Anonymous
Anonymous asked in EnvironmentOther - Environment · 1 decade ago

By 2050, Earth's population will be 9 billion. What's the most important change needed to live sustainably?

There was a great focus on population issues in the 1970s and '80s, but we lost the fight to stabilise Earth's population at a more sustainable level, and now we must face the reality that it will be far more difficult to live sustainably in the future.

What we need are solutions that solve several problems at once: e.g. how do we grow enough food sustainably to feed the planet, and solve climate change? How do we save the world's tropical forests, lift the poorest from their poverty and solve climate change?

This will be the century where human ingenuity is stretched to its utmost. What do you think is the single most important factor we need to change in order to sustain a burgeoning population?

Update:

Yahoo! Canada Answers Staff note: This is the real Tim Flannery, climate change activist and author of An Explorer's Notebook (HarperCollins).

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    I believe you are Australian?

    "We" (people of the world) need to educate women in third world nations. It's a well proven fact, the more education a woman has the fewer children that women will have. It's also true those fewer children will themselves be better educated, and better fed, with better health care.

    Educating the women = fewer humans born. That in turn helps with poverty.

    Save the world's tropical forests? Only one way for one country to save the forests of another country....eco-tourism. If the forest suddenly becomes more valuable to a poor country because of the tourist dollars it brings in, than the slash and burn farming does, the forests will be saved. That means getting the tourist dollars to the poorest and neediest of the people in those countries. Not just the wealthy companies the come set up fancy resort hotels.

    Grow enough food....the industrialized nations need to return to traditional farming methods, and not these giant mono farms, and factory raised livestock farms.

    Modern farming is now completely set up to make the middle man wealthy, and keep the farmer a slave to debt he cannot possibly hope to escape. The younger generation is NOT being drawn into farming....it is not a person friendly, nor a family friendly enterprise anymore.

    People need to return to smaller farms, where the livestock, and the crops exsist together, and with the manure of the livestock being used to fertilize the crops, instead of oil based chemicals.

    Smaller farms produce VASTLY more food per acre than the huge mono crop farms.

    To help stop the population growth in the U.S.A., we need to completely revamp the welfare system. The money should be exactly the same if you have one child or seven children. People recieving welfare (except the rare 10% who are simply too handicapped, or too mentally disabled) should work. Nobody should recieve money for nothing. They can pick up litter, mow lawns at public parks, re-roof the houses of elderly people, build wheelchair ramps, plant trees, sweep floors at the court house...whatever, does not matter. No free money. No increase in money if they make the choice of having more children. Once you have one child, it is no longer a mystery or a suprise as to how children are created.

    The U.S. Government needs to STOP subsidizing CROPS. It is proven this does not work, nor help.

    People need to go back to real, and honest family values. If they choose to have children, SPEND TIME WITH THEM. That means until they are 18 years of age. Teach them how to be good stewards of the land, and environment. Teach them how to have a good time without spending time and money at the mall on items they simply do not need.

    There is no "single most" important factor. The two which will make the most significant differences however are the return of traditional farming, and the education of women, especially in third world countries.

    ~Garnet

    Homesteading/Farming over 20 years

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Unfortunatly there is very little that we can do, saving the world is a job to large for humans.

    Stabalising the human population on Earth is complicated by various taboo and religious rules.

    Poor people see children as a pension fund they always have and will continue until they have a better alternative.

    With the state of governance in almost all of the poorest countries, it will be a long time coming.

    Current predictions suggest 9 billion, during my life time, I was born in 1950, some people might suggest there has not been a major war, but there has never been peace on earth.

    There have been countless famine appeals, for starving people in war torn countries mainly in Africa, there have however been a few genuine famines in my life time.

    Is the population self limiting in line with current economic and agricultural practices.

    Trying to convince Japan and some others that they could use an alternative to hardwood plywood in construction, may help to achieve sustainable forestry.

    It also is noticable that as you are an Aussie and I live in Canada two of the wealthiest least populated nations on earth, WASP populations are decreasing with wealth, while poor people continue to breed large families even when they are supported by excellent welfare systems.

    Without exception wealthy countries have ever smaller families, most of them import workers.

    Worrying about the climate is not exclusively a rich country phenomena but it is not a high priority in devoloping countries.

    I fear that climate change is beyond the control of man just how much global warming is caused by volcanoes every year.

    The sad fact is that we still coming out of an ice age these changes in Earth climate take many millenia.

