Which came first is what may prove to be the nation's largest salmonella outbreak: the chicken or the tainted egg?
Neither, in my opinion. Both are effects. We are the cause.
Any gardener knows that to solve a weedy problem, you have to get it at its roots.
Why is it that some 500 million eggs have been recalled, and 1,500 people have gotten sick in the U.S. due to salmonella contamination? Proximal causes have much to do with modern farming and food-handling techniques, and something to do with FDA resource limitations. But what about the root cause?
And how about the worst drought in Russia in 50 years, leading to massive crop failure? Could it be fed by the same root?
What of massive population displacement in Pakistan due to inundation, and similar is lesser upheaval due to flooding in China? And while we're at it, can we trace the root to accelerated melting of the polar ice, with ramifications we are still guessing at?
I think we can. The root cause that connects these dots, and many others besides, is global population growth. There are too many of us, and too many more each year.
This particular topic carries something of a wince factor for me, a father of five. I usually enjoy the comfort of practicing what I preach. But, then again, former drug users often make the best addiction counsellors, and some of the top obesity experts struggle with their own weight. I suppose i can come clean about population pressures, despite having done such a poor job of keeping my genes to myself.
I raise the issue because it's ominously absent from the discourse in preventative medicine, public health and public policy. Mum's the word about the global population in almost all discussion of global warming and climate change: modern industrial agricultural practices: and propagation and transmission of infectious and chronic diseases. This is odd, and worrisome. It suggests either obliviousness, fatalism, denial, ideological intransigence or capitulation, and none of these is good.
I was stunned when I spoke last year at the Imagine Solutions Conference in Naples, Fla, that my fellow speakers addressing the trials and tribulations of the planet spoke about a rapid ascent toward a global population of 9 billion or more as a fait accompli. Even though rapid population growth was the driving force behind the problems they went on to discuss--depletion of the oceans, climate change, deforestation and so forth--it was not discussed as a problem in its own right. I had a similar impression when last I participated in the Aspen Ideas Festival.
If the harms of excessive global population have become a taboo topic, I didn't get the memo.
There are more than 6 billion of us here now. I am inclined to think there is no problem 9 billion could solve that 6-plus billion can't. However, 9 billion may be the problem that the 6-plus billion need to solve, if we are to solve any other. Because the growing horse of us consuming the planet's resources, not to mention eggs, in uniquely modern fashion is the problem underlying many other problems.
The massive demands and ramifications of an ever-more-massive human population may be the root of the roots of many of our most urgent crises. Certainly, it is the reason 500,000 eggs were laid, packed and shipped at the same time in the first place. And, like most perils that fall within my preventive medicine purview, it is something we can address by means at our disposal, but only if we are cognizant of it and willing to talk about it.
We have met the enemy, and, in our ever-increasing, ever more modern, ever more voracious multitudes, it is us. While 500 million seems a big number, We have 9 billion things to start talking about, and the sooner, the better.
My thoughts on the topic; Dr. Katz is correct. From his medical background, He can see that distributing birth control can help. Empowering women so they can control the size of their family.....that can also help. Men need to be educated to learn that women are people with just as much right to a say as their men have. Men need to learn that women are not baby making machines. Political entities need to know that encouraging families to not use birth control may enlarge their political base in the short run, but in the long run, will be the destruction of us all.
We need to get our numbers down. The last time I saw a statistic, world population was 4 times what the earth's resources can sustain. That means We are using up resources faster than they can regenerate. From my background in human development, I learned that when families are educated and live with enough money and resources to be in charge of their lives, they automatically limit the number of children in their family. Therefore, one major key to population control is to help families rise out of poverty into relative wealth and comfort.
Empower people with good education and the resources to control their own lives. Let people know that it is OK to stay single, or to marry but not have children, or to adopt. Let people in villages speak with one voice and improve the life in the village . As I said, the key here is to empower people ..... Thanks, Dr. Katz, for opening this topic.
Labels: Rapid population growth