This is one of those issues that has so many sides that you will go insane thinking about it, but it is also a very important issue. The world is suffering from population pressure and I have noticed that it seems to be getting worse. In biology we learn that in nature, animals will control their populations based on availability of resources such as food and living space. In the wild, they will stop giving birth when there is a lack of food, or the population density gets too high. Pretty smart for critters who supposedly can't reason.
Humans on the other hand, are completely different. They will continue to breed and add to the population density to the point of disaster. Humanity is a cancer on the planet. If you don't believe me, think about it this way: Cancer is unregulated growth of cells that will eventually overwhelm and kill the host body. Humanity grows on the planet, apparently unregulated, and without some regard to the future, will soon overwhelm our host and kill it. We have been killing it slowly for some years now. Of course the planet will recover, it doesn't need us, we do however need it and we need to keep it healthy.
The human population is growing at an ever faster rate. In 1800, the worlds population was estimated to be 978 million, yes, Million. 100 years later this figure grew to 1.65 billion! That time it's a B as in One Thousand Million. Let us jump 1 more century, and now the population in the year 2000 is known to be 5.99 Billion! And 9 years later, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,
04/01/09 --- 6,770,332,394
Of course huge portions of these people are concentrated in certain parts of the world, India and China come to mind immediately, and these places show the extremes of life in a place where the population really exceeds the resources of the area. India is known for its' slums and the quick way that disease spreads in these areas. It was recently brought to the fore of the world consciousness in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Children abandoned by their families, because the family can't feed them. They live from garbage cans and survive by the force of will. Too many of them die. In China it has been long known that the government tries to control the population growth by limiting families to one child. So the Families will often abort a healthy child or in even worse cases kill a healthy baby girl at birth so that they can try to have a boy child. Boys are more likely to be able to get a better job in the future and perhaps make a better living. This is the story we are told anyway. But what does this give us? A HUGELY disproportionate ratio of men to women in the general population. That's sure not a good thing. Men with no jobs and no women end up making an army, and armies make nothing but trouble.
This is not the only worry about this population pressure, what about energy? This many people will need energy resources, electrical, motor fuel, raw materials for building structures and products, as well as food and water. Where does all this energy needed come from? Ever expanding power grids and distribution channels. Sooner or later something will not stretch any farther and things will begin to cascade out of control. There are many ways to make electricity, but the most common are currently, coal fired steam, hydro, and nuclear. Coal is the worst for the environment, it puts so much carbon in the air and contributes to the problem of global warming. Not to mention it is also responsible for additional smog , resperatory problems and Beautiful sunsets. One good thing just doesn't outweigh the bad stuff there. Hydro power has the advantage of not needing to pollute the atmosphere, but it takes it's toll in other ways. It can destroy huge tracks of land as well as wildlife habitats. The Earth is made to have certain balances and losing one population of crittes can have a domino effect that may be unpredictable. Suddenly an invasive species may run out of control, or a preditory species will lose a food supply and begin hunting something else. When messing with wildlife habitats, you can never fully predict what will happen by losing a species. Nuclear power is generally considered to be safe overall, but the problem is what to do with the spent nuclear fuel. It's a radioactive substance that needs to be locked away for a thousand years or so. We all know that there has never been a country that lasted for 1000 years. Regions, and cities, have kept their names while regimes and ideologies change. I don't know how many crazy ideologies I would trust with Nuclear waste!!
What about food? As population increases so does the need for food. In South America the rainforests are disappearing so that they can be used as farmland for the ever growing populations. The rainforests are the lungs of the Planet, and by losing this lung tissue the planet breathes harder. The conversion capacity for processing the CO2 in the atmosphere back into oxygen is taking a huge hit. So while the increasing need of electricity pumps CO2 into the air, the razing of the Rainforests takes away the planets' ability to reclaim the Oxygen, and keep the planet balanced. But back to the food, populations grow and they spread out, the cities grow and the farms move ever farther from the population centers. Transportation needs increase. The tillable land areas shrink and the need to get ever greater yields from ever smaller plots increases the need for more tillable land. Forests are cleared, mountains are terraced, and technology gives us hydroponics and greenhouse abilities. Food is produced year round in places where it never could be before. Storage Technology learns to store food better and longer so that we may survive a bad season. But what about 2 or 3 in a row? Increased scale of global warming makes it much more likely that areas that have long been the bread baskets of the world will become untenable as farmland within the next 100 years, and if the population growth continues on the scale that it has been going, there will be some hard times ahead. When people are worried about where they are going to sleep and get something to eat, education takes a back seat.
Large under- and uneducated masses of people are good places to foment rebellion and plant the seeds of war and destruction. Hungry people are easy to anger, and uneducated people are easy to convince and guide. The smart and ruthless will use this knowledge to their advantage and it will be some big wars that end some of the population presure. I just hope that they stick to killng great numbers of each other with conventional weapons. If there really is a nuclear war, I doubt that there will be enough of the planet left usable to sustain any population for very long. I really fear for the future of the children, not only the ones already here, but also for the ones born in the next few decades. As I have gotten older I have found that I would like to raise a few rugrats of my own, but I can honestly say that it scares the hell out of me to add to the problems that the world already has. But then again, what if it turns out to be my child or my grandchild that saves humanity? Highly unlikely, but you never know do you?
I guess I need to have someone in my life to actually breed with, before I should worry about the decision, but there is still a lot there that affects me and that I wonder about!