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The Earth Cannot Support Six Billion People
The United Nations Population Division estimates that the human population will number six billion on October 12th, 2000. For those of us born approximately a quarter-century ago, that colossal number is two billion more than the four billion that inhabited the Earth when we entered it. Moreover, it represents a doubling of the population in less than forty years.
Most of us, however, have little grounding for such mind-boggling numbers. Most of us literally cannot conceptualize numbers of this magnitude, when it’s a struggle in itself to keep track of the number of digits. Most of us in our everyday lives have no need to conceive of such vast amounts of anything.
Yet there are good reasons to attempt to do so. Meteorologists have warned us that pollution linked to the tremendous and growing resource use of the immense and expanding human population will lead to a greater frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as a rise in global temperature; the last decade would seem to su…
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…it is not an infrequent occurrence to see a student throwing away platefuls of food.
We can do better. As Meadows et al. proclaim in “Beyond the Limits”, the state of the world is not a prediction of doom, but a challenge. It’s a challenge to navigate this world through the next century without social collapse. I would add that the present situation also represents an opportunity: an opportunity to make our lives more meaningful by foregoing certain indulgences and leading rich lives in the pursuit of higher, more ethical goals.