Archive for Monday, June 23, 2008

Population growth strains global resources

June 23, 2008


Amid the furor over sky-high oil prices and $4 gasoline, the news media have given minimal attention to an increasingly significant factor contributing to rising energy prices: the relentless uptick in global population.

We're adding 77 million energy-consuming people to the planet every year. That increase is more than triple the population of fast-growing Texas, the second-most populous state in the world's third most-populous nation.

The bulk of the global population jump is in developing countries where energy consumption rates also are rising the fastest. That phenomenon not only is fostering greater worldwide demand for fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal), but also squeezing precious fresh-water supplies and steadily decreasing land available for crops at a time when food prices are soaring.

Given this backdrop, it was pleasing to see a news article outlining Egypt's intensified efforts to rein in its rapid population growth at a time when the government is dealing with lengthy bread lines and riots over flour rationing.

In only about 25 years, Egypt's population has roughly doubled, to 81 million, making it the most populous Arab nation and the 16th most populous of the world's 200-plus nations. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has launched a new family planning campaign based on concerns that the nation's population would double by 2050 based on current growth rates.

The slogan for the $80 million campaign is simple: "Two children per family - a chance for a better life."

Indeed, that's roughly the birth rate necessary to eventually stabilize the world's population.

That lower birth rate would reduce the growing pressure on the world's finite supply of fossil fuels, fresh water and arable land. It also would temper the damage that continued population growth is causing in terms of air and water pollution, destruction of rain forests and extinction of plant and animal species.

As the United Nations Population Fund has noted, stronger family planning programs and increased formal education for women raise their living standards, lower their birth rates and reduce the number of unwanted children entering the world. The less that women face unwanted pregnancies, the lower the number of potential abortions.

Even if the world's birth rate were instantly lowered to two per woman, there would be continued population growth for a considerable time because many nations currently have a large number of women of child-bearing age.

The United States, with 304 million people, is the world's biggest energy glutton and is growing at nearly 3 million people annually, with immigration a major factor. In 2050, the U.S. is expected to have 420 million people, an increase of 116 million, and will retain its ranking as the world's third-most populous nation, according to PRB projections made in 2007.

It would be laudable if America spent far less money on ill-fated foreign adventures such as the Iraq war and instead focused overseas expenditures on family planning programs, reduction of poverty and disease, agricultural development, improving water systems and enhancement of women's rights. In a future presidential administration, that actually might happen.

Jack Z. Smith is an editorial writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His e-mail address is


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

"Ah, yes, Bozo, when all else fails, call the well-thought out and well-expressed opinion of others, "spam"."What failure are you referring to, Marion? I merely accurately noted that this spam shilling for nuclear power has very little to do with the topic of the story, and then I replied to his spam.So other than using it as an excuse to use one of your favorite meaningless and silly terms (biosolids,) what is your point?

peach_plum_pear 9 years, 10 months ago

Environmentalists aren't touting forced abortion or opposing aids relief and there's a long, long way to go before industrial farming and genetic engineering are "condemned." I think the message here is that Americans should be more responsible when it comes to reproduction. There's no reason for families to produce more than two kids, if they want a big family why not adopt? There are millions of babies in 3rd world countries that won't ever have a shot at having adequate health care or education unless they get adopted. In this day and age, every child is a child of choice. People should only be bringing a child into this world when they've planned for it, secured it's financial future, and are certain that they have the parenting skills necessary. Finally, I applaud this author for equating birth control with women's rights. Reproductive choice is an unalienable right belonging to every woman who has reached child-bearing age (which is NOT the age of 18). Women everywhere deserve easy access to affordable birth control!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 10 months ago

Considering how long Nick has been weeping over cool's spanking, I'm investing in tissue companies.

