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Population growth is outstripping resources

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Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:29 am, Sat Sep 29, 2012.

In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton established the Council on Sustainable Development. The council's goal was to stabilize the United States' population through prudent family planning and promoting a greater understanding between consumption and environmental degradation. Environmentalists refer to the relationship between humans and available resources as the ecological footprint — the more people, the larger the footprint.

The CSD remained active during Clinton's two terms. Unfortunately, birth rates and immigration skyrocketed under the Clinton administration and has continued at record high levels under Presidents Bush and Obama.

In the two decades that have passed since Clinton founded the CSD, U.S. population has increased from 280 million to nearly 310 million. In hindsight, the CSD was nothing more than political window dressing to give the appearance of ecological concern.

Recently, a group of 40 world leaders, including Clinton, former South African president Nelson Mandela and former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, issued a report that, like the CSD did years ago, sounded sustainability alarm bells. The report's findings are also endorsed by the U.N. University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNWEH) and Canada's Gordon Foundation.

The Interaction Council, as the group is known, stressed looming water shortages. It said that about 910 cubic miles of fresh water is taken annually from rivers and lakes.

The Interaction Council found that: "With about 1 billion more mouths to feed worldwide by 2025, global agriculture alone will require another (240 cubic miles) of water per year ... equal to the annual flow of 20 Niles or 100 Colorado Rivers."

Prime Minister Chretien included the grim observation that today, one billion people have no fresh water and two billion lack basic sanitation. Chretien added that about 4,500 children die of water-related diseases every day, the equivalent of 10 jumbo jets falling out of the sky with no survivors.

The world population is now just over 7 billion. With 2025 population estimates nearing 8 billion, the leaders fear that armed conflicts over access to potable water could arise. In China and India, the world's most populous nations, demand for water will exceed supply. Examples of water-related conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians over aquifers, between Egypt and other nations sharing the Nile, or between Iran and Afghanistan over the Hirmand River have already developed.

While the United States water situation is better than in the most arid parts of the world, shortages are a crisis in the making. Brad Udall, the University of Colorado's Western Water Assessment wrote, "We're on a collision course between supply and demand," and added that in 2012 "severe or worse" drought persists in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

In California, three reservoirs — San Luis, Isabella, and Casitas — reported moderate drought conditions in June, the Department of Water Resources notes.

Non-farm businesses in 15 California counties — Butte, Contra Costa, Glenn, Mendocino, Plumas, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Trinity — qualify for Small Business Administration federal disaster drought loans because of last year's drought.

The USDA's Secretarial Disaster Designations map shows two new California counties added to the existing disaster areas: Tuolumne and Calaveras.

Blue ribbon panel reports serve the valuable purpose of raising awareness among consumers who might otherwise think resources are unlimited. But what's needed is action: Family planning and reduced consumption are the first two steps to achieving balance between humans and nature's irreplaceable bounty.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He lives in Pittsburgh. Contact Joe at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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Welcome to the discussion.

8 comments:

  • John Lucas posted at 7:28 am on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    Joanne, your point about "the Republican party. Willard Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are adherents to two of the the world's religions that advocate massive reproduction" ia well taken. In the end we will either stabilize the population or we will face disaster. Ms Tygert saying the problem is just that we waste too much flies in the face of logic. We cannot continue to increase the population forever for there will come a time when we overload the ability of the planet to support our population. We can work on and solve the problem ourselves or we can let nature do it. To deny there is a disaster in the making will lead to at least untold suffering but even the end of out planets ability to support us.

     
  • John Lucas posted at 7:10 am on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    John Lucas Posts: 2730

    I cannot tell you how much this pains me. Joe Guzzardi, You have written a well thought out and logical column born out of the facts. Well done.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 3:54 pm on Mon, Oct 1, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    Romney made millions from abortions with his investments in Stericycle. [sleeping]

     
  • Linda Poteet posted at 2:40 pm on Mon, Oct 1, 2012.

    originalgripgirl Posts: 6

    Well said Sarah! I agree with you about how wasteful we are.

    Joanne, those kids out there in front of Planned Parenthood may have been children of friends of mine... probably homeschooled. Kids understand a lot more than you think. Killing a baby is a simple concept to them. It's wrong, no matter what.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:06 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Take your complaints about family planning to the Republican party. Willard Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are adherents to two of the the world's religions that advocate massive reproduction and want to curtail contraception and abortion and subject women to unnecessary procedures in order to shame them.

    I passed by the Planned Parenthood clinic on Precissi Lane in Stockton yesterday and there were protestors with placards with anti-abortion messages. Shockingly, there were many school-age children present (appeared to be about 6-7 years old) who should have been at school. Instead, their parents thought it prudent to take them to this "protest." I'm sure they had no idea why they were there.

     
  • Sarah Elizabeth Tygert posted at 9:06 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Sarah Tygert Posts: 53

    Correction:
    * some companies...

    Naturally, all-inclusive statements are "never" true. Not everyone does it.

     
  • Sarah Elizabeth Tygert posted at 9:05 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Sarah Tygert Posts: 53

    Do you really believe, as your title suggests, that the lacking resources is caused by overpopulation??

    That's hard to fathom. This planet has plenty of enough resources, plenty of unfarmed and uninhabited land spaces. What exactly leads you to believe that it is the 1 billion more mouths to feed?

    It's a strange notion when you really look into how much resources we waste. It's sickening when you really look into it. Even water- some countries just find it beyond comprehension that we actually use drinkable water in our toilets. And water bottles? Do we really need to sell and market how many different "brands" of water? Or carbonate drinkable water into soda products?

    Sadly this extends far more further than water, and it isn't an overpopulation issue, it's a massive waste and business-money-making issue. Did you know that companies when they have a surplus in their fields will burn their crops rather than giving the food away to starving countries?

    What needs to be done is to discuss solutions, and unfortunately even I am at fault, I know very few Americans who really live recycling. We're terribly wasteful, especially with water. It needs to start with proper education of what our lives are going to become if we don't start smartly using what we have.

     
  • Andrew Liebich posted at 7:16 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    George Bush Sr. owns land (70 thousand hectares or 173,000 acres) in the Chaco region of Paraguay, in Paso de Patria and the land sits on top of the worlds largest underground water aquifer.

    Coincidence? I think not.

     

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