Mark is back on the blog this week. Fiona did a great job last week with her account of picking up garbage from the Willamette River, thanks Fiona!
One part of my job involves mapping things out on Google maps. Like most people, I prefer the hybrid map that shows street names across satellite images. One thing I keep noticing is how developed everything is, and how new developments keep popping up. It makes me wonder; where are all of the animals hanging out? Well they aren’t. The animals are being chased out of their neighborhoods by new developments, mainly because people don’t want deer in their yard, they don’t want coyotes near their cats, they don’t want raccoons in their garbage, they don’t want possums running out in front of their cars, they don’t want wolves eating their livestock, they don’t want mountain lions feasting on their dogs, and often times, they don’t want bears mauling their children.
Who’s to blame for the animals habitat disappearing? Is it the animals, because they tend to behave like animals? Or is it people, of which there are just too many? The human population grew more in the last 40 years than the last 3 million. It is projected that by the end of October, the global human population will eclipse 7 billion, and lately, humans are living large.
Quality of life is improving for people all over the planet, which is a good thing, but we are growing short of room for new roads, housing developments, power plants, and the massive amount of land space needed to produce agricultural goods to feed 7+ billion.
So now you must be thinking, “Mark, what do you think we could do to reverse this trend?” Excellent question! I would think that promoting contraception would be a great start. The countries with the most rapidly increasing populations are also the poorest. Niger has the highest fertility rate with 7.2 births per woman, while having very little contraception available or in use. On the other hand, Brazil has introduced contraception awareness programs and their fertility rate has decreased from 6.2 births per woman in 1960, to 1.9 today. That’s particularly important for the world because Brazil is home to millions of acres of much needed rainforest that might otherwise be destroyed were Brazil to have some explosive population growth. It is also worth noting that China’s controversial one-child policy has been incontrovertibly effective with a fertility rate of 1.6 births per woman.
In addition to lessening the saturation of humanity, the planet would stand to benefit from people living in denser areas. If you took the population density of New York City and applied it to the world’s 7 billion people, you could fit all of us in a space the size of Texas. I’m not saying that we should all cram into Texas, but if we just tried to be a little more urban-centric, we’d still have plenty of room for us, as well leaving trees and animals more space for them to run around and not go extinct.