Brittanicus 9 years, 10 months ago

Diversity Alliance for Sustainable America. stated in it's article that if the U.S. grants amnesty and gives citizenship to 12 to 30 million illegal migrants, as Senators Obama and McCain propose. All those naturalized citizens could possibly add 120 million U.S. and foreign-born relatives to the U.S., in the next 20 years whom all consume energy. Then again, if America adopted the SAVE ACT ,millions of illegal aliens would leave these shores, gas would be more obtainable. Today our highways are clogged with vehicles, but since Arizona started clamped down on illegal workers, the road traffic has thinned out. Along with nuclear energy, wind power, off-shore drilling these resources and other avenues might sustain us for years to come. Drilling for oil, natural gas in the gulf or both oceans, has new innovative methods that will not cause contamination. You must decide your children's future, your jobs by demanding Democrats sponsor the Federal SAVE ACT (H.R.4088 enforcement in the workplace) Call toll-free (2022243121 )NUMBERSUSA. Tell everybody..!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

"I agree, nuclear I is the best solution, eventually we will be able to send the waste into outer space."Please tell me you're not really serious.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 10 months ago

"Wind and solar are just fine, but you depend of windy and sunny conditions for a medium amount of electricity. "Not sure why this article triggered your spamming it for nuclear shilling, but since you made the above statement, I thought I would point out that the winds are always blowing and the sun is always shining. And if nuclear power is such a great and perfect solution, then it can be done with the repeal of the Price-Anderson Act, the requirement of a truly safe method of storage of the extremely dangerous waste it produces, effective controls on pollution created in the mining and transport of uranium ore, real safeguards against terrorist attacks and no government subsidies.

devobrun 9 years, 10 months ago

PT Barnum is alive and well in the energy field. Predictive "science" based upon narratives that can't be tested abound.Alvin Toffler, and many others engage in projections that never come to pass. Club of Rome stuff is not too different from Nostradamus. Stop wringing your hands folks. Logrithmic, photovoltaics are not renewables. It takes 16 years to recover the energy used to manufacture the cells. With a lifetime of 10 years.....don't bother.Wind must be supplemented by techniques that can kick in when the wind doesn't blow. Since the energy from turbines is proportional to velocity cubed, the variability from wind is huge. Example: If the average wind speed changes from 12 mph to 15 mph, the power out of a wind turbine doubles. Managing this variable power source is difficult when the % is small. But when a sizable part of theelectrical generating capacity of the grid is made up of turbines, chaos is assured. Ethanol is similar to PV systems. This business of relying on "renewables" is ill-defined and currently the realm of BS (bad science). Stop worrying old ladies. The engineers will eventually take over and none of this stuff you read above will become manifest. Intelligence will prevail over politics and fear.

blessed3x 9 years, 10 months ago

It seems to me that the biggest impact this nation could have on environmental concerns is to close our border and halt illegal immigration. I believe the author agress, but only hinted at that fact.

brian1030 9 years, 10 months ago

Population control.....So, we should continue blaming on China's "One-Child-Policy" or we should say "Thank You" to them? I knew that because of the "One-Child-Policy", in total, China estimates that it has three to four hundred million fewer people today with the one child policy than it would have had otherwise!! Do you know what Kansas population is? Only three millions!China is currently the world's 2nd largest oil and automobile consumption country(after US), only God will know how much higher the gas price will be if China dosen't has "One-Child-Policy".

Frederic Gutknecht IV 9 years, 10 months ago

Mention overpopulation and people start to rattle on about just about anything BUT overpopulation.It's hard for me to imagine MANY problems NOT being eased by a reduction of population. Is it really that hard for you?Go ahead and multiply and subdue the earth for the sake of the books or Book...and, by all means, enjoy your neighbors. H. Lecter will tell you how...with same fava beans and a nice chianti, perhaps?~)I really do sometimes wish that the all-knowing plutocrats, impractical dreamers and sheeple would PLEASE boldly go where no man has gone find some new life and civilizations to ruin!~) Wait...Been HERE...Done that.

salad 9 years, 10 months ago

How about fewer people. Cultures with empowered women who share equal status with men tend not to have 18 kids apiece. Seems like the world would be better off if we spent less on ammunition and more on exporting a better way of life. It sure seems like a lot of people from poor countries want to come here, doesn't it? Not only for the jobs and better life, but also the culture.

bd 9 years, 10 months ago

Nuclear is the only viable option.Solar and wind are great, but not the only solution.We all need to change our habits, adjust our thermostats,build more energy efficient housing, spend money on getting energy efficient appliances, plant gardens, drive less and slower.We are in for a bumpy ride!Hold on!

