Overpopulation 1 The Bible tells humans to be fruitful and multiply, but nowhere does the Bible tell us what to do when humans are multiplying themselves into extinction. This issue gets quite a bit of lip service, but we rarely apply it to ourselves – meaning Americans. Whenever we discuss this issue, it devolves into "us against them." "Those people" are the problem. It's not us. We're rich. We're middle-class. We have a high standard of living. We only have 1 ½ to 2 ½ kids. Our unemployment rate is incredibly low. We're not the ones cutting down the rainforest, are we? But, we are part of the problem, and that problem is overpopulation. When we think of overpopulation, we think of Africans, Hispanics, Indians, or Asians. We envision the 1 billion Chinese, or the overcrowded streets of New Delhi, India. What we fail to realize is that even Americans contribute to overpopulation. It's not just about quantity but quality – or lack thereof – as well. As the Worldwatch Institute explains: "An economy's total burden on an ecological system that under girds it is a function of three variables: the size of the population, average consumption, and the broad set of technologies--everything from dinner plates to communications satellites--the economy uses to provide goods and services." Using the Worldwatch Institution's equation, the United States has the distinction of being the most overpopulated country in the world. According to the United Nations Development Program, 3 million additional Americans (the average number of Americans added to the population annually) have the environmental impact of nearly 90 million Indians. Although Americans comprise only five percent of the world's population, we use 25 percent of the world's resources and produce more trash and pollution than citizens of most other nations. The average American's energy use is equivalent to the consumption of two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 32 Indians, 140 Bangladeshis, 284 Tanzanians, and 372 Ethiopians. Vice President Al Gore fancies himself a defender of the environment, but Al Gore has four children. Not just average children, mind you, but rich, white, American children. Americans have the attitude that if we can feed 'em, it's okay to breed 'em, but we rarely consider that our breeding has a global impact. Al Gore's four children – whom he can, admittedly, comfortably support -- consume the same amount of resources as 24 Mexicans, 128 Indians, 1488 Ethiopians (1995 U.S. Statistical Abstract, p. 868). If any of his children have children, they will consume approximately 30 to 40 times the natural resources that a child does in the developing world. In the face of these statistics, it's not uncommon for an American to say, "But our environmental laws are so advanced, and besides, WE'RE not cutting down the rainforest!" True, but our demand for such items as coffee, bananas, wood, and meat Overpopulation 2 ensures that developing nations will sacrifice land in order to make money and appease our demands. The most common refrain of the overpopulation naysayers is: "The entire human population could fit into the state of Texas!" Water and soil to grow food, not space, are the limiting factors in life, and if we continue to destroy the land that supports us, it doesn't matter if we can all fit in Texas. We'll all be dead, and dead people generally don't travel. Our demand for bigger, better, faster, and brighter leads to such environmental catastrophes as sport-utility vehicles. Whereas citizens of other industrialized nations are tooling around in Ford Fiestas, we're driving obscenely large trucks that get 8 or 9 miles per gallon. While we're busy trying to get Africans and Indians to reduce the size of their families, we set up funds and contribute donations to medically engineered children such as the Septuplets and Octuplets. Those two sets of multiples will consume as many resources as 5208 Ethiopians do – and that's not even factoring in the resources used because of their medical conditions – and our population continues to explode because we don't understand overpopulation touches rich nations as well. The United States Census Bureau projects the US population will grow by at least 70 million people over the next 25 years, bringing the number of Americans to around 340 million. As the population continues to grow, more land will have to be destroyed to make room for the new consumers. In fact, in the last 200 years, the United States has lost 50 percent of its wetlands, 90 percent of its northwestern old-growth forests, and 99 percent of its tall grass prairie A myth that Americans buy into is that a 2.0 fertility rate is acceptable. After all, aren't we just replacing ourselves? Sure, if you kick the bucket immediately after the kids are born. More than likely, you'll be around to see the births of your grandchildren, and it's increasingly likely that you'll even be around to see your great-grandchildren come into the world. If you have 2 children, and your 2 children each have 2 children, and those 4 children each have 2 children, that amounts to 14 additional people on the planet AT ONE TIME because of your decision to reproduce. Not only is this costly for the environment, it's costly for taxpayers, and maybe this is a statistic that will grab your attention. Money talks, right? Urban sprawl is the increased land consumed for habitation. People moved out of cities into the suburbs, and as the suburbs become crowded, people move a little farther out of the way. Once there, they need additional services to support their lifestyle. For the state of New Jersey, capital costs due to urban sprawl amount to $1.3 billion over 20 years for Overpopulation 3 roads, water, sewer, and school facilities – all of which will need repairs and expansion as the population continues to grow. This issue may seem irrelevant to your life. It may seem abstract – you live in a nice house, drive a nice car, drink clean water out of nice glasses – but overpopulation doesn't just affect "those people." It affects all of us. So, please, stop breeding. I like inhaling clean air, driving on deserted highways, and having elbowroom on buses.
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