Population and Resources
Sociology developed in the Western world after an awareness of the need for proper societal organization was raised there. The New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale is an abstract measure of endorsement of a particular worldview and how eco-friendly it is. The Dominant Western Worldview (DWV) is the most common of all ecological views. According to Harper, the DWV holds that the ecosystem is in a good condition and will remain this way because the westernized world has been living in perfect harmony with nature. It also suggests that the environment and its resources are inherently infinite, so the control of natural reserves is not necessary. In a nutshell, initiators of the DWV have a peculiar understanding of how the world works, and since it has been relatively safe thus far, there is no pressing need for alterations. The NEP was a metric determinant modeled in a survey format. It was developed by the American environmental sociologist Riley Dunlap. It would be interesting to test the NEP on a modern society. Reliable indicators show that due to the DWV, modern communities would rank quite low in the NEP scale.
In modern society, there are not many talks about the environment and the fact that its resources are indeed finite. The human population is taking its toll on the environment. The DWV has misled the public into believing that the world is too vast ever to run out of resources. I was never aware of the untold strain that population can have on the environment until the recent years. Growing up, my peers and I were well educated on how loitering and irresponsible chemical disposal caused pollution. It is only recently through the reading of journals and course material that the connection between human population and environmental pollution has become evident. Pollution might be a runaway problem today, but a reduction in the rate of population growth can give some reprieve from worldwide disaster that may happen one day until humanity can rethink its policies. People do not mind about foreseeable environmental problems because humankind has been known to overcome natural problems through ingenuity. There is a growing awareness in people e that I have had the privilege to talk to, and the collective consensus is that the DWV is not sustainable.
The world is currently still livable, but that might change for the worse if the global population continues to grow unchecked. The common logic suggests that the earth with its resources can hardly harbor so many people comfortably. Currently standing at 7.4 billion people, the world population is closing on the 8 billion mark. The rapid population growth does not disturb people much because it is justified by the belief that human beings are superior to all other animals. Land, the most immediate and physical of all resources has become overpopulated in some countries with the strain not seeming to ease anytime soon.
I think that the DWV has distinct behavioral implications on people in our society. Environmental conservatism is more of a fad than an actual way of living. Anti-pollution campaigns are swiftly followed by a return to normalcy because the situation allegedly cannot be that dire. In the society I live in, people excuse such ‘minor’ acts of pollution as occasional reckless disposal of aerosol cans or littering. The Human Exemptionalist Paradigm (HEP) is better than the DWV, but it still regards humans as a separate entity to their environment. The New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) is still a relatively new school of thought that challenges deep held beliefs of the DWV. The NEP encourages human beings to take into consideration their population strain, resources depletion, and pollution (Catton & Dunlap, 1980). The DWV might be replaced by the HEP in a paradigm shift, but there is yet a much harder task of getting people behind NEP. Humanity has advanced scientifically to a point of forgetting that we are subservient to the ecosystem and not vice versa.
Man always seemed to have an insatiable need for land and fuel. People make the land available by clearing forests and vegetations around forests. During the 20th century, the world saw a spike in deforestation activities, the likes of which had never been seen. With deforestation (for fuel, land, mining and building supplies) came a decline in biodiversity. Today, some tree species have been exhaustively logged for their market value and ironic rareness. Loggers in return have promoted the growth of certain kinds of trees due to their fast growth rates. However, this does not really helps since the effects of such reckless logging have led to a drastic drop in the number of some trees and vegetation. This lack of biodiversity has a negative effect on animals that depend on particular tree species for shelter and food. Whole species have become extinct, and some have become critically endangered. The HEP way thinking has placed the needs of human beings above those of all other living organisms.
The human society is split down the middle in an intense debate over merits and demerits of deforestation. Social issues around deforestation, and reduced biodiversity are concerned with employment, human habitat, human enterprise and justifiable wrongs for the greater good. Deforestation is disapproved of by the many despite it being a staple of humankind exploration to date. Others would argue that rampant deforestation is a necessary step towards the full actualization of man’s civilization. Nowadays, governments have in place checks and balances that try to control deforestation. Such measures include reforestation of forests previously cut down. Proponents of such measures argue that it can sustain a healthy forest cover albeit reducing biodiversity. Opponents, in turn, argue that reforestation can then be used as a justification for more deforestation. The contention here is in the fact that deforestation usually targets old-growth forests whose richly developed trees cannot be replaced in a lifetime. In essence, we might one day have forests of planned-out trees, conveniently grown for future deforestation.
The other big issue the society is facing over deforestation is the problem of employment. Loggers might not be at the top of ecologists’ 'favorite people list', but they do earn their living from logging. Governments also tread delicate political tightropes in dealing with deforestation. A complete abolition or implementation of tighter regulations might make hundreds of thousands people jobless. There is an alternative view that expresses the need for alternative income generating practices. Deforestation is also a necessary source of fuel in some cases and abolishing it would also render a region inadequately powered. Deforestation supplies the paper and timber industry, and the sad truth is that quality wood comes from hardwood trees, which cannot be replenished within an average human’s lifetime.
The dodo bird became extinct out of the necessity for food for passing sailors. Many more animals are being hunted towards extinction to feed man. Preservation of human life has led to animal numbers and fish stocks dwindling irreparably. The moral dilemma of stopping hunting and fishing is one that many societies are facing. At the one hand, there are those motivated by greed in plundering more than is enough for consumption. At the other hand, this are those populations that have grown bigger than the land can comfortably produce. A large population should by no means be a death sentence due to need to preserve the ecosystem. It is however socially prudent to keep a healthy population of animals that can be used by this society as food in the future.
