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"We Have An Environmental Crisis Because We Have A People Crisis - A Crisis of
Population Growth, of Wasteful Consumption of Resources, and A Crisis of Apathy
An environmental crisis is an emergency concerned with the place in which every
human lives - the environment. A people crisis is an emergency with the
community that inhabits the world environment. A crisis of population growth is
a turning point where the environment can no longer sustain the amounts of
people which it contains. A crisis of apathy and inaction is one where the
human race cannot be motivated to solve the problems with the environment that
they themselves have created.
The claim that we have an environmental crisis because we have a people crisis
is valid because our environmental problems have largely resulted from
population growth, which has lead to apathy and inaction with regard to the
wasteful consumption of resources. Examples are the desertification of the Sahel
in Africa, the one child policy in China and the mis-management of our oceans.
The Sahel is a strip of land that extends for more than 6000 kilometres across
the southern edge of the Sahara desert. It stretches from Senegal and
Mauritania in the west to Ethiopia and Somalia in the east. These nations are
among the world's poorest.
The area is one of social and biophysical crisis because of the way the
population are forced to live; they are destroying the productivity of the land.
The alarming rate of population growth and ever increasing pressure on the land
have initiated an expansion of desert-like conditions into the Sahel - a process
Traditionally, the people of the drier, northern Sahel followed a nomadic
lifestyle, constantly moving their herds of cattle, sheep and goats over large
areas in the search for suitable grazing land. These movements prevented
overgrazing and lessened the likelihood of land degradation. With increasing
human numbers, the increased intensity of land use, and the harvesting of trees
and scrub for fuel wood threaten to overwhelm the region's fragile environment
and result in permanent ecological damage and declining standard of living.
During the 20th century 3.9 billion people have been added to the world's
This is an increase of 244%. Rapid growth occurred because of the improvement
of living conditions, reduced child mortality rates and increased life
The population of undeveloped nations will continue to grow in the foreseeable
future because at present 45% of the population is under 15 years of age.
In the North the population growth is slowing down because children are
considered an expense. In Italy, Germany and Austria, the growth rate is
The slowdown in population growth is a result of the lower fertility rates that
have accompanied improvements in the quality of people's lives and the
increasing use of contraceptives throughout the South. As peoples' economic
well-being improves they tend to have less children.
Future efforts to control population growth will depend on the North's capacity
to share the world's resources and the ability of poor nations to improve the
quality of life experienced by their people.
At the beginning of this century there were some 426 million people living in
China. This has resulted in a country that has endured the demographic effects
of devastating famines, wars, and epidemics for millennia; the population growth
and change that occurred in the 20th century is unprecedented.
By the year 2000, the Chinese population is officially projected to top the 1.3
billion mark. About two-thirds of this 900 million increase was added within the
last 50 years, as mortality was reduced amid high fertility rates.
The Chinese government has been moved by this "demographic affluence" to curb
fertility. China's strategic demographic initiatives (SDI) were contrived out of
this need. The government installed numerous measures for curbing fertil...
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