Earth Day 2017: Give Earth a Hand

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
—Walt Whitman

Today is Earth Day. Please take the time to celebrate it in some way. Whether you are someone like me who works hard to educate people so they know how to combat global warming and climate change, or whether you’re someone who denies the problem even exists, this day is still for you. There will be some part of our planet that you care about but is threatened in some way, whether it’s clean air, fresh water, rainforests or oceans, there is something about our home that you love but may lose. So think about that and decide what you can do about it to give Earth a hand. At least today, if not every day.

After all, it’s the only Earth we’ve got.

 

10 Million by 2050

The future ain’t what it used to be.
—Yogi Berra

There’s no doubt that an ever-increasing global population plays a big part in global warming and climate change. More people means more land to live on, more land for crops, and more livestock for food. Clearing all this land and the construction, agriculture and livestock that go along with it generate a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. As the global population increases and as technology continues to progress with populations either living according to first-world standards or at least trying to, the emissions per person steadily increase as well.

According to the United Nations, on October 31, 2011 we reached a global population of seven billion people and it’s currently estimated that we are fast approaching 7.5 billion less than six years later. With more births than deaths, the number continues to climb. Our species has had many ups and downs in population over the centuries, but ever since the plague finished doing its damage around 1350—leaving us with about 370 million human beings at that point—our numbers have been steadily rising. Better sanitation, antibiotics, vaccination, and modern medicine (especially pertaining to childbirth) have all led to less premature deaths than we used to experience. Before modern medicine, a couple needed to plan for about five children simply to keep the population count neutral. Those days are long gone.

And slowly but surely, women’s rights are steadily improving around the world. There is certainly room for improvement in many parts of the globe, but ensuring that women are educated and able to be part of the workforce, and that they have control over their own bodies with respect to family planning have contributed substantially toward the steady decline in birth rates seen all over the world in the last fifty years. Only the poorest war-torn nations continue to have higher birth rates, in part to offset the higher mortality rates those countries still continue to experience.

Since birth rates are declining, might we ever expect to reach a plateau in the rising global population?  Continue reading