Monday, November 28, 2011

World half empty or half full?

By: Lynzi Acree

October 31, the world population officially hit 7 billion. While there is no way to be exactly sure, this number is estimated based on statistics.
Some may be wondering about the implications of this amount of people; is it a good thing or a bad thing? The truth is, 7 billion is a really freaking-huge number. Nine zeroes do not reasonably represent the sheer magnitude of how many 7 billion is.
According to CNN.com, if you filled 7 billion average-sized thimbles with water, that water could fill at least 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Seven billion seconds ago, it was 1789.
Pessimistically and realistically, this is a horrible, awful, really bad milestone for the population to hit. We are running out of room and resources quickly. Many experts would agree that the carrying capacity of the Earth is approximately 10 billion humans, and that number is far too close for comfort. No one can really know what will happen when we reach carrying capacity. We can’t even be sure of the number the population will grow to before that mysterious thing happens, but it would probably be very bad.
In my opinion, the best thing would be if we could control the population before we got anywhere near the carrying capacity. A good way to do this is to integrate women into the work force so that they no longer feel their only purpose is to take care of their family. Some countries don’t make any governmental effort to execute a plan like this. Another competent method is education. You can’t just hand out birth control pills; you have to teach people how to use contraceptives. This method usually gradually lowers the population. The most efficient system is to limit the number of children each couple can have, like China.
In the entire world, there are 15,641,597,556 acres of habitable land. That’s more than twice 7 billion, but much of that is covered in forests or used for growing crops and cattle, or other food sources. The more people there are, the more land we need for food sources, and the more land we need for living space. Eventually, there may be no more room for either. What then?
Well, Thomas Malthus theorized that when the Earth became overcrowded, war and plague would break out until the population was considerably smaller, if not completely extinct.
If our options are population control or extinction, odds are most people would choose population control.

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