of when, not if, the human population will be curbed by natural forces, like mass extinction, widespread disease, resource exhaustion, and/or climate change.
China is not a bad example of government imposed population control. It has prevented anywhere from 100 million to 400 million births since implementing the one child policy. Many criticize it as a human rights violation, but it’s also a great leap forward. With fines for breaking the law and compulsory sterilizations, the one-child policy has dramatically altered the course of reproduction in China. Most of the world focuses on the negatives, but if all countries implemented policies that limited births we would finally be making some progress. 
It is possible to reduce population without changing the law if every person in the world is conscious of population growth and impending environmental and economic collapse. ‘Survival of the fittest’ means the survival of our entire species, it means the species that have learned to balance their needs with the laws of nature will survive. It’s no longer practical for our survival to preach the philosophy of unending growth. If we don’t change ourselves, there are two alternatives that I see-population control being forced on us by the powerful who need to protect their interests, or it being forced on us by the collapse of the natural world as we know it. We need worldwide education on overpopulation and why we need population control, the encouragement of sterilization and other forms of birth control (to be provided for free), and if necessary, international law stipulating birth restrictions. You may be shocked, you may think this is radical, but look at the facts because they tell us loud and clear that we simply cannot afford to continue on this path. 

Bio: Emma Irving is a Sociology student and Sonoma State University and is involved with the Sociology Club and the campus subsidiary of Democracy Matters. Currently she is studying social movements in the Sociology of Social Movements and Collective Behavior class taught by Professor Peter Phillips.

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