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There's an Elephant in the Room - An Overpopulation Article

There is a snake in the grass; a ticking time bomb so to speak. It is an issue little spoken of and rarely does it come up in our legislative assemblies. However, before we are all even old geezers, we will succumb to this malevolent force. It will steal our natural resources, pillage our pocket books, worsen conditions, and cripple our society as a whole. People are popping out more younglings than is acceptable for our dear environment. This cannot be allowed to happen; it will not be allowed to happen assuming our congress and our assemblies across the world take legislative action and our citizens take responsibility. There will be naysayers and folks saying it cannot or should not be done. They must be on hallucinogens, because it is imperative that there is a limit on how many younglings a family is allowed to have.

First and foremost, our resources simply cannot support this overpopulation strain. By the year 2050, it is projected that there will be 9.2 billion humans sucking up our resources at an exceedingly fast rate. One model, suggested by the United Nations Population Division, claims that there may even be 10 billion people by the year 2055 and almost 14 billion by 2060. Looking into the past, our world population grew from 5 billion to 6 billion in just ten years, and is now currently riding at 6.88 billion. A single person is estimated (based on the U.S. citizen) to create 128,000 pounds of garbage within their lifespan. The amount of waste produced by the U.S. alone is phenomenal. Already landfills are failing to adequately solve the problem and places to put our garbage are becoming fewer and fewer. The rising population will only add to the problem. According to the U.K. Sunday Times, “The Optimum Population Trust….says each baby born in Britain will, during his or her lifetime, burn carbon roughly equivalent to 2½ acres of old-growth oak woodland - an area the size of Trafalgar Square.” Clearly every statistic, fact, data point, and especially common sense, suggests that this is a problem and not environmentally sustainable. The statistics speak for themselves. Not only will we run out of the very resources that enable us to function, but we would also create an inhospitable environment from sheer pollution. It makes no sense for society to damn itself like this.

While this is environmentally unstable, it also creates an unbearable burden on many families. For instance, the Octomom has been receiving a lot of attention recently. Not content with being the single parents of six children, she decided to be the proud recipient of in-vitro fertilization. This resulted in her having octuplets. She has extreme financial difficulty, even with major assistance from her parents, friends, and church. While this is an extreme example, it does show the financial troubles that accompany a larger family. However, in a more realistic setting, troubles and tribulations still hold true. As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists states:
“History shows that while world population increased from 2.5 billion people to 6 billion people in the second half of the twentieth century, it is likely that those in a constant state of hunger more than doubled from 500 million to 1.2 billion during the same period. Trying to eliminate these inequalities without addressing further population growth is simply pouring gasoline on the flames of poverty.”
The average American family tends toward two or three children, adding to population count. This is not as dramatic as other countries, though. That does not, however, mean that we can support that sort of population. Currently, in the United States, 39% of children are living under the poverty line. What this does is create a large portion of people who may not have the funds to attend a college will end up in miserable jobs, or without jobs at all. As of now, it is difficult to get a job as a waiter or waitress without a bachelor’s degree. With so many people, we are harming the future of our nation and earth. More kids bring on an influx of students. More students results in larger classroom which in turn leads to a worse education for everyone. It is like the difference between buying a fitted or custom fitted hat and then buying a mass produced one-size-fits-all. The sad irony of the one-size-fits-all being that it really fits no one, much like how schools have had to adjust to the massive amounts of kids. Then we send these fledglings out into the world with ill-fitting hats and expect them to fly when really all we have done is built a subpar (at best) workforce. This would result in a severe deficit in productivity because as a nation we chose quantity over quality when we should have selected quality over quantity. Financially and economically speaking, it would be far better to put a cap on how many kids a parent can have, limiting it to two, so that we do not add to population growth. In so doing we could begin to better manage our schools. Families could better support their chickadees financially. We would enter a world of strong productive workers who can help bring efficiency to a nation desperately in need of it. One could say that with more people paying taxes, more schools could be built to accommodate the situation. However, many cities would have to be modified or renovated to accommodate such a change. However, hat would a very large amount of money and time. Then, considering that this problem is ever expanding and because of that we would have to continue renovating cities and building new schools, it would be much more cost effective to simply put a cap on kids.

Global climate change has many factors attributed to it, however, many of these factors are a product of, or at least influenced by the amount of people in the world. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:
“The time we have available to achieve both of these goals is key. As stated previously, the United Nations currently projects that world population will reach about 9 billion by 2050. Meanwhile, David Rutledge at the California Institute of Technology recently looked at projections for the depletion of conventional oil, gas, and coal reserves based on the application of M. King Hubbert's technique for determining peak oil and estimated that, by 2076, 90 percent of these reserves will be gone…. Aside from the devastating climate effects of burning all our fossil fuel, if demographers and Rutledge are correct, in less than 70 years, humankind will number 9 billion and energy will be scarce and expensive.”
This is not the sort of society anyone would want to live in. Over the latter half of the 20th century, we multiplied by a factor of seven and burned so many fossil fuels in such a short period of time that we have sent a shockwave through the earth that is going to result in environmental catastrophe. Consider this analogy: our consumption of fossil fuels was represented by rocks, and our earth was a pool of water. We slowly, over the course of many years, burn fossil fuels; in keeping with the pool analogy we are throwing small stones (pebbles) and the effect (ripple) is not very large. However, this is not the case, instead in a very short period of time burned all of our fossil fuels; we took an enormous boulder, and threw it into the pool, causing massive tsunamis. The reasoning for this is because of the aforementioned dramatic global population growth, which accelerated our resource expenditure, resulting in the tsunami. The wrath of global climate change has come. We can lessen our punishment by controlling our population growth.