    I fear that in the end Earth will destroy the human race it will certainly control the population in the long run

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The single most important thing is to re-frame the question.

    "What's the single most important thing we can do to contain our burgeoning population so that we can live sustainably?"

    Why, after 40 years, are we still asking the same question, to which we've had the answer the whole time.

    Population itself is the biggest issue. If we don't fix this problem (stop making more people) we won't solve any of the other problems either.

    I'm saying the biggest problem is that we refuse to address the biggest problem.

    As evident by your question, we still can't look this demon in the eye, we still can't call a spade a spade, we still fall back to the fallacy, the fantasy that we can have it both ways. We can't engineer our way out of this. Human ingenuity will not solve it. How can the same mindset that got us into this problem get us out of it? How can we live sustainably with 9 billion people?

    WE CAN'T.

    Educate and empower the poor, especially women. Make birth control and family planning the cornerstone of national policy around the world. Low birth rates in some areas also create big problems.

    A world population of ~two billion and a birth rate of 2.1 = a sustainable future.

    Anything other = exponential ride to oblivion.

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  • 1 decade ago

    China has a one-child policy. This can be instituted by other countries in the world, especially those in the underdeveloped countries which appears to be the main contributors to over-population. The Catholic church and other religions against population control because of their obsolete dogmatic teaching must, at all cost, update their views with the realities of life.

    We don't have the resources and the technology at least for the next decade or so to convert Jupiter or any of the solar planets to a liveable planet to transport half of the population there so I guess another option is a pandemic which will decimate half or 3/4 of the world population? God, forbid!

    I am aware of this apparently cruel and sarcastic answer but let's face it, mankind is a self-destructive creation. We can't save the tropical forests because more and more people would need space to live; we can't solve climate change because more and more people will keep screwing it; we can't lift the poor from poverty because there will always be greedy people plus the poor are the ones who produces more children than they can feed. To grow enough food is to continue experimenting on cloning and genetic mutations of plants and animals, which, in the long run may possibly mutate whoever eats them.

    I guess my point is, there should be a world covenant of limiting birth in every country and island in the world, that buys mankind some time to discover another planet or develop another technology that would solve the problem. Now, if Vatican continues to be stubborn, send them to the moon!

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  • 1 decade ago

    Unfortunately, the earth and sun will answer eventually. The sun is getting hotter. We are not helping with our waste. THe next ice age is overdue and will come if the opposite does not happen first leaving us with vast deserts.

    Human kind also will answer. There is only so much aid to go around. Poor countries will soon not have enough food to support the adult populations, let alone children. One extremely bad year and the rich will eat, the poor will not, and sadly there will be a mass of deaths.

    There are no solutions. We can only minimize the affects. New technologies, cleaner solutions are not a bad thing, they will help (not to the extent you think, but a little is better then none). More people need to take account for their own well being. If you want a large property to live on, grow your own food during the warm months. This reduces packaging waste, creates life breathing plants, and allows you to save money.

    And, from the looks of it, a war or two may be assisting in the destruction of this planet. It only takes one nuclear bomb to ruin the world. You used to be able to count 1-2 armed countries. You can not do that any more. Sad for our children.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    We don't have the resources and the technology at least for the next decade or so to convert Jupiter or any of the solar planets to a liveable planet to transport half of the population there so I guess another option is a pandemic which will decimate half or 3/4 of the world population? God, forbid!

    I am aware of this apparently cruel and sarcastic answer but let's face it, mankind is a self-destructive creation. We can't save the tropical forests because more and more people would need space to live; we can't solve climate change because more and more people will keep screwing it; we can't lift the poor from poverty because there will always be greedy people plus the poor are the ones who produces more children than they can feed. To grow enough food is to continue experimenting on cloning and genetic mutations of plants and animals, which, in the long run may possibly mutate whoever eats them.

    I guess my point is, there should be a world covenant of limiting birth in every country and island in the world, that buys mankind some time to discover another planet or develop another technology that would solve the problem. Now, if Vatican continues to be stubborn, send them to the moon!

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  • 1 decade ago

    The answer is easy. To implement it is probably impossible. Since the early '60's, scientists have known that the exponential population growth will be our downfall. And now, medical researchers are close to being able to extend our lifespans. Obviously, the few attempts to kerb to control the burgeoning population numbers are failing miserably, and the fact that the poorest countries are the very ones that have lost control of reproduction makes it all the more difficult to slow growth.

