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Categories: - Students' Voice for Sustainability

Population and Sustainability

Opinion Piece by Youth on Issues of Sustainability
Concept, Idea and Content: Jagruti Panchal, Blog Team – TOHRI
Edited by: Vidusshi Pathak, Intern, TOHRI



10 billion. That is the number of people which our earth can sustain at a given time. We are already beyond 7.6 billion as per official records and these records are well below the immediate actual numbers. Our resources can only bear exploitation to a certain limit.

Population growth is a more sensitive issue than it appears to be. It is equally battered with controversies and questions of morality, ethics, and rights; as are the other integral debates in our society. It is not just limited to one community but wraps the whole world in the unfolding of the inadvertent consequences due to population explosion. The earth’s population increase has been exponential if nothing more and the measures taken for balancing the same haven’t been satisfactory.
We always fret about how there is no end to the problems the world is facing in today’s time. Global warming, every type of environmental pollution, climate change, deforestation, famine; there is so much natural imbalance due to our own actions, that the situation seems beyond our grasp now. We have tempered with Nature to such an extent that the damage is now almost irreparable. What more does one need in order to realise the gravity of the situation than the fact that over half of our forests have vanished due to human exploits? They are not ‘our’ forests to begin with; since nature has always been about co-existence.

Most of the issues pertaining today (I say most and not all out of discretion) that are affecting our society as a whole can either directly or indirectly be connected to the enormous population growth. It is estimated that by the end of this century we would be well over 11billion. That might be the time we witness the extinction of our resources as well as ourselves. But that can easily be prevented if proper measures are taken on a mutual basis from now onwards.

844 million, that is one out of every ten people, do not have access to clean water. About 800 million people (one out of every nine) do not have proper food intake. It isn’t because there is a shortage of the same, since every year 10 to 20 percent of the total crop production in India is lost in storage either due to pests or ignorant handling. The wastage is to a high extent and instead can be used for fulfilling the food requirements of the underprivileged in our country. The problem lies in the lack of planning for managing such a huge population. Our country, in fact our world, is discovering new techniques and hustling to find new ways to lessen the chaos and systematize consumerism and the intake of resources in such a way that basic benefits are achieved by one and all. But of course, it isn’t going to pay off until and unless we as a human society have a mutual responsibility towards this cause.

Population growth is far more ahead than the solutions we are bringing in to sustain the growing numbers. The need of the hour is to limit this problem from the very core itself, i.e., to encourage smaller families and the concept of adoption. So, this pertains to a perspective of- “Small is beautiful”. The larger requirement is to provide a crystal clear and deeper understanding of this perspective so as to make people realize that this situation is soon going to turn into something hard to handle. This can only be achieved in the future generations by providing them proper education regarding the topic of population growth and the ethical ways to curb it. Many in our society argue that subjecting children (and young adolescents) to this kind of information is not ethical in itself, but their argument is not based on any solid reasoning. I don’t see how informing our young successors about the legacy (or damages) we are leaving behind for them to deal with, is in any way corrupting their minds. Only when the ways they can deal with it in the future are inculcated in their minds from an early start would there be a possibility for them to shape their actions collectively for the betterment of this society.

Adoption not only helps in overcoming the population problem; it is also about taking the responsibility of a child and filling their lives with happiness. In the end there would be a lot more love in this world if children are provided with a home and a family. Many people constrain themselves from adopting because of the conservative thinking that has been imprinted in our brains long ago, but it is high time to abolish this mindset and change the world by doing our bit.

The natural resources, which aren’t just ours to soak up, should be preserved and sustainably utilized by the masses until a balanced and controlled population is acquired. Only by cutting out on our unnecessary expenditures can we actually save something for our future generations to cherish on this planet, be it the trees we are butchering so irrationally, the water reservoirs we are draining relentlessly or the very air we breathe that we have shamelessly contaminated with toxic fumes.
It is never easy to keep in mind the future consequences and lives while striving for our own selves. But drastic situations demand for drastic measures. To prevent anything as such to arise, it is necessary that we keep our actions in check because this planet isn’t ours to claim, no contradictions whatsoever. True, it is helping us grow and we are a part of it. We have to respect Mother Nature if the idea is to sustain humans further in future.

For a start, let’s try by curbing our inner fundamental hunger for everything and think about the bigger picture for once. As Mahatma Gandhi said- “There is enough on Earth for everybody's need, but not enough for everybody's greed.”



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