We humans are part of the environment.
Really, all those trees, bugs, birds, sand, walruses, ice floes, endangered orangutans … we’re part of that.
Call me out for pointing out the obvious, but this notion was once a big revelation for me.
I studied and worked in a few different aspects of the environment; as a technologist, a student, scientist, a field practitioner, an activist, an idealist and now a journalist.
Throughout most of these experiences, I always pictured myself as an observer, but not necessarily part of any type of ecosystem. I guess you could picture it like being a plumber; you fix the pipes, but they’re not your pipes. Well guess what – they are our pipes.
So, we alter the environment, we change it, we destroy it, we help sustain parts of it and the important thing to remember is that we are integrally in it. We’re in it a little too much, actually. The human population in 2011 is forecast to reach 7 billion people. Think crowded metros, shopping malls, streets, overburdened aquifers, food demand, product demand, fuel demand, everything, really.
I’ve always found it so funny that people will make such a big fuss about snow geese overpopulation while we’re the most critically overpopulated species there is, considering our impact on the planet over the last several hundreds of years and how quickly we’ve grown thanks to technology and agriculture.
With so many millions of more people out there, can you imagine the increased strain that will be felt by the ecosystem? How much more food will have to be grown and how ethics will stand to face such increasing demands? We’ll need cheaper meat, more corn, more wheat, more space and so on.
Products will be shipped worldwide to the highest bidders, using more fossil fuels, to reach the throes of demand as nations increase their wealth and opt to live more Western lifestyles. In all honesty, that’s what makes supporting local agriculture such a logical choice since it uses less fossil fuels for transport and boosts your local economy, but I digress.
Human overpopulation is a huge problem, but thanks to Oprah and other celebrities, going child-less is becoming the next hip fad. Last year, Sex and the City’s lavish movie about a group of gals with too much money hit the screens. While there is hardly anything environmentally positive about this film, it makes a powerful statement when the main character Carrie Bradshaw and her husband talk to another couple about how their marriage is just about the two of them – no kids allowed.
Carrie Bradshaw is a pretend person, but it is beginning to hit the mainstream to go child-less and they’re speaking up about it. Less people means less strain on resources, causing the planet to give a brief sigh of relief. Oprah Winfrey and Cameron Diaz are part of the GINK (green inclinations, no kids) crowd who proudly live child free; some with the intention on minimizing their impact on the planet by purposefully keeping an empty womb.
When you look at the impact that each individual has on the planet, like the estimated 9,441 metric tons of CO2 used per person in their lifetime, which is close to a 6-fold increase from our parent’s generation, less people might just make sense.