    To make it even more crucial, farmers are more likely to be enticed into growing crops for bio-fuels, which I personally find morally reprehensible. I have been aware of the growing use of food-for-fuel for more than 20 years, and my disappointment that it has not only endured, but is becoming ever-more practised, is giving me ulcers.

    However, I believe that, if we don't do something about this problem soon, Mother Nature will. Wars over food, and the attendant hoarding of food by the countries that have any, will soon solve the issue by killing off 75% of the Earth's population, and making the survivors become subsistance farmers, using the same low tech, hay-eating equipment that we used before internal combustion engines were invented. Sounds good to me.

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  • 1 decade ago

    There is only one very obvious answer to this. It cannot be done. The one problem that will not be overcome is overpopulation. A quick example is in Air Pollution: If there was only one very horribly polluting car (see Chinese Made) in the world, it would not affect the atmosphere. Millions of cars change our entire ecosystem. Historically, entire valleys, cities, and even whole civilisations have been wiped from the face of the Earth by the insurmountable obstacles caused by allowing too many people to live on a property. IT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL THE EARTH'S MAJOR PROBLEMS. These challenges like Poverty are easily solved. Simply care about the Poor. Education, and Sustainable Farming are the starting points. Unfortunately, GREED underlines all of this. Until Human Beings overcome their self-defeating desire to dominate, control, and overconsume, there will be great suffering. Improvements can be made in Food Production. Properly plant the "eating crops", rather than "cash crops", so we can eat. Eliminate all Closed in Pens, for Livestock and Fish Farms, because of the widespread disease, pollution, and immense resources they consume. The underlying theme is eliminating Food Production as a business venture. As long as it is a way to profit financially, there will be losers. Like before, those losers will die. So be prepared for some shocking times ahead. The casualties from overpopulation will be in the Billions, or even the end of the Human Race. There is hope for many of us to survive. It is up to each one of you, to learn, and implement small improvements everyday to "help, not hurt".

    Be strong, and accept the fact that we are beyond the point of saving everyone.

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  • 1 decade ago

    In the near future, the human species will be forced to move on to the next planet away from the Sun, Mars, also since the temperature will eventually become more acceptable for life there. Scientists by then, will have developed a way to add an oxygen filled or at least acceptable for human atmosphere and water supply for survival on Mars, while the Earth would be scorched by the growing Sun. In the meantime, the population will continue to grow and the population will become more and more violent, with more risk of war and fatal diseases. There is a need for a new serious space program because te Earth isn't our final frontier, the outer space is.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I agree that ingenuity needs to be tasked to a higher level than ever before. I read the other day that the world population in increasing at 80 million per year. Many of these will be in less developed countries.

    Unfortunately humans appear to lack a "self regulating" gene that would prevent us from breeding out of control, ravishing resources for short term benefit etc.

    One of the great threats to the planet now seems to be prosperity in India and China. Both of which are apparently ecological disaster zones. Rising prosperity means better diet, which seems to equate with more meat, and more intensive agricultural production. There will not be enough space on the planet to feed even China and India if they consumed food resources at the level of Canada and the US. Ironicly biotechnology which might offer some releaf is spurned in many parts of the world.

    I thing population growth is the great evil. So what is the solution? Perhaps raising prosperity just enough so productivity rises, but not so much that demand on the environment increases. Intensive energy consumption must stop, with a real regard to reducing green house gases. Tell that to China. So closing the loop, think of the green house gases, and polution you encourage when you buy that cheap, posibly toxic, throw away quality toy, BBQ, flashlight, clothing etc from China.

    Source(s): I like Thomas Homer Dixon's books on this subject.
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  • 5 years ago

    . The one problem that will not be overcome is overpopulation. A quick example is in Air Pollution: If there was only one very horribly polluting car (see Chinese Made) in the world, it would not affect the atmosphere. Millions of cars change our entire ecosystem. Historically, entire valleys, cities, and even whole civilisations have been wiped from the face of the Earth by the insurmountable obstacles caused by allowing too many people to live on a property. IT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL THE EARTH'S MAJOR PROBLEMS. These challenges like Poverty are easily solved. Simply care about the Poor. Education, and Sustainable Farming are the starting points. Unfortunately, GREED underlines all of this. Until Human Beings overcome their self-defeating desire to dominate, control, and overconsume, there will be great suffering. Improvements can be made in Food Production. Properly plant the "eating crops", rather than "cash crops", so we can eat. Eliminate all Closed in Pens, for Livestock and Fish Farms, because of the widespread disease, pollution, and immense resources they consume. The underlying theme is eliminating Food

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