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human population,The Strain of Overpopulation on the Environment

April 1, 2016 | Author: | Posted in geography, nature

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Human population , The Strain of Overpopulation on the Environment

Today we find a dynamic revival of ethnic , cultural and racial particularize in the “advanced ” societies of the West . Whether in the figure of a peaceful cultural revitalization or as a violent demand for political independence , such movements are now under way everywhere . In the North there is nostalgia for the old days when people shared common values while immigrants could be counted on to disappear into the melting pot and become incorporated . There [banner_entry_middle]

is a fear of social fractionation (Boulding , 1988 , 57

Behind all the great climactic resists of history we will find symptoms of an increasing population . when people have been inspired so that the quality of their lives has improved they have let their numbers rise The demand for more possessions for the better life has always been more than the customary political systems could provide . And the grand themes of history have been the result : repressions , revolutions , liberations and constantly , in the end , aggressive war (Colinvaux , 1980 , 17

In considering the destruction of the contemporary world , we are likely to have our concerns sacked by technological optimists who , as accepting that all preceding great civilizations have fallen , believe that contemporary technology will save modernity from such a fate . We then set out to show by way of illustrations that modern technology is a double-edged sword that often has hidden retribution effects . Examples of this prospective for chaos and destruction were seen in nanotechnology , advanced computer technology , and biochemistry . On this basis , we now reject the claim that the modern world is resistant to breakdown and collapse , because of its technological erudition . in contrast , breakdown , collapse and chaos might occur because of the technological involvedness of the modern world

In Healing a Wounded World ( Smith et al , 1997 , we gave a comprehensive argument , based upon the restrictions to growth position why humanity will not “solve ” the environmental crisis and why the contemporary world is doomed . We think that on the basis of present trends , a great die-back in human population numbers will occur though we remain agnostic concerning the “long “-term endurance of the human race itself . We remain positive in the “moderate “-term : after a time of substantial death and destruction , some people will endure living unhealthy lives in a strictly polluted environment . The key to this vision is the limits to growth position that there are biophysical limits to the matter-energy throughputs of the modern economy and that the ecological crisis indicates that modern economies have already “overshot ” their limits and are now living on scarce ecological capital (Smith et al , 1997 . There is no real debate about whether , in the short-run , resources are limited . Even a cornucopian such as Julian Simon accepts this . If his message is one of “receding limits and increasing resources and possibilities (Simon and Zinsmeister , 1995 79 , then rationally he must accept that in the instant some limits must exist , or else there would be nothing from which to recede . Simon believes that human initiative and technology will allow us to solve the environmental crisis we do not

There is also little controversy concerning the proposition that severe ecological damage can lead to an escalation of inequalities within societies and a spiraling of international conflicts . Gurr has argued that “the greater the relative increases in scarcity , and the more rapid its onset , the greater are its negative political consequences ( Gurr 1985 , 54 . Further “if economic effects occur rapidly and in circumstances of uncertainty , the potential for inequities , conflict and crisis pressures on governments are considerable ( Gurr , 1985 , 55 .The worst-case scenario for 2010 , with respect to food and agriculture sees Africa ‘s malnourished reaching 300 million , with 100 million people requiring international aid . In India , the stable functioning of the monsoon is desired for 70 percent of its rainfall . A mere 0 .5 ?C rises in temperature could reduce the wheat crop by 10 percent (Myers and Kent 1995 , 3 . One billion people worldwide already face water shortages . In northern China , most water stocks are already being used to aptitude , in a region where half a billion people live and where a quarter of the nation ‘s food is produced . Climatic effects could be disturbing . Myers and Kent estimate that by 2010 , 500 million people will be experiencing absolute shortages in firewood and 180 million people will be affected by desertification . Urbanization trends in the developing world will intensify . China ‘s urban population will reach 600 million by 2010 which will greatly increase the demand for water . Already China ‘s agriculture takes 87 percent of all available water (Myers and Kent 1995 , 4 . By 2025 , on the worst-case state of affairs all of these stresses will intensify “The urban expected to reach four billion people . In the wake of a 2 .4-times increase in the increasingly unable to cope , with systems breakdown becoming extensive ( Myers and Kent , 1995 , 6 . The end result conflict and social chaos

