Population and Pollution
Now that the public has finally woken up to the danger that global warming and other associated forms of environmental disaster that threatens our planet, very serious moral or ethical choices face us as well. Foremost is the question of population control. For if we already confronted with amounts to an environmental Armageddon with some six-billion or more people on the face of the earth today, what happens when the population reaches—as experts predict—at least nine-billion by the end of this century?
some of these same experts are claiming that once we reach the nine-billion
mark things will stabilize at that point.
But there seems to be a “Catch 22” lurking in that prediction. That’s because the prediction is based
largely on the observation that when countries become “developed” through
industrialization, population growth is almost inevitably decreased, or as is
the case with
major example of this problem at present is the
what to do? China has long taken
draconian measures—such as
enforcing a one child per family rule,
even by abortion if necessary—to stabilize it population growth, and seems to have largely succeeded,
even to the point where in some areas it is now offering family subsidies to
those couples who produce an additional, especially girl, child.
appears then that the only sane remedy—one that includes a limit on population growth—has to be one that also
emphasizes drastic measures to cut back the amount of pollution, beginning with
those populations that are consuming the highest amounts of energy, both
proportionately—such as the
whose energy consumption, in absolute terms, will soon equal that of the USA.
High -tech fixes, like producing large amounts of ethanol, to replace
petroleum-based fuels (gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil) is not enough, and, in
fact, in some ways could make the situation worse. Replacing fossil-fuel generated electricity
with that produced by hydroelectric and wind-powered generators may help
some. New, safer nuclear-powered
electrical generating plants, such as those developed by
However, when push comes to shove, nothing can replace the necessity of adopting a simpler, less energy-consuming life-style. Here, on this count, the so-called “developing nations” still have an advantage. This is the kind of life most of their people have been living all-along.
What remains is, especially for us who have lived so lavishly at the expense of the environment for so long, is to share the really worth-while life-enhancing developments, such as our nutritional, medical, and other social advances with less-fortunate peoples, yet at the same time, ridding ourselves of the wasteful and pollution-producing habits that are rapidly destroying our environment.
It is this challenge, perhaps more than any other, that forms the moral/ethical imperative of the remainder of this new century. Many of the other problems, like war, disease, famine are directly or indirectly connected with environmental degradation. Some of them may be temporarily “fixed” by various short-term measures. But if we fail to secure the long-term future of planet Earth as a suitable home for life, we will have, in the end, lost it all.
Population&Pollution.doc (675 words) 07-02-17.html