7 Billion People: Sustainability

3 Nov

A Very Tired Earth

On Monday, the population of the earth reached 7 billion people.  If that number does not scare you it should.  When I was in grade school in the 1970’s, during the campaign for Zero Population Growth, the population of the globe was about to reach 4 billion and I learned that the earth would have great difficulty sustaining anything over 6 billion.

Sadly, my grade school teacher was correct.  Currently we see food and water shortages around the world.  We consume resources at an alarming rate; a rate which is growing exponentially as both India and China start to want the lifestyle many of us in the US take for granted–bigger houses, air-conditioning, and cars.

As  I  reflect on resources, responsibility, and sustainability, I also think about the amount of resources families consume, my family included. It is difficult for me not to be critical of Mitt Romney who has five children, or the Duggar family with 19 children and they get to have their own television show.  How pathetic that we scapegoat women and the LGBT community and distract people with issues around civil rights, rather than addressing conspicuous consumption, resources, and sustainability.

Yes, it seems to be far easier to blame women and their reproductive organs and blame the LGBT community for wanting equality than to address sustainability of the earth and consumerism and profits.  We need look no further than the Occupy Movement to look as we see how out of touch American politicians are with the justifiably angry 99%.

As resources are depleting and jobs are harder to find, we have obstructionist Republicans and apathetic and acquiescent Democrats refusing to raise taxes on the 1% and on corporations.


Identify ways we can all use less–Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Start Zero Population Growth program again.

Attend an Occupy Movement protest and get involved.

If you are able, look at where you buy your food–is the food grown locally?

The call to action is: please  reflect on what ways you can decrease your carbon footprint. Everyone can Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  

6 Responses to “7 Billion People: Sustainability”

  1. Old Jules November 3, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    We humans appear to be locked in on doing things the hard way long-term and the easy way short-term. At the moment the planet appears to be able to marginally support the number 7. So the obvious target is the number 8, 9, whatever it takes to find the limit. Similarly with re-use, recycling, buying locally manufactured or produced goods. The hard way will inevitably assert itself eventually. Old Jules

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 3, 2011 at 7:41 am #

      Great comment. I do worry that many of us humans don’t even think about the distribution of wealth and resources (food, and water).

      • James Queale November 3, 2011 at 11:15 am #

        It scares me a lot, I watched a documentary years ago in my World Issues class. It focused on people who were trying to get sex education to women in 3rd world nations and how they tried to distribute birth control and condoms. It showed how difficult it was because so many of the cultures are anti-female education and so many promote having unsustainable amounts of children. It is a very complex topic for sure. Even in North American culture it is still promoted that to be a “real” woman, you must have a child and so on.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 4, 2011 at 6:20 am #

        Jamie, yes. I, too, am worried. You also bring up very good points around gender roles and the social construction of gender.

  2. Rachel A. Hanson November 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Although, I have to confess that for myself I have a fairly positive outlook.

    Yes, there are food and water shortages globally, and I recognize that’s a problem. However, I have great faith in the inginuity and giving spirit of the human race. I honestly believe that if people followed your recommendations (reduce, reuse recycle) we wouild be just fine, regardless of family size. If people used goods and services close to home and helped those that need help there wouldn’t such a huge concern with the population reaching 7 billion.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 4, 2011 at 6:23 am #

      I wish I could share your optimism, but sadly the facts are that the earth simply cannot support more people. There is not enough land or potable water to support such an infrastructure.

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