For World Population Day, what's the best thing we can do to celebrate?

Today, July 11, is World Population Day: a day to think about the human population and how we  can best ensure that our population is sustainable for the health and well-being of both humans and of the planet.

This day was started in 1987 by the United Nations as a way for awareness to be raised on the potential problems with an increasing population, as well as the impact that the current population has on the world.

Since 1987, our population has grown by 2 billion.

Let's put that into perspective:

We have seen unprecedented growth of human populations since the industrial revolution.  The keen-eyed of you may notice that the UN projections show that population growth may tail off in the future.  "Great", you say, "we don't have to worry about population growth from now on!".  I wish this were true.

Right now, we consume more resources than the earth is able to replenish:

This is based upon not just the number of humans on the planet, but our consumption patterns.  That is, the effect we have on the world is more damaging from developed countries (who have a constant or declining population) than in developing countries (who still have fast population growth).  As such, we cannot just talk about reducing population growth in developing countries when we talk about reaching a sustainable population; we must also address the current populations in developed worlds.

We could indeed achieve sustainability if we reduce our consumption alone, but this would be an extraordinarily difficult task.  How do you tell the whole of the US population to reduce their consumption by a quarter?

What is interesting about the US is that half of pregnancies are unplanned.  Just by providing contraceptive family planning access to these women would dramatically cut the ecological footprint this country has on the world.

But of course this has serious political problems, as we have recently seen in the news with the beloved (sic) Hobby Lobby...

Some people believe that technology will come to save us from this ecological disaster.  It's true that technology can play a crucial role in reducing our carbon emissions, but they have not as of yet revealed any innovations that have caused a decline in global emissions.

So being that this is World Population Day, what is the best thing that we can do to celebrate?

Answer: use birth control.


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