The majority cities in the developing world will face extreme water shortages by 2010 (Pearce , 1997 . At the United Nations Human Settlement Conference , Habitat II , the UN Habitat secretary-general recognized that “water is going to be the most hotly contested urban issue facing the world community in the twenty-first century . The water crisis is coming about not only because of a lack of water in some regions , but also from the incapability of governments to make the necessary investments in a timely manner to ensure that water is available in all cities ( Erdem 1996

According to Brown , China ‘s population grow by 490 million people between 1990 and 2030 , giving it a population of 1 .6 billion . This figure is probable to be regarded by most demographers as too high . yet Brown ‘s point remains that the sheer size of China ‘s population means an even slower rate of population growth will interpret into a huge population raise by almost four present day Japans . Alarmingly “Two more beers per person in China would take the complete Norwegian grain harvest . And if the Chinese were to consume seafood at the same rate as the Japanese do , China would need the annual world fish catch ( Brown 1995b , 30

Ravi Batra , in his book The Myth of Free Trade ( Batra , 1993 , notes that since 1950 the world ‘s population has more than doubled while global economic activity has quadrupled , but between 1950 and 1990 trade grew 1 .5 times faster than the pace of the increase in economic activity (Batra , 1993 , 220 . Trade is therefore a bigger polluter than industrialization . For instance , air transport has made international trade in unpreserved foods possible , but at the cost of dumping millions of tons of jet fuel wastes into the atmosphere . Air borne trade alone emanated into the skies 2 .1 million tons of nitrogen oxides in 1990 Batra , 1993 , 223 . It makes no environmental sense for one firm to make (steel ) nuts in Asia , another bolts in Europe , and a third firm to put them together in the United States ( Batra , 1993 , 228 . Batra , an economist who had previously supported free trade , sums up “The moral of the story is that international trade is an infinite source of pollution , and the environmental costs of global commerce have been globalization will accelerate the devastation of the biosphere

Many internationalists and supporters of the idea of a world government and a “new world ” have done so as they believe that internationalism will support peace . Does free trade promote peace ? An argument could be made that this is so in Europe , but then again it could be argued with equal force that it is peace which promotes free trade . Australia even accepts Chinese imports produced with forced prison labor in Chinese gulags . Something of an arms race is developing in the ASEAN region where nations such as Brunei , Indonesia , Malaysia the Philippines , Singapore , and Thailand are acquiring weapons because of professed threats from China and Japan . In a free trade world there is nothing wrong with this–even in countries selling nuclear weapons to buyers with the most money–providing the free market rules

The image of a free trade world is perhaps best detained by this fact the Textile , Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia estimations that there are more than 300 ,000 home-based workers in the Australian garment industry , most from non-English speaking backgrounds , working in sweatshops and garages at piece rates . Asian children as young as seven work late at night on sewing machines , in the name of competence and global antagonism ( Le Grand , 1995

The potential for economic breakdown and the resultant tidal waves of social unrest is inherent to the capitalist economic system . Worse efforting to run an economy based upon a flawed theory such as neoclassical economics (Smith et al , 1997 ) will inexorably lead to large-scale problems

Not only does the global capitalism of the bless world face the dilemma of integrating the existing population of the world into a harmonious economic system , but it should also deal with the problem of technologically engendered unemployment

The potential for economic breakdown and the resultant tidal waves of social strife is intrinsic to the capitalist economic system . Worse efforting to run an economy based upon a flawed theory such as neoclassical economics (Smith et al , 1997 ) will inexorably lead to large-scale problems

