Overpopulation and the Environment: We Must Act Now Essay

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Overpopulation and the Environment: We Must Act Now

Is the planet doomed? The short answer is no, we're not doomed, since the verb implies inevitability. (1) Population is not growing everywhere, and the areas where growth rates are near zero or even negative (such as the United States and Western Europe) provide clues to addressing the problem in other regions. The longer answer to the doom question is that growing population is a problem that left unsolved could indeed have very harmful effects, both on the environment and our current life styles. However, controlling population growth rates is a relatively simple task compared to the even more critical problem of curbing seemingly insatiable desires for consumption. It is the quest
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If markets are working properly (which is a separate problem), the price of a resource will rise as that resource becomes scarcer. Rising prices encourage people to switch their consumption patterns away from the scarce resource towards a cheaper substitute resource. Price increases also stimulate research that may produce technologies that can allow people to do more with the same amount of resources. Although there is not always a "tech-fix," sometimes there is. More importantly, rising prices can make existing technologies relatively cheap enough to be viable. For instance, a rise in the price of oil may make hybrid cars relatively cheaper, allowing them to become more widespread.

The other failing of these pessimistic models is in their conclusion that continuing population growth is inevitable. A phenomenon called the demographic transition (5) has been observed to occur as nations develop and standards of living rise. Before a nation develops, birth and death rates are generally steady, with the birthrate slightly higher and a low rate of population growth. As development begins, death rates fall sharply (because of increased health care) but birthrates remain steady, causing increasing population growth rates. During the demographic transition, further development and rising standards of living accompany a declining
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