I heard a Christian on the radio the other day going on about how it was right and proper that we all should be having lots of children. I sat there in amazement, wondering how a person like this could justify this position in the face of the current global situation. The population of the world is now approaching 9 billion people. Our food reserves are down to record lows: In 2007 the carryover stocks were down to a 61 day supply, the lowest on record. As a result food prices have skyrocketed and there are more poor people than ever. Ever increasing populations are consuming ever increasing amounts of fossil fuels, resulting in global warming. This world of ours is being pushed to a breaking point.
Decades ago agricultural scientists came up with a “Green Revolution” involving monocultures, fertilizers and industrial type farming. This increased yields alright, giving many the impression that the crisis was over. What actually happened is that we ended up driving water tables down, pushing water resources to all time lows and leaving many rivers and bodies of water polluted with chemical runoff. Monoculture crops took everything out of the soil and put nothing back in, leaving soils depleted and eventually driving crop yields down. Much of our grain, instead of going to feed people, is going to feed animals and produce bio-fuels. The grain that it takes to feed one animal for food can feed 5 people. As Thomas Robert Malthus, in his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population, pointed out that human population increases at a geometric rate, doubling about every 25 years if unchecked. On the other hand, agricultural production increases arithmetically. Thus unchecked population will always outstrip agricultural production. And if the population just keeps on growing, taking up more and more land, where exactly do you figure we are going to be able to grow this food?
It is time for a change, people. We have to abandon the current idea that we are “rulers of the earth” and replace it with the idea that we are “stewards of the earth”. We need to switch to sustainable farming, involving interplanting with plants like legumes to put things back into the earth. We need to compost and reduce our reliance on pesticides and fertilizer. We need to engage in smarter irrigation practices and use mulching and cover crops. We need to come up with alternative, clean sources of energy. And I really think that we need to start paying attention to the concept of zero population growth. We’ve reached the point of Malthusian collapse. We need to do this now, before we push our dear Mother Earth past the point of no return.