We Have Blown Past Earth’s Sustainable Population Level

One of the most taboo topics in America today centers around women’s reproductive rights. Over the past few years, the issue has gone beyond the legality of abortion. Instead, many on the political right have been taking the fight a step further and are going as far as challenging access to contraceptives. Planned Parenthood faced heavy heat from people wanting to see the organization defunded in the US. The Christian conservative wing of the GOP was the first up at arms ready to fight the war on reproductive rights. But I don’t want to talk about whether or not contraceptives, planned parenting, or even abortion is a morally correct decision to make. Instead, I want to know whether they are “necessary evils” to the overall global sustainability of this planet.

The current global population is about to surpass seven billion people. This is a terrifying number for anyone that has studied global sustainability figures. That figured is expected to balloon to over eleven billion by 2050. The Earth currently produces enough resources to sustain a population of around two billion people. That number is generous in that it is based upon the top citizens consuming the amount of resources as a Europeans and not as Americans. Americans on average consume roughly twice as much as Europeans. To put this in perspective, footprintnetwork.org has configured that if all of the nearly seven billion people in the world lived as an average American, it would take FIVE Earth’s to produce enough resources to maintain the rate of consumption. But we know this isn’t the case across the globe.

Some countries have begun to take steps to try and limit this population boom. China adopted a “one child” policy in which they discourage families from having more than one child. They enforce it through levying fines on families who don’t follow. In India, only citizens who have two or fewer children are allowed to run for a government office. Iran forces contraceptive classes to be taken before a marriage license is granted to engaged couples. Then you have to United States. We have tried teaching safe sex practices and sex education classes, which have been met with unheard of objection. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which helps with providing contraceptives and discussing the hazards of unplanned pregnancies are being picketed and threatened to be defunded. Now, access to contraceptives is being targeted.

The argument against these programs is that “abstinence” is the answer. Well, the problem with this is that abstinence is almost unheard of in today’s society. Just turn on a television, watch a movie, or drive to the store. Sex is literally everywhere because sex sells. Trying to tell a teenager going through puberty that despite what they see everywhere, sex is bad, isn’t going to be very well accepted. It should be encouraged, don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, they should know that if they choose to take part in sex how to be safe. Because, after all, we all acknowledge we have a population problem and having more fifteen year old pregnancies are just going to make that matter worse.

So what does it matter if Earth’s resources can’t sustain a larger population? Most people think that just because the ratio is so large right now, that we won’t have a problem in the future. Well the problem with that is we in America are pretty fortunate. We have a problem with poverty in this country, but it’s nothing in comparison to other countries. If you look at the bulk of countries in Central and Southern Africa, entire countries are living in dire conditions. If many of us had to face those conditions, we wouldn’t last a year. The truth remains that if this problem isn’t solved, that is how everyone will be living as our Earthly resources are continually depleted.

So what if we change the amount of resources that we consume, you may ask. Well we certainly beginning to move in that direction and it will make a slight impact but not for a while. However, this still doesn’t solve the problem of space. We can only keep building houses so high, and cemeteries are growing crowded. Just think of the fact that in the next hundred years, nearly seven billion people will die and need somewhere to be buried. We’re going to eventually run out of room. So while contraceptives to may be taboo and abortions may very well be morally wrong, what if they are necessary wrongs? The political right wants you to think that it’s perfectly alright to give birth to a child because there’s a family out there trying to get pregnant that wants your child. My question is why doesn’t the family that wants your child go adopt one of the 250,000 children that enter foster care every single year? It’s because this is a tired argument that they use to guilt people with. If they really want to prevent the number of abortions performed, why not be willing to expand and appreciate the use of contraceptives and sex education? This is one of the most important ways to take on this population issue.

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