Flap Doodle 9 years, 10 months ago

Don't the French rely heavily on nuclear plants for electricity?

bd 9 years, 10 months ago

Hey, maybe those millions of empty containers we send back to china every year could be filled with coal!

kansas778 9 years, 10 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says: you are fools and if we are lucky, Darwinian theory will intervene.******Careful what you ask for; they won't go down as individuals, they'll take the whole country with them.

devobrun 9 years, 10 months ago

Log, it could be that the old right wing-left wing points of view are not operating here.So referencing McCain, Bush admin or even Southern Calif Edison is not a valid metric for evaluating the new technologies. They are all engaged in PR. Just as Al Gore and Jim Hansen are.So, if the Surgis and Nanosolars of the world really can produce, where is the energy going to be stored? Solar and wind will always be highly variable. A storage medium must be found to buffer the energy.Do you know of a company or technology that can store the energy efficiency? Don't forget, it isn't energy that we need, it is exergy that must be gathered and stored and used. The Gibbs free energy, the usable energy, on time in the right place energy.No this isn't right wing, it is engineering. It must be tough. It must ask questions. You can't put a man on the moon or solve the energy problem with hopes and politics.

Brent Garner 9 years, 10 months ago

A comment about the frequently referenced China One Child policy. It has indeed been credited with slowing the growth of China's population. However, it has also had a sad consequence. This policy has interacted with traditional Chinese preference for a male heir and has resulted in a dramatic increase in the abortion and infanticide of female babies. This has, in turn, resulted in the fact that the Chinese now have a measurable and significant excess of males. This has resulted in women, even married women, being abducted and sold as "brides". So, the well intentioned policy aimed at limiting and reducing Chinese population has now developed a dark and potentially sinister effect. Another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences??? Or, perhaps, another example of how unwise man is in his efforts.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 10 months ago

I (heart) girfriend when he's being all judgmental and stern and stuff.

Rationalanimal 9 years, 10 months ago

This is a lie. Mr. Jack Z. Smith should be the first volunteer to depopulate the world. You fools. The entire enviro-facism movement is nothing more than a re-packaging of Jonesville suicide rhetoric. Stop drinking the Kool Aid.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 9 years, 9 months ago

Is it wise to pay the least bit of attention to a selfish fool such as Ratianalanimall? It is ever wise to fear a fool? Does Ratianalanimall fear fools? Why? Will enviro-facism hurt Ratianalanimall? Is Ratianalanimall so paranoid and fearful that Ratianalanimall calls a movement by the most educated people on the planet "a repackaging of Jonesville suicide rhetoric"? Thank goodness that we have rational animals around to curb the "sky is falling" rhetoric by using the "repackaging of Jonesville suicide rhetoric".Hilarious. Who's the KoolAidaholic, here? Admit that you are only concerned with your investments in a failed economic model.The bottom line is that the human race has thrived by collecting free resources, by stealing collected resources and though willful domination of bodies and spirit, such as enslaving their fellow man through the use of brutal force "repackaging ... Jonesville suicide rhetoric"!~) hahahahahahaYou can only rape, pillage and steal for so long, dudenationbrownshirtanddrawers, before you run out of pushovers and stuff. Then you're down to soylent green and other forms of recycling, dumdumA$$!~) Enjoy the Koolaids of your brlilliant ascendancy, Rationsofanimal!

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