“We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half fortunate, half miserable, half confident, half despairing, half slave—to the ancient enemies of man—half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all.” Adlai Stevenson
In our journey, mankind has not heeded these wise words. Mankind has arrived to a fork in the road that requires we change course within ten years in order to save ourselves before it is too late (4,
In Cairo in 1994, the United Nations unanimously agreed that overpopulation is the most serious threat civilization has faced (1). Many nations did not follow the UN resolutions so human and environmental threats have now escalated to the point that the planet's ability to sustain life has surpassed sustainable levels (2)*
We are appealing to you as a member of the present generation of concerned citizens, because we believe you care. The most urgent solution is to promote education regarding: family planning, health, the economy, renewable energy, empowerment for women and environmental conservation(2a) This will have enormous positive implications for humanity and for the natural environment on which life depends. The threat to our very existence is not terrorism, war, viruses( Ebola), drugs but dwindling natural resources and pollution due to growing human needs (3).
Overpopulation is at the root of unemployment, hunger, crime, drugs, family disintegration, terrorism and war. Experts predict that at this rate, the Earth will become
uninhabitable in 100 years unless we urgently join forces to address this situation (4,
Long ago, in towns and farms across the lands, manual labor was plentiful, requiring families to have many children to help with work. Men provided while women stayed at home to nurture their children, the elders and the sick. There was time to spend with the family, where emotional needs were met. In those days, love and respect ruled, so crime, psychological disorders and drugs were rare. The needy could rely on the assistance of neighbors, because there was a strong sense of compassion and community.
With the advent of the industrial revolution, many jobs were lost to machinery, so competition for employment became commonplace. Goods that in the past only the wealthy could afford were made accessible to many because of mechanization and plentiful natural resources brought their prices down. Businesses preached "BUY, BUY, BUY!" to all, giving birth to an era of consumerism and competition to “keep up with the Joneses.” This lifestyle prompted women to join the work force in order to make ends meet. Our new world has grown competitive and cold, a place where the survival of the fittest rules and charity and altruism have waned. For example, in many cities it is illegal to give food and shelter to the homeless and poor (6 ,7 ).
The symptoms of overpopulation must first be understood to be remedied. Today, spouses often come home after work emotionally and physically drained, so arguments erupt more frequently; they do not have much time for themselves or their family. Fewer people marry now, and the divorce rate has greatly increased over the last 50 years. Belarus, for example, reported a 50% divorce rate in 2012 (8). Infanticide is the number one cause of children’s violent death in the USA (9,10). India has a rising suicide rate due to a lack of subsistence and jobs (11).
The pressures caused by unemployment leads many to turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. In contrast, Japan, which had one of the highest suicide rates in the world, has shown a rising employment rate since 2011. Due to a recently shrinking population, its suicide rate has dropped, reflecting less competition for jobs
(12). China, with its one-child-per-family policy, went from a nation where famine decimated millions, to become the second richest nation in the world (13). Nevertheless, this one-child policy has created a generation of selfish, materialistic individuals who lack the sense of community that a two-child family provides (14).
A proper balance between natural resources and population size is conducive to promoting prosperity, educational and employment opportunities. Jobs are at the core of what gives humans their sense of purpose, dignity and worth; they are the basis of economic and social stability. Failing economies, on the other hand, are breeding grounds of terrorism, racism and ecological decimation.
In our consumerist world, people often have little time to spare for others, so it is easier to give material objects than one’s time. As a result, new generations see success and rewards in material terms. It is no surprise that materialism is replacing the human touch, but materialism is not fulfilling our emotional needs. Children and spouses craving human affection and not finding it at home often seek it elsewhere. This explains why teenage pregnancy has reached an unprecedented 16 million births per year worldwide
(15), while in the U.S.A., 40% of new mothers are unmarried
(16). Now, our stressed-out society portray sex as fashionable.
Sex is experienced by many in search of love and affection to release stress. This phenomenon was most apparent after World War II, resulting in the “Baby Boom.” Thus, the notion that wars keep populations in check is erroneous. In 1800, the world’s population was 1.3 billion and the population of the U.S.A. was 5 million. In 2015, the world's population is 7.3 billion and the U.S.A.’s population 320 million. (17)
Wars, catastrophes, disease and natural mortality, however, have not curbed population growth. In poor nations, families have more children than they can sustain in order to assure a few survive. (18). Worldwide, about 370 million indigenous plus 2.6 billion poor people live without electricity, running water, machinery etc (19,20), while many hundreds of millions have no access to safe sources of drinking water. (21). If these masses were to access the modern standard of living developed nations enjoy, it would take about 5 planets to sustain us all.
(22). There are still tribes who have no contact with civilization, who are joyful and thriving. They don't experience the problems our "civilization" is suffering from. They enjoy life, because they have a strong sense of community and respect for nature, proving that money, our type of civilization and materialism are not the answer for everyone (22a)
The industrial and high-tech revolutions have increasingly replaced humans with machinery, computers and robots. As never before, this is forcing millions into permanent unemployment and creating a wider gap between the rich and the poor. Laws must be implemented that give preference to humans over equipment; not doing so will end in escalating hunger, fueling rage, revolts, police brutality, racism and terrorism.
