Any individual who has taken a high scho has taken a high school biology course will have encountered terms such as carrying capacity, limiting factors and exponential growth. Yet few implement the concept of sustainability.
Until people question the existence, let alone the urgency, of the global environmental crisis, the population stabilization and reduction initiative will remain little more than a lobby largely ignored by politicians.
The United States has been unable to serve as an example to the world for quite some time now. Any way of life that is unlike our own, whether in form or function, is a threat and must promptly be democratized, modernized – Westernized.
However, this begs the question: is the American way of life at all something to be imitated? Or perhaps more importantly, is it possible for the Earth to sustain such a consumptive population any larger than the current level?
The symptoms of a society that is straining under its own weight are all there, yet we’ve successfully managed to evade the issue by misdiagnosing, and offering temporary solutions to the problem. While the United States birth rate has decreased, a common trend in post-industrial societies, our lenient immigration policies continue to increase our national population. Nonetheless, both of these factors are involved in the exponential growth rate. Experts predict that the United States population, if left unchecked, is expected to double in 70 years to a total of 540 million people.
The question is not whether the United States should pursue population policies, but whether our current political system can effectively implement such initiatives.
It does not have to come to this. We must begin our public discourse until consensus is met; sacrifices will have to be made, for democracy can only deal with the ever-changing present while relegating responsibility for the future to the few who care to take it upon themselves.
An average U.S. citizen consumes 50 times more goods and services than a Chinese citizen and approximately twice as many as a Western European. This could very well be attributed to the amount of advertising we encounter on a daily basis, as well as the sheer size of the companies that invest in advertisements.
Transportation issues are dealt with quite liberally, and only recently, during spikes in gas prices, has the engineers’ task turned to designing automobiles and engines which reduce consumption and emissions. Still, the one-passenger car is certainly a common sight, if not an outright majority, on our freeways. These are just some of the issues which must be addressed as we consider both the means to achieving negative population growth and conceptualizing a society that can function outside of the current manifestation of economy.
Our challenge is to stir the minds and hearts of our fellow Americans so that they may awaken to this reality, directing this change for the better before it is snatched from us, subjecting ourselves to the whim of fate and chance.