Here, I am going to attempt to address a very sensitive topic that is paramount to our sustained access to resources. Overpopulation. As a disclaimer, I do not have a problem with big families, or the desire to raise children. In fact, I am the third child of four, I have one beautiful niece, and another on the way. This post, is not an attack, rather I am simply trying to provoke thought into a deeply problematic situation that our generation and the next generations must face to create a sustainable future. Furthermore, I find the following statistics terribly bothersome and I am motivated to address these issues. It is my hope that in your reading this post, you too will feel motivated to act.
“Various estimates indicate that, based on business as usual, ~3.5 Earth planets would be needed to sustain a global population achieving the current lifestyle of the average European or North American.” – 2013 Water Day Campaign by UN Water [UNESCO: Facts and Data Sheet]
The world has surpassed a population of 7 billion human beings. Today, March 19, 2017 the world population clock is rapidly approaching 7.5 billion.
- 7.5 billion mouths and brains to feed. The FAO estimates that 790 million people suffer from malnutrition .
- 7.5 billion bodies with sanitation and shelter needs . The UN reports that 783 million people do not have access to clean water and less than 67% of the world population has access to proper sanitation .
- 7.5 billion people contributing to the global waste problems. Everyday approximately 2 million tons of human waste is dumped into freshwater .
Overpopulation is the threshold at which a species surpasses the capacity of an environment to sustain the population. Ecological, resource thresholds naturally control for overpopulation through disease and resource restriction, hence protecting the environment and allowing sustained existence. However, humans have manipulated the natural controls through modern medicine pushing the population well beyond the comfortably sustainable threshold. The result? Overpopulation is a fundamental stressor in every environmental issue humanity currently faces.
Despite, an ever growing magnitude of issues, population projections still indicate a 2–3 billion increase over the next 4 decades [UNESCO: Facts and Data Sheet].
Now that I have highlighted the severity of the “overpopulation” problem, I am going to focus the remainder of my post on the adolescent percentage of the global population and more specifically the orphaned percentage. Orphaned here is defined by the absence of a parental figure through means of death or abandonment.
The Statistics (Please be aware these statistics are highly disturbing):
- UNICEF has reported that an estimated 140 million children in the world are orphaned .
- At roughly 1/3 of the worlds population, children make up about half of extreme poverty in the world . In 2015, children represented half of the 19.5 million refugees in the world .
- Nearly, 11% of the worlds children are forced to labor . And still more tragic, 124 million children are without an education ; and, of those children that can attend school, roughly 66 million attend classes hungry .
- On the order of 14.3% of children in the world are visibly underweight  and malnutrition accounts for nearly half of deaths in children under the age of 5 years old .
Some of The Opposition!
Check out: The Borgen Project
The Borgen Project, is an advocacy group for the impoverished peoples of the world. Started in 2003 by Clint Borgen, the project has helped promote and protect policies that impact global health and sanitation. The organization works directly with US Leaders to address the “global poverty crisis” and posts articles loaded with information regarding issues like hunger, education, and orphaned children. One of their more recent posts featured the Mwelu Foundation.
Check out: Mwelu Foundation
Started in 2007, the foundation focuses on children living in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The efforts help the children realize their talent, and direct their energy into creative outlets like photography. The foundation has found great success with many students moving on to hold successful careers in photography and film. Check out their website to see the documentaries, success stories, and current projects!
Check out: The Save the Children Fund
Some organizations have been fighting the problem for much longer. Based in the UK, Save the Children was formed in 1919 and has been dedicated to the international protection of children rights ever since. The project drafted the initial “Rights of the Child” in 1924 which were adapted and made international law only 27 years ago:
- The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
- The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succoured.
- The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
- The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
- The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.
” Drafted by Eglantyne Jebb
As such an influential organization, the Save the Children Fund helped more than 17.5 million children in the year 2015 alone. As an incredible display of human goodness, this group continues to push for the rights of children in the world holding global leaders to accountability.
Beyond the three I mentioned above, there are hundreds of other organizations in the fight to eradicate poverty and child homelessness. Without supporters and activists these organizations could not have the impact they have made. So I urge you to take action and provoke discusion about overpopulation and the modern family dynamic!
It is time for society to reframe the family vision, heredity does not determine a family. In this post, I am not asking anyone to give up their hopes for a big family. In fact, I am saying the opposite. There are literally, millions of children that would benefit from the love and structure of a family. And if you are not ready or do not wish to adopt, there are plenty of ways to act!
SUPPORT and PARTICIPATE. Efforts of organizations like the Borgen Project and Save the Children have many events to raise awareness you can join. The best offense against the threats of overpopulation and the protection of future children lies in education. Support and participate in the spread of sex education and family planning. Help fund the distribution of birth control mechanisms. AND. If you don’t have time, but you do have money, a simple way to support global awareness and environmental consciousness is through donations. Instead of buying material gifts, give your friends and family donation receipts from any of the hundreds of children advocacy and environmental organizations.
Delicate or not, overpopulation and the vagrant children of the world are not issues we can ignore any longer. And finally, support the education of resource consumption and recycling. In an age with so many humans we cannot afford to throw anything in the trash; everything should be treated like a resource. Now is the time to make a difference!