History teaches us that hungry hordes ended the Roman, French and Russian empires. Today the biggest time-bomb due to human overpopulation is the threat of food shortages, which will spark similar events (23). Poverty and dwindling natural resources are causing many to debase themselves in order to subsist. Thus crime grows and countries turn to war for supplies. A 2015 report shows that over one-third of the world's children die annually from malnutrition (24). In the U.S.A., one out of every six children goes to bed hungry every night, as do some 872 million people worldwide (25, 26).
In order to subsist, many farmers are over-tilling and overgrazing their land, causing erosion and desertification. Other lands are being claimed for housing, mining, logging, farming and aqua pools (for fish stock), driving wildlife and plant varieties to extinction (27) and forcing mass human migrations as never before (28).
Experts calculate that the planet can sustain up to 6.2 billion people. We have surpassed this number, as the 2% human die-off over the last 15 years confirms
(29,29a). In spite of this, populations continue to grow unless we address these problems, for this will further exacerbate matters. It is because of this, that we must address these problems because time is of the essence.
The UN reports that since the 1990s, around 50% of those who were living on less than $1 per day have risen above the poverty line thanks to efforts toward more equal distribution of wealth and education promoted by the UN, many governments and NGOs. Paradoxically, due to exponential population growth, the actual number of poor people has not decreased. The World Bank explains this phenomenon: “Although the population growth rate for developing countries has been decreasing for several decades, the number of people added to the population each year has been increasing because the population base has become larger” (30). This improvement has extended to the middle class, fueling consumerism, thus accelerating environmental damage, not giving nature the time to replenish resources
(31). This wealth is reflected in a growing taste for processed and animal based food consumption. To satisfy demand for animal products, animal husbandry uses 40% of the world’s land and 60% of the grain to feed livestock; agribusiness now uses 70% of the available fresh water
(32) . The poor are marginalized by agribusiness, because it is more profitable to feed livestock than to feed the poor. Agribusiness is causing 50% of global warming (33).
According to the World Health Organization, animal diet based on: animal flesh, fish and other seafood, eggs and milk accounts for 63% of deaths in the developed world
(34). In 90% of cases: cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, type two diabetes, autoimmune disease and Alzheimer’s are directly attributable to animal products and processed foods.
Human evolution shows that we are predominately plant based eaters. (34a, 34a1 ) and human biochemistry has not yet evolved to adapt to an animal based diet explaining the high levels of our morbidity and mortality (34b, 34c ) Proof of this lag in evolutionary change is that when patients suffering from dietary causes of cardiovascular disease, stop eating animal products, (including milk, fish, eggs) and processed foods they reverse their disease and heal. (34d, 34e, 34f ) These diet related ailments are causing enormous impact on healthcare costs and productivity.
For example, in 2104, the USA’s private and governmental expenses for health care were five times more than on its military expense (35,35a,35b, 35c). The solution is simple: change the menu to grains, fruit, legumes, tubers and vegetables (36,37) and by so doing, the healing impact in one's health will be evidenced within two to three years.
Our increasing population is exacerbating pollution, poisoning the fields, atmosphere and water, destroying the very essence of life. This is causing global warming, which is exacerbating floods, droughts, mudslides, forest fires and storms, etc., creating deserts, thawing glaciers, raising sea levels and decimating fresh-water supplies at a pace and to an extent that may have irreparable consequences.
We have the know-how and the funds, so now we must exert our will to face these threats. The solutions require worldwide cooperation or the efforts of the few will be futile. We must empower women with education, knowledge of family planning and access to contraceptive methods, in keeping with moral and individual religious precepts, so that they don't seek abortions (37a,38); it is still possible to reach a sustainable future if all new families have no more than one or maximum two children (38a).
Consumerism and poor banking regulations have been bankrupting people, corporations and nations (Greece and Iceland are cases in point) (39) Equitable income, value-added taxes, fair banking regulations and barring corporations to have person status are needed to stem economic collapse and produce positive impacts in wealth distribution and spending practices (40, 41). We must end subsidies for new families who are expecting a third child and for toxic sources of energy. We must encourage and clean, renewable power. We must learn to become good stewards of the land, which will require assessing products by taking into account the real cost of producing and extracting them from our environment in terms of the impact of the environmental damage and health complications that they entail. Above all, we must learn to live conservatively, since a rampantly materialistic lifestyle has proven to be unsustainable.
Today, we would have enough food to feed all mankind if we diverted the food used in raising animals to feeding humans instead (42). Changing our diet will improve our health and free up funds for universal healthcare, restore the ecosystem, for research into retrofitting and creating efficient technology, and to eradicate illiteracy. Doing so, will give us time to take humanity to a path of sustainability and hope.
By providing jobs to our fellow men instead of equipment, we can improve human conditions and restore human dignity. By shifting the paradigm, we will have a chance to regain a sense of community and harmony. By promoting peace, military funds will be freed for the betterment of all (43,44)
Now we see why we have only ten years to change our course in order to save ourselves and what to do to achieve this.When gazing at the infinite universe we now know that earth is the only place that can give us sustenance. The seas of adversity have taken our fragile craft to a place where we realize that only together we can save the greatest treasure of all - life itself. We learn that by joining forces as a world family, we can pass the torch of life to new generations. This path will require we leave selfishness, politics and greed behind. By changing our ways and respecting all that is in God’s creation, future generations will inherit a world where the song of wild birds and perfume of forest flowers give joy to their hearts, a place they can call HOME (45).A place where they will all live with dignity and peace.
* The World Bank defines moderate poverty as living on $1 to $2 US a day.
** The World Commission on Environment definition of sustainability: A sustainable society is one that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs