YATW Blog #1: Arbitrary Future

“Man begets, but land does not beget. ”

Cecil Rhodes

Hello, my name is Quinn Grzywinski, and I’m a ninth grade student at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA. This is the first blog of three  for my English class; for a project that involves us choosing a subject of interest and writing about it, as well as getting our writing into the world, which is in some ways the whole purpose of this project. I choose overpopulation for my subject, and this blog post provides some key statistics and a possible solution. Hope you enjoy.

I want you to picture something. Imagine a pond, somewhere deep in the forest, full of the richest resources for aquatic life you could imagine. So obviously, the fish that live in this pond flourish, living long healthy lives, and reproduce frequently. But after a few years, the amount of fish has become disproportionate to the pond. and the resources that the pond once had has been used up, and without all the resources the fish die.

This is a grim metaphor for what awaits us if overpopulation is not considered a serious issue to the world. Every minute approximately  269 people are born  and about 108 die; the population is rising every minute, and by the year 2020, yes only 7 years from

A chart of the world’s current population density (wikipedia.org)

now, the population will reach 8 billion, from its current 6.5 billion. This troubling statistic raises the question. How much people Earth hold while still running high on resources? According livescience.com “Many scientists think Earth has a maximum carrying capacity of 9 billion to 10 billion people”, so  by that time will there be enough food to eat? Well from the 2 billion tons of grain that the Earth produces every year, we could actually feed a population of 10 billion. Vegetarians. For a population of 10 billion omnivores, only about 2.5 billion or so could be fed. How long do we have? According to the same article, we will reach a population of 9 billion in 2050, and the fabled 10 billion in 2100. You can view the complete article here.

So what does this mean for all major institutions like medicine and energy? Well thanks to resources like clean water running dangerously low, tensions between nations could well result in wars and conflicts. Another is that unemployment and poverty will become a lot more common, because while the population of any given nation may rise significantly, the total jobs may not. A rise in unemployment levels could result in an increased crime rate, and homelessness. I’ve already mentioned that since food may become a lot more rare than it once was around 2100, things like food shelters may become much more scarce, since they may not even be enough food to go around even more the more privileged ranks of society. Global warming may play a part as well, because since coal and natural gases are already being overused, the polar ice caps will melt, and CO2 will be released in dangerously high levels.  

A future coming all too soon… (conserve-energy-future.com)

However, there is ways to combat the problem. According to a pension I found online, the proper way of dealing with this problem is fairly simple: proper sex education and family birth planning. This way, the number of humans joining the planet can decrease to more fairly balance the deaths per minute. But we seem to be on our way there already. United Nation estimates show that the average sizes of families have been getting steadily smaller over time. The article on live.science.com explains, “globally, the fertility rate is falling to the "replacement level" — 2.1 children per woman, the rate at which children replace their parents (and make up for those who die young). If the global fertility rate does indeed reach replacement level by the end of the century, then the human population will stabilize between 9 billion and 10 billion.” This means with the proper education and control, we may be able to control the population at a relatively safe level. It won’t be by any means ideal, but at least, it will be survivable. At this “replacement level” the human races population will come to a halt.

So all in all, overpopulation is a serious problem. It will increase global warning, flare tensions between nations, and even may lead to a global energy crisis. But it is by no means a fixed event. All it takes is to properly educate our children and families, and make them understand the consequences of having a big family. If we can teach the new generation, then by the time we reach 10 billion, we will be in control. However, if the proper steps aren't taken, if families do teach and be taught what to do, by 2100, the world, will be at a point where it may be already too late to reverse the damage. Let me remind you, 2100 isn't some distant future, some made-up number, but a future my generations descendants may well have to face, or even maybe well before that. With it being very hard to predict when our species will reach 10 billion, this scenario may happen even sooner, which only increases the need to start worrying about this issue now. Because once we reach 10 billion, it won’t be a gradual decline, where there’s plenty of time to repair the problem. It’ll be more in fashion to falling off a cliff. What happens next lies in an arbitrary future.  

Thanks for reading! See you in Blog #2!

My annotated bibliography is here.      

Comments (2)

Kara Heenan (Student 2017)
Kara Heenan

Good job, I really liked your blog. The topic you chose with overpopulation was really interesting and to me, unique. I think it really is a serious problem and I didnt really know much about it until I read your blog. Thanks for informing me.

Liam Hart (Student 2017)
Liam Hart

I admire your choice of topic. While overpopulation is a serious issue, it is often avoided due to its being so controversial. I thought it was a nice touch to use a population map, as well. However, there were some problems that I had. I noticed that you used a lot of different population estimates. It ranged from 10 billion to an insane 22 billion by the end of the century. I respect the fact that you emphasized the year 2100, but that causes a bit of detachment for me. I know I'll be 101 then if I even am still alive.