Help, I Want To Get Off!
By John de Waal, MBA.
I imagine that few will disagree with the fact that our Earth is not getting larger, but that the world’s population is! There might be some who believe that arable lands (lands upon which people raise crops for their own consumption or to sell it to others) are growing apace with population growth, after all, there are continuous efforts being made to convert non arable land to arable land and some are successful. But droughts, deforestation, desertification and human-induced erosion turn as much or more arable land into infertile places.
According to Wikipedia, in 2012, the world’s arable land was close to 14,000,000 square kilometers and it had been thus since 2008. Based on that, one might conclude that the amount of arable land is stable, but an article by Oliver Milman, (December 2, 2015), based on findings of the University of Sheffield, indicates that, over the last 40 years, Earth has lost one third of its arable land, due to erosion, pollution and other developments.
Then, arable land per person is not the same from country to country: For example: while Uruguay has .682 hectares/person, the United States .480/person, Serbia .460, Romania .438 and Niger .866, Oman has just .010 and the Seychelles .001!. Every other country is somewhere in between with most on the low side. To feed everyone requires a great deal of trading, traffic and pollution.
Moreover, about 70% of the world’s arable lands are used to grow crops; the other 30% is used for livestock, including chicken, cattle and pigs, because that is what the better-off like and thus more profitable.
One solution to all this is rotation, i.e. having land taken out of production to help it recover, but this requires governmental intervention, including compensation for the growers forced to have their lands be fallow. Besides, rotation reduces our capability of raising food for a population that is growing at a rate of 211,000 people per day or 77 million per year (2006), according to ‘Environment’, a piece on the Internet that pulls together facts from a wide variety of sources published elsewhere.
The inevitable conclusion is that we cannot sustain the human population as it is and this is resulting in the starvation, poverty, disease, crime, war, economic instability, pain and misery we see today. This will only get worse unless we stop human growth.
One possible way to slow or reverse population growth in our country (USA): is through taxation. The first child in a legitimate family now reduces income tax by $4,050, but the second child should not provide this tax break and the third child should increase income taxes by $4,050 and so on. Abortion services should be made legal everywhere and easily available, and birth control devices should be made available for free in every pharmacy if they care to keep their business license. Other countries may follow our lead.