Timeless Spirit Logo ARTICLE

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. July's Theme: "Creating Your Own Reality"
Volume 4 Issue 5 ISSN# 1708-3265
Index Meet Our Staff Free Subscription Donations Come Shopping Advertising Archived Issues


What Are We Creating Through Procreation?
by David Suzuki PhD

In October of 1999, somewhere on Earth, human being number six billion was born. Today we are less than 300,000,000 people away from 7 billion! There are now three times as many of us on this planet as there were when I was born in 1936. That's an incredible increase, and even though growth rates have slowed somewhat, population will continue to be one of the key factors dictating human and environmental health throughout the next century.

One hundred years ago, we were just one of many species on this planet. Today there is no ecosystem, no species on Earth who has not been affected by human activity. We are everywhere, both literally and through our impact on world systems like the oceans and the atmosphere.

It could have been much worse. Forty years ago, in his landmark book, The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich wrote that the world could not sustain the then exploding human population. He created a storm of controversy with predictions of starvation, disease and death due to overpopulation if the high birth rate continued unabated.

Thankfully, Ehrlich wrote his book at what appears to have been the peak of relative world population growth. Since then, extensive birth control campaigns and improved education have had dramatic results, and birth rates have dropped in many countries. Fifty years ago, women around the world had an average of five children in their lifetimes. Today that number has dropped to 2.7.

However, lower birth rates only account for two-thirds of the reduction in population growth. The other one-third reduction has a much more ominous source - an increasing death rate. Those of us lucky enough to live in Canada have seen our life expectancy increase steadily over the years. But in some countries, the trend towards longer life spans has made a sharp retreat.

In much of Africa, AIDS is an epidemic. In Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, close to one-quarter of the adult population is infected with HIV, the virus thought to cause AIDS. These countries are expected to lose 20 per cent of their adult populations to the disease in the next decade. In Zimbabwe, life expectancy has dropped from 61 years less than a decade ago to just 39 years today.

And while population growth rates have slowed in many nations, some still continue to expand rapidly. Pakistan and Nigeria, for example, both expect to see their populations double in the next 50 years. Ethiopia, with the world's highest birth rate, is predicted to almost triple its population. Meanwhile, India has passed the one billion mark, fast catching up to China as the world's most populous nation. As the populations of these nations increase, so does the strain on their natural resources. Water tables in India, for example, are falling fast and arable cropland is disappearing in countries like Pakistan and Ethiopia.

Even though many birth rates are declining, we are still in the momentum of population growth, as more than one billion youths are just entering their reproductive years. Adding to the pressure on the resources of our Earth will be the continuing push for an ever-expanding global economy. According to the United Nations report, Global Environment Outlook 2000, the continued poverty of the majority of the world's population and the excessive consumption by the minority are the two main causes of environmental degradation, which continues to accelerate.

The world's population is expected to reach about nine billion by 2050. If current trends towards smaller families continue, we will not see another doubling of the population in the coming century. That's a relief, but the 6.7 billion people on the planet now are already consuming more than the Earth can replenish. Adding another two billion people will be disastrous unless we start reducing our impact now.  

David T. Suzuki PhD, the Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. David has received consistently high acclaim for his thirty years of award-winning work in broadcasting; explaining the complexities of science in a compelling, easily understood way. He is well known to millions as the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's popular science television series, The Nature of Things. Take the Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

Copyright (c) 2007 by Timeless Spirit Magazine. All articles are the copyright of the particular writers and cannot be reprinted without their expressed permission. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means whatsoever, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder. We retain legal counsel to protect our copyrights.

Any advice given is for informational purposes only.