Stephen Hawking theorizes that
the greatest threats to our species
are overpopulation, air pollution, and
artificial intelligence, because “once
machines reach the critical stage of
being able to evolve themselves, we
cannot predict whether their goals will
be the same as ours.” Source
As the global population soars toward nine billion by 2045, this corner of Africa shows what’s at stake in the decades ahead. The Rift is rich in rainfall, deep lakes, volcanic soil, and biodiversity. It is also one of the most densely populated places on Earth. A desperate competition for land and resources—and between people and wildlife—has erupted here with unspeakable violence. How can the conflict be stopped? Will there be any room left for the wild? […]
[Top] From above, the scene is pastoral—a lush blanket of fields in the highlands of northwest Rwanda. The ground truth is grittier. Land is so scarce in the crowded countryside near Musanze that farmers struggle to cultivate every foot of the steep, eroding hillsides. Land pressures set the stage for the 1994 genocide, in which one million were killed.
[Bottom] In a region bursting with people, a few big open spaces remain—like the Rift floor in Queen Elizabeth Park, pocked with crater lakes formed by volcanic explosions. If protected areas hadn’t been set aside in the Albertine Rift from the 1920s to the 1960s, conservationists doubt any large wilderness areas would exist today.
A new report from the World Wildlife Fund says we’re gobbling up the planet’s resources at such an alarming rate that by 2030, even a second Earth wouldn’t be enough to sustain us
Which resources are we depleting? Renewables like fish, water, timber, and food are being used up much faster than previously thought. According to experts, mankind’s “ecological footprint” is now over 50 percent higher than it was in 2008, meaning it takes 1.5 years for Earth to regenerate the natural resources we use up annually.
Why is our ecological footprint growing? The world’s population, which according to the U.N. surpassed 7 billion last October, is getting too big, and the average individual is using more than he or she needs. “The excessive demands that we are putting on the planet will inevitably lead to acute water shortages, a chronic food crisis, and rising prices for energy, metals, and minerals,” says Robert Walker at the Huffington Post.
On being childfree and why it shouldn’t be seen as unusual
I recently committed to being childfree for life, and what still bothers me is how this decision is perceived and how family members respond when I tell them I’m “never having kids”.
Not having kids is a deviation from the expected normal script for how to live a life, the significant events we naturally expect of someone. This life script of our culture is so reinforced and ubiquitous it’s impossible to escape; it is everywhere.
Many feel pressured to fill that script because our culture fails to provide realistic and normalised representation of any alternative life paths. Bringing a new human into the world is seen as a default expectation of maturing. The birth of a child or the announcement of a pregnancy is of course (most of the time) a happy event, and while it is of course seen as an extremely significant life step, it’s also seen as part of the script; it is something that people simply just do.
The implications of this are something I think deserve serious consideration.
Children constitute a massive life decision that is pushed on young people (especially women) far too strongly. It’s a huge responsibility. Having a child means 18 or more years of your life will be spent caring for someone who you are legally responsible for the wellbeing and behaviour of at all times. It means your life’s ambitions will become secondary, and often forgotten altogether, in favour of simply providing your child’s needs and being with them (almost round the clock for the first five years or more) to give them responsible guidance. It entails a huge shift in how much leisure time you will have, will most likely cause massive financial stress, and any life paths outside of parenthood will become off limits to you, permanently and irreversibly.
This is a responsibility very few people are prepared to take on, and I wish that our culture instilled in young people more realistic expectations. “You do not have to have kids if you don’t want to” is a good message, but I feel we also need to be telling people “Don’t decide to have kids without giving serious consideration as to what your plans and goals are in life.”
anyway a good rule of thumb is that if you hear anyone talking about “overpopulation” you can all but guarantee that not only are they an obvious racist but also they will sooner or later be advocating genocide or eugenics or both
Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) is a new photo book that aims to highlight humanity’s ballooning numbers and consumption, which is having a disastrous effect on our planet. Featuring images shot by a wide array of photographers, the book paints a powerful and evocative picture of the ecological and social tragedies we’ve inflicted upon both Earth and ourselves.
Seriously though, people say that those who don’t want children are ‘selfish’.
But I think the privileged people with access to birth control and good education who insist on breeding because they want a mini version of themselves, rather than adopting one of the thousands of homeless children, are the most selfish people ever.