With a worldpopulation that has risen so fast the last century to now approximately 6.7 billion people, one might easily hold that accountable for many of the world problems. And indeed a lot of bad things like environmentol pollution, exhausting of natural resources, shortage of clean water etcetera are related to the growing numbers of people on this earth.
However, this is not the only cause. The most polluting parts of the world and also the users of most of the energy and resources, are the developed countries. And these countries are also the parts of the world where the growth of the population is slowing, because birth control has become a normal issue and most families are small compared to those in the less developed countries.
Ironically, in the developed countries, where the personal wealth has grown so much, the consumption that goes with that is lying a more heavily strain upon natural resources and the environment than the less developed countries do, even though the latter have a more rapidly growing population, since birth control is not yet common there.
If the less developed countries will become richer in the future, what probably will happen- see China, India , Brasil, etcetera - is is likely that the grow of there population will also slow down, as has happened in the developed countries, because of a better availibility of birth control, better education and emancipation of women. However, if the consumption in those countries will rise because they are then more wealthy, it is very well possible that their impact on the environment will go up instead of down, despite the lessened growth of their population.
So how effective is birth control? Lesser people could mean lesser consumption and less impact on the environment, but only if the people that remain do not increase their consumpton to such a height, that the effect is neutralized. And people tend to do just that, whenever the circumstances make it possible.
But there is another relation between population numbers and consumption in developed countries, and that is that more people are nessecary to fulfill all the desired services of the average citizen. In less developed countries, most people are farmers, who supply food for the population. In the developed countries only a few procent of the population is farming; the rest of the people is making modern live possible by supplying all the services which we have access to: industry workers for all the goods that we buy, people who work for the governments services, like police, social workers, fireman, tax investigators etc, people that build our houses, people who work in the shops, the hotels, the restaurants, people who work as physicians, dentists and therapists, people who make television programs and movies, people who sell houses and cars, bankers, notaries, advocates and so on.
Although automatisation has relieved us from much of the heavier work, this has been compensated by the creation of new services, which the increased wealth has made possible. The question is, would a decreasing population not mean that there would be too few people left to do all the work? If so, that would mean that certain services could not be cared for anymore.
I think this is worth considering, when we look at the possibility of a less growing or even decreasing world population. We then have to look what we consider as essential in our lives, and what we don't need. And if we decide that we do need all the things we have, we might also need enough people to supply us with that. In which case we need to find other ways to lessen the impact that our numbers have on the environment.
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