One of the more hefty difficulties in regards to passing a law with the brilliant action of a procreation cap is that it comes into arguable contradiction with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. People on the other side of the tracks would argue that such a limitation would violate Reproductive Rights section of the declaration. However, this goes into the category of currently debated rights which is defined as thus, “Events and new possibilities can affect existing rights or require new ones. Advances of technology, medicine, and philosophy constantly challenge the status quo of human rights thinking.” Therefore, the validity of reproductive rights is already in question. Thus, they cannot make the argument of reproductive rights without having to acknowledge the other edge of the sword. They are already in contradiction with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Another argument against the aforementioned proposed action is that it would cripple the nation’s morale. It would seem to the opposition that such a restriction of rights would result in a myriad of unhappy campers. However, this argument pales in comparison, and indeed seems a little frivolous, when compared to the plethora of gargantuan issues that are gathering to cripple morale. In a world of economic despair, war, fighting and dying, there are certainly larger issues than whether someone wants another little Johnny, Billy, or even a Joe. It is a drop in the bucket. If anything, the economic and environmental improvements as a result of population control should nullify the negative morale effect, and perhaps even improve the nation’s morale.

Perhaps the most convincing argument against population control is the question of how it would be enforced. Many a person has said that you cannot force someone to get an abortion. Or, alternatively, what if someone has twins, or more. The answer to this is really the most simple. Abortions should not be enforced unless the patient desires one. However, there does need to be some sort of action taken. The solution would be to either tax or fine the parent a rather large sum of money, perhaps half that of the standard income tax as a minimum or fine many hundreds of dollars. This would certainly discourage parents from having a third child and the government would use the money to make living conditions better and compensate for the child. Assuming a family already has one child, and then has twins floating down the stream, it would seem unjust to enforce this policy. An amendment/stipulation/whathaveyou could be made to provide an exception to this sort of unique scenario. Not only would the rate of birth go down, but for those situations in which an infraction is made, the government gains more money and is duly compensated. It is both humane and practical.

There is an elephant in the room and its name is Overpopulation. It is little spoken of and most prefer to politely ignore the imposing and disconcerting beast. But when there is an elephant in a place it should not be, something must be done with it. The issue must be resolved. Otherwise, this elephant may, in the ensuing chaos, run amok and trample over all of us, destroying the room and creating inhospitable living conditions assuming any of us survive the fallout at all. This elephant is not just a single elephant. It brings with it a herd. It heralds the coming of the elephant of global climate change, the elephant of environmental destruction, of economic collapse, and lastly, perhaps most ominously, it heralds the elephant of the wrath and revenge of nature itself. But something can be done about! We need not sit idly by and watch our society crumble around us! If we take action now and pass legislation regarding population control we might just make it. I implore you, the members of Congress, to do your job and save our skins. I implore you, citizens of Terra, to take your own measures to curb and stop the beast, before the beast stops us.

Join the Discussion

This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

Hazel-daisy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm
i really like this opiece! i like how at the stat you used metaphors and its so informative! its also really interesting and it seems that you are very passionate about this subject, which is good! great work! :)
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm
Thanks  you :)
julian This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 11:57 am
Wow, you certainly have a lot to say on this ever-vital topic of discussion. I really enjoyed reading this article, and you stated some very intriguing amounts of information for me to chew on. I do agree that your idea of limiting the amount of kids a parent may have (like in China right now) may help solve the problem, but its very hard to institute. Well, this is beautifully written, and I liked your use of metaphor! Excellent!
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm
Thank you berry much :)
redcg416 said...
Feb. 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm
It was an interesting article. It was informative.  I have to say that it was a weird choice of a solution. Cool article all together
Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 6:22 pm
Good informative article...actually left me a little concerned at the end! I have to admit that I'm not really fond of your solution. Rather than discouraging people from having children, why not use our resources in a much better way? I think that would be more effective. Good job for tackling a tough subject!
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm
Thanks for the comment.  I selected discouraging people from having kids because that is the most permanent solution.  Of course we should utilize resources more effectively, it buys us time but doesnt offer a more permanent solution.
cupcake23 said...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm
I liked it.  The only thing that didn't fit with the intellectuality of thepiece was old geezers.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm
I cry a little when I write something too serious
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