Yesterday I know I promised you The Cheese of the Month Club. Well, I had scanner problems, and the cheese is just going to have to wait awhile. Stick with me a week or two, and we will get it all resolved.
In the meantime, this quote from a September Worldwatch paper by Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner and Brian Halweil. In reporting that the world population has grown from 2.5 billion in 1950 to nearly 6 billion today, they note the mathematically obvious yet startling: “… there has been more growth in population since 1950 than during the 4 million years since our early ancestors first stood upright.” The first 2.5 billion people took 4 million years; the next 3.5 billion took 49 years.
The report talks of “Water tables falling on every continent … collapsing fisheries …. We are triggering the greatest extinction of plant and animal species since the dinosaurs disappeared.”
There are slow-motion problems that are tough to get excited about. And the growth is not happening in the rich industrialized countries, for the most part. (Indeed, Italy and Russia are examples of countries on a path, at least for now, to sharply shrinking populations.) It is the other four-fifths of the world’s population that continues to grow at a rapid rate. But in the long run, since the oceans and the atmosphere don’t respect political boundaries, it’s everybody’s problem.
Something to think about next time we’re pondering whether to increase or cut back on funding for international family planning, or programs to help avoid unwanted pregnancies or children having children. It is an interesting irony that many health insurers will cover Viagra but not birth control pills.