Not only does the global capitalism of the bless world face the dilemma of assimilating the existing population of the world into a harmonious economic system , but it should also deal with the dilemma of technologically generated unemployment . Jeremy Rifkin has discussed this trouble in depth in his book The End of Work ( Rifkin , 1995 . Rifkin begins his book with the problem of global unemployment : over 800 million people are unemployed or underemployed , a figure that is now over one billion people . In this condition a third industrial revolution is taking place by virtue of rapid developments in computers and information technology , in which the twenty-first century will see virtually fully automated production . The service industry is also causal to this pool of unemployed . Labor-saving technologies and corporate restructuring in the single month of January 1994 resulted in America ‘s largest employers lying off over 108 ,000 workers , most being in the service sector ( Rifkin , 1995 , xvi . More than 75 percent of the industrial labor force of most nations performs repetitive tasks that machines will be capable to replace . In the United States alone , over 90 million jobs in a workforce of 124 million could , in principle , be replaced ( Rifkin , 1995 , 5 ) so that “massive unemployment of a kind never before experienced seems all but expected in the coming decades (Rifkin , 1995 , 5 . The reason for this is that this third industrial revolution is based on the replacement of the human mind . This might be done by “reengineering ” making organizations computerized and in turn enabling entire structures of management and jobs to be eliminated . In the United States this could lead to the loss of up to 25 million jobs

The major challenge to employment constancy comes from the new technologies of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence Genetically engineered vanilla can be produced for less than US 25 per pound compared to natural vanilla which sells for US 1 ,200 a pound . As Rifkin notes “The export of vanilla beans accounts for more than 10 percent of the vanilla represents two thirds of the country ‘s export earnings (Rifkin 1995 , 124-25 . Further technological advances raise the prospect of molecular farms that eradicate orthodox agriculture altogether and replace conventional food by indoor tissue-culture food production based on biomass crops , artificially flavored by hereditarily engineered flavors . Thinking machines , the replication of consciousness in a thinking robot have the prospective to replace humans in any job if they can be constructed . In summary

We are rapidly approaching a historic crossroad in human history . Global corporations are now capable of producing an unprecedented volume of goods and services with an even smaller workforce . The new technologies are bringing us into an era of near workerless production at the very moment in world history when population is surging to unprecedented levels . The clash between rising population pressures and falling job opportunities will shape the geopolitics of the emerging high-tech global economy well into the next century (Rifkin , 1995 , 207


Batra R ( 1993 ) The Myth of Free Trade : A Plan for America ‘s Economic Revival . New York : Charles Scribner ‘s Sons

Boulding E ( 1988 . Building a Global Civic Culture : Education for an Interdependent World . Syracuse , New York : Syracuse University Press

Brown L . R ( 1995b . Who Will Feed China ? Wake-Up for a Small Planet New York : W . W . Norton


( 1980 . The Fate of Nations : A Biological Theory of History . Harmondsworth : Penguin Books

Erdem S ( 1996 “UN Warns World of Big Dry to Come . The Sydney Morning Herald June 5 : 14

Gurr T . R ( 1985 “On the Political Consequences of Scarcity and Economic Decline . International Studies Quarterly 29 : 51-75

Le C . Grand ( 1995 . Little Fingers Sew as Social Fabric Unravels . The Weekend Australian December 9-10 : 1 ,4

Myers N . and Kent J ( 1995 . Environmental Exodus : An Emergent Crisis in the Global Arena . Washington D . C : Climate Institute

Pearce F ( 1997 “Thirsty Meals that Suck the World Dry . New Scientist February 1 : 7

Rifkin J ( 1995 . The End of Work : The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era . New York : J .

. Tarcher /G .

br Putnam ‘s Sons

Simon J . and Zinsmeister K ( 1995 “How Population Growth Affects Human Progress . In : M . Cromartie , ed . The Nine Lives of Population Control . Grand Rapids , Michigan : W . B . Eerdmans : 61-79

Smith J . W , Lyons G , and Sauer-Thompson G ( 1997 . Healing a Wounded World : Economics , Ecology and Health for a Sustainable Life . Westport Connecticut and London : Praeger

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