Letter to the Editor: More people leads to fewer resources

The human animal, Homo sapiens, is destroying planet Earth, and the future implications of this process are dire. Not only are we consuming nonrenewable natural resources increasingly rapidly, but we are discharging toxic solids, liquids and gases to an increasingly polluted environment.
Add to this the fact that the world’s human population increases by another United States population every four years. That’s correct: we add another U.S.A. to the world’s population every four years, and so this population increase is really the cause of the resource depletion and pollution increase. Everyone is aware of global warming but few people point to population increase as the main cause of this warming. More people using more oil per capita makes more carbon dioxide per capita, which is the main cause of our warming planet and rising seas.
Annual global oil consumption is rapidly increasing. Studies suggest that current trends will lead to near depletion in 80-120 years. Many nations cannot afford to purchase oil/gas today; few, if any, nations will be able to afford it in a hundred years. Some oil/gas reserves will always be available. Renewable energy will be increasingly utilized, but electricity production will rely on coal, oil and gas for the foreseeable future.
Eventually, decreasing amounts of oil will produce social disorganization: insufficient jobs, food, water, housing, health care, etc. Contracting economies and decreasing GNPs will lead to deprivation, frustration and friction. Desperate, homeless, hungry hordes will tend to join terrorist groups or emigrate, and we shall see international immigration increase as hundreds of millions of refugees try to enter the European Union, England, the U.S. or other nations.
The most important role of oil is feeding our current population of 7.5 billion. Demographers estimate a global population of about 11 billion-12 billion people in 70 years. That number would be too many for the earth to support. Just as past population growth followed food-production growth, which followed oil/gas production growth, so future population decreases will follow food-production decreases, which will follow oil decreases. As cheap oil disappears, starvation will soar.
Is the foregoing scenario realistic? If present trends and factual data are to be believed, the answer is yes.
The press regales us daily about the “important” news of politics, economics, health, poverty, immigration, wars and other symptoms of overpopulation, but there are few articles relating current trends to the future planet. Our educational institutions cover the history of everything, but rarely do they discuss the world in which our descendants will live. We still believe the economists who suggest that unending “growth” will solve our problems, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Nothing can grow forever, including our economy.
The United Nations should be discussing the future big issues facing our children’s world. So should Vermonters and all Americans, but from reading articles and “letters” in papers and watching the superficial news coverage on the TV, I get the idea that few Americans are thinking about the future. Similarly, most college graduates receive little teaching regarding the future. This is sad, because, after all, shouldn’t the education of young people be about the world in which they will live?
In summary, the largest problem facing planet earth is too many people, producing many symptoms which we misname problems. There is only one solution, and it is obvious, and no politicians and few professors mention it: global education of birth control and universal acceptance of a mandatory one-child families in every nation. The Chinese aren’t dumb. They recognized that they were in crisis, and they’ve been working on it since 1979. Now it’s our turn.
As long as earthlings strive to lower death rates and ignore birth rates, we shall continue to move toward an era of uncontrolled high death rates by massive starvation. Mother Nature will solve the problem if humans don’t; she always does.
David Van Vleck

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