In some cases, conservation of the ecosystem is seen as a non-issue against a backdrop of more urgent problems connected with the economy, healthcare or education. Politicians have avoided talking about the environment and the population strain because it is not on the usual list of ‘pressing issues’.
According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), there were slightly more than 7,393,550,000 people on earth at the time of writing this essay. Canvas community is situated in a county that had a population of 26,090 as of 2014, with a population density of 39.87 people per square mile. These are acceptable numbers, given a growth rate of -1.78% since 2000. This negative growth rate is indicative in a population stabilized with a relatively small young people population.
Population stabilization is being encouraged for its subsequent benefits to the community itself. A stabilized global growth rate would mean reduced environmental strain and rampant depletion of natural resources. Unsustainable population densities have been directly linked to the highest cases of pollution and depletion of resources. Overpopulation has adverse effects on the quality of life for people everywhere. Despite relative isolation in population demographics, overpopulation cannot be an isolated problem but a global one.
Global movements have recently appeared to provide a population regulation. One of such organizations is Population Connection, which advocates for population stabilization by educating young people in a top-down system. The Population Reference Bureau is another of the kind that works towards stabilization of global communities. The PRB provides demographic updates on population growth rates and population densities and relates them to such social factors as diseases, poverty, employment, and race.
Family planning is the only remedy for a non-stabilized global population. Population checking on stabilization has only become a serious issue in recent years. Before then, family planning did not receive enough funding from relevant governments, partly because there were more serious national issues to contend with. The United States in the mid-1960s started a program of funding overseas family planning efforts to help with population stabilization. The U.S. has had to reevaluate its role in global family planning and reproductive health funding over the last couple of years. The program has been marred by controversy and political debates owing to differing views about it. Contraception is not a universally accepted concept, and different cultures will have different takes on the issue.
On December 15, 2014, Congress maintained funding for international family planning for the fiscal year 2015. This could not have come at a better time as the world is experiencing unprecedented population levels while grappling with the effects of global warming. Congress allotted $610 million to multilateral and bilateral funding for reproductive health and family planning in developing countries. Congress also gave $35 million to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which would help some 225 million women in the developing world access family planning and reproductive health services.
The Population Institute saw it as a defeat when Congress slashed family planning budget by $150 million on June 11, 2015. The UNFPA was denied monetary aid from the U.S. Treasury by Congress. Congress went further to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which effectively barred any U.S. aid for foreign family planning efforts.
Population stabilization should be accorded top priority as is the case with other national issues, such as education or healthcare. It is evident to me that there is an invisible relationship between population numbers and all other national aspects. A stabilized population would reduce recurrent government funding of the human resource, hence making resources available for the development of infrastructure and renewable energy. Congress could consider the foreseeable repercussions of a ballooning human population.
Human activities on the planet earth have in recent years been linked to climate change. In its turn, climate change has collectively been made synonymous with the global warming effect. Global warming has been used to explain all kinds of weather and climatic anomalies the world over. From shifting rain patterns to increasingly violent storms and melting of ice caps, global warming is a precursor of climatic changes on earth. The meteorological and larger scientific community is split on a matter regarding climate change and global warming. Opponents of the comprehensive climate change theory argue against its existence entirely. The same school of thought holds that there is no climate change and any shifts in climatic patterns are typical predestined occurrences. Each side offers compelling evidence to back their hard-line stance on the issue of climate change.
Proponents of a global climate change theory point to a plethora of indicators for evidence. The biggest of them is the astronomical amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today that far surpasses that of any other level since humans inhabited this planet. Proponents of a global climate change theory also point to the global surface temperature rise, noting that 10 of humanity’s warmest years have occurred in just the last 12 years. Supporters of the climate change theory have also noted and documented an increase in ocean water temperatures attributed to the global temperature increase.
Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctic are decreasing in mass. Some scientists have cited the melting ice sheets as proof of global climate change. Data from NASA has suggested that Greenland has been losing as much as 36-60 cubic miles of ice per year between the years of 2002 and 2006. Data recovered from NASA has also shown that the Arctic ice sheet is shrinking while glaciers are retreating globally.
The researches of the ocean surfaces have shown a 30% increase in ocean acidity since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Carbon dioxide absorbance by oceanic surfaces takes much of the blame for this spiked acidity. The U.S. has experienced record violent storms and hurricanes within the last 30 years. Dramatic weather patterns globally have been associated with increased industrialization, which, in turn, is linked to pollution.
At the other hand, there are scientists who are not convinced of global climate change. John Coleman, the co-founder of the weather channel refuted global climate change because of the inconclusive science behind it. Just as John, many other opponents of the global climate change theory point to the absence of concrete proof of climate change. In all fairness, climate change cannot be accurately proved like any other scientific discovery, which gives skeptics a leeway to doubt it. According to climate change skeptics, the time spans used to reference climatic changes are not adequately long, and climate change proponents are sensationalists with short term data.
My opinion is that climate change is a glaring reality that the world faces. It is not difficult to identify discrepancies in the weather forecasts nowadays with those recorded in older textbooks. People in my community complain of an increased temperature during the warm months. The timing of increased wild and unpredictable weather patterns and that of reported climate change seems to be more than a coincidence. Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since the advent of the industrial revolution. It would be somewhat foolhardy not to relate this to human industrialization itself. Sudden ecological events, such as retreating glaciers and melting ice sheets are happening faster than they should be. Increasing industrialization can then be directly linked to the rapid shift in climatic conditions.