UN warning over plundered Earth
November 7, 2001 11:16 PM   Subscribe

UN warning over plundered Earth EARTH is being plundered at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate which needs to be curbed quickly to avoid disaster, the United Nations says.

Will the conflicts of the 21st century be based around the control of water, the needs of food production and economic inequality? Maybe it's time to consider these issues. We can't totally blame the poor and weak for their own circumstances.

posted by skinsuit (14 comments total)
Sure we can. If only they would stop breeding. Allowing nature to take its course among the third world countries, and also rapidly expanding the space program to include colonizing other planets, are going to be required for survival of humankind. Also energy conservation through renewable and efficient resources will have to play a role. The problem of excessive breeding among poor and starving countries (and even civilized nations like the U.S., Mexico since civilized nations waste/use up far more resources) in my opinion is by far the most imminent threat.

The problem is how to ethically address the problem of overpopulation, this is something that will be debated for a long time. Some advocate providing birth control. I really have to laugh at this solution since I don't see it making a dent in the problem. Then there's the China solution, the 2 children limit. This would be/has been fairly effective, but most nations wouldn't even consider this an option. Another option would be to pay people to become sterilized. People could receive maybe $10,000-20000 if they agreed to the procedure. There would also be fierce opposition to this from the left saying it is exploiting the poor.

There really is no solution to the problem of breeding other than colonizing other planets, energy conservation(not through usage restriction but renewable resources solar power etc), and letting nature take its course....
posted by rabbit at 12:04 AM on November 8, 2001

China's two-children limit? Make that one. Now imagine a whole country full of spoilt only-children - the 'Little Emperors' syndrome. No wonder most nations wouldn't consider it.
posted by rory at 1:42 AM on November 8, 2001

As an only child i take offense to that...but yes you're right it's one not two. sorry for the mistake
posted by rabbit at 1:52 AM on November 8, 2001

Take a chill-pill, Phil. No slight on Western only-children was intended. There's a big difference between an only-child born into a family that only wanted one child, and an only-child born into a family that had no choice and would have preferred 2, 3, 4... and when you magnify that across a nation of 1 billion+, you get noticeable social effects. I've just been sharing an office with a former school-teacher from China; she saw the effects first-hand.
posted by rory at 2:15 AM on November 8, 2001

Taxpayers are being plundered at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate by the U.N. which needs to be curbed quickly to avoid disaster, Fred Norman says.
posted by frednorman at 2:31 AM on November 8, 2001

rory- i was just joking when i said that
posted by rabbit at 2:36 AM on November 8, 2001

To quote Over Population.org

"Resolving overpopulation is a complex undertaking. If the world and each of its nations are to reach a point where numbers, resources, and biological systems are in balance, the growth of the human population must first be brought to a halt and then reduced. The challenge is how to address the issue of our burgeoning populations and provide for their welfare on a sustainable basis while maximizing biological diversity and minimizing environmental degradation."

With that said, during the UN Cairo conference on Population and Development, [I believe in 1999], objections came from nations with influential religious factions: Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Algeria, Libya, Malta, and Sudan.
There Specific objections included the Commission on Population and Development's recommendations that
(a) reproductive health services should include new methods of emergency contraception,
(b) abortion be made safe where it is legal, and
(c) that young people have full access to sexual and reproductive health education and services.

What the UN are currently saying isn't new and I fear it will get a lot worse, which by that stage we'll be to late to make it better.
posted by X-00 at 2:48 AM on November 8, 2001

Rabbit - okay, sorry to overreact. But I do think this whole population issue is somewhat beside the point, when your average Bangladeshi uses a fraction of the resources used by your average Westerner. Having more than two children makes sense in countries where child mortality is high and there's no social security system. And those three or four children who'll spend their lives walking everywhere because they can't afford a dollar for a ride on a dangerously-overcrowded bus will have a minimal impact on the environment compared to your average hop-in-the-gas-guzzler-to-drive-to-the-shops Westerner. How would we like 'nature to take its course' on us? (It probably will, but we sure won't like it.)
posted by rory at 2:50 AM on November 8, 2001

OverPopulation.com has loads of info on the overpopulation myth. The FAQ, in particular, is good.
posted by frednorman at 3:36 AM on November 8, 2001

rory- though the westerner uses up more resources, it will undoubtedly be the one to save civilization through the colonization of other planets and solar power technology etc. The breeding is the larger problem, since many of these third world country residents flood into the U.S. and become westerners. Slowing the consumption of resources by greedy westerners would not cause a significant impact in stopping the plundering of the Earth's resources as population will grow at too quickly a rate for energy conservation to keep up. By nature taking its course I mean that people will starve and die when resources run out, globalthermonuclear war perhaps, plagues nature will correct the problem whether we can or not.... It's only a matter of trying to find a prettier way of solving the problem before the problem solves us
posted by rabbit at 3:37 AM on November 8, 2001

Slowing the consumption of resources by greedy westerners would not cause a significant impact in stopping the plundering of the Earth's resources

I disagree. Failing to slow Westerners' consumption of resources will have a far worse impact than increased consumption in poor countries, because we're increasing from a much higher base. An extra ten percent fossil-fuel use in the US or the UK adds up to a lot more in absolute terms than an extra ten-percent in a typical comparably-sized developing country.
posted by rory at 4:41 AM on November 8, 2001

i like the finding:

A crucial key lay in giving women a far greater say in society and, equally importantly, in setting the size of their desired families.

and more succinctly in another article:

the growing power of women over their own futures could save the planet from destruction...

makes sense to me given women pay (gross overgeneralization) more attention to the the social dimension (versus the political).
posted by kliuless at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2001

i'm all for being payed for sterilization. someone send me a check for $20,000.
posted by tolkhan at 7:08 AM on November 8, 2001

ha ha
me too!

in fact give me 20K and some rusty scissors and you can send the doctors to do more work elsewhere.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:35 AM on November 8, 2001

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