12 Mar 2014

We Are The Biggest Environmental Threats

EY writes:*

What is the biggest environment threat? Pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, or climate change? All I mentioned above are caused by the growth of human population. From “Tragedy of commons”, Hardin claims that the growth of human population brought up the demand of scared natural resource. India and China will be the examples in this blog. Both countries bear a great proportion of the world population; they both have different attitude to population growth. The one-child policy, which is the population control policy from China government, successfully delayed the world population from hitting seven million for four years. Although India was the first country that adopted policy for population control, it failed due to value the male child and bureaucracy. Because of the massive population, both countries need to input more and more food every year. From the throughout model, economy is a machine which withdraw resource and discard wastes as pollution. When the world population increases, the economy will produce more waste, and the scared resource will decrease over time.

We can use fishery industry as an example. If over-fishing happened which is too many fishing that fish cannot sustain their population by itself, the ecology system will be break and cause more environmental problems. In lecture, instructor discussed a few successful ways to control population. I believe that cost of living will be the best ways to achieve the goal. Given the assumption of everyone is selfish, if the cost of have a child is too high, people will give up having a child instead to have a well living standard.

Bottom Line: The world population should be the primary concern for humanity.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


Anonymous said...

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

Billy Xu 5788 said...

I personally think high costs of living do not contribute to having less children. Countries like China or India, they have high historical population base; however, surprisingly they are not the top countries with highest fertility rate,and this could due to the birth control policy. The countries with highest fertility rate are African countries. I think the reason they are hiving such high fertility rate (more than 5 children per women according to the worldbank data) is due to the opportunity costs of having children is low, which means if they choose to work instead of taking care of their children, they would not make as much as to those who work at higher wage. In other words, people who earn high wage, they cannot afford to have children because they have to give up their earnings and look after their children at home instead; and this explains the reason why rich countries (OECD countries) tend to have lower fertility rate than African countries.

Another reason that explains African countries have high fertility rate is probably due to high childhood mortality rate. Parents in those countries have higher expectations they their children would not survive till their adulthoods due to factors such as political instability, health and nutrition etc.

Countries like China or India, I think the reason they have such huge population base is partially due to cultural factor. I am from a Chinese cultural background family; in Chinese culture, male childs are expect to carry family's kinships and take care their parents, and that is the reason they prefer to have sons. And the more sons each family has, higher the chance the family's kinship will pass along; and it is especially the case in rich families.

Therefore, having high living standard would not solve the overpopulation problem, it is through education, technological progression, fair distribution of wealth and opportunities between rich and poor and political stability and control that can solve the problem. However, non of these factors suggested above is a easy goal to achieve.

Comment by Billy Tian Yu Xu - 5788
Thx :) Happy studying

DW said...

You’re correct that population growth is our biggest threat. A former city manager once told me that whatever we do, San Diego cannot ever solve its problems until

It gets it under control. But how can you tell free people where they can and cannot live? Who gets to make those rules?

erik, yiu said...

To Billy Tian Yu Xu:
yes, you are right. I missed the cultural factor for those low education family. we can use Hong Kong as a example, people who live their have same culture and education backgrounds. Hong Kong has low birth rate, since the cost of living is so high. people prefer having pet rather than having children. indeed, it hard to control the population growth, it can be improve. thanks for comment my blog post

Michael said...

You wrote: "All I mentioned above are caused by the growth of human population"; this is very true, but hardly acknowledged, unfortunately.

About costs of living: this seems logical, but looking around the poor seem to have more children of average than the rich. How about a relation to education?

Anonymous said...

Just to add that having more than two children should be taxed.

Anonymous said...

I never understand humans that promote their own reduction. People that argue over-population as the source of the problem should realize how quickly they can help solve the problem by simple subtraction of the self. It is a very selfish and elitist argument otherwise. Conserve resources...yes, find sustainable ways...yes, promote not having children via economics...NO. Without humans there would be no conscious understanding of the very beauty we are out to save.

Chris Chan said...

Since population problems is difficult to solve. I prefer government use some preventing way to prevent the problems. Government should subsidize the firm to produce cleanly. It would be more effective than wasting the money to solve the problem directly. Pollution damages always need huge costs to fix.

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