Human Overpopulation In the Labor World

Employment statistics are a tricky subject, and human population growth has without a doubt added to the complexity of the issue. An increase in numbers changes the labor supply, the demand for jobs, and the need for workers. And as can likely be expected, excess humans on this planet ultimately does more harm for the world of labor than it does good.

As a young country, America wanted to quickly build its population in order to have more hands to work. More working hands meant more power and an increase in national revenue. However, as is visible today, an overpopulated country also causes excess manpower when it comes to labor. While there used to be more of a need for labor than available workers, the times have changed. Today, unemployment has become a major national problem, as there are far too many people to possibly give everyone a job who needs one.

There does exist somewhat of a contradiction to the previous statement. According to CNN, America’s unemployment rate has fallen below 5% for the first time since America suffered from the economic crash of 2008. Many Americans view this as a great victory, and it is indeed an improvement from before; however, that is not all there is to the story. As of January 2016, the amount of working adults has actually seen a pattern of decrease and now sits at 62.7%. In fact, the truth is that annual wage growth is only 2.5%. According to Sharon Stark of D.A. Davidson, normally when unemployment is as low as it is in today’s world, wage growth should be somewhere around 4% per year. Thus, the answer to the question of who exactly is lowering America’s unemployment rate as well as who is filling many of these jobs previously held by working adults is actually America’s youth – a trend mostly unique to this new age. In recent years, the amount of teenagers seeking work in order to support themselves or their families has risen dramatically. With an increase in average family size, more needs to be done in order to support that family, which is where this sudden change in working trend comes from.

So, the reason for the country’s sour mood? Statistics aren’t showing what’s behind the scenes. Because of these new trends in labor, adults are holding more part time jobs when they really need full time jobs. In today’s day and age, Americans go to extreme lengths to pursue the best degrees,  the best internships and the highest level of experience possible in order to score a job in today’s tricky market. Even just 10-20 years ago, we didn’t have to nearly to those lengths to pick up a decent career. However, the fact that a college degree from a prestigious school and one’s fair share of prior work-related experience can still leave a person with nothing is often very discouraging to Americans. Money inflation can be seen as related to this issue in the sense that while a college degree used to be a rarity, today, that alone will likely not land you the job you need. The value of obtaining a degree has gone down, which is an extremely difficult truth to face for this paying thousands of dollars a year for schooling. For this reason, some adults have given up looking for jobs completely.

However, there are actions that can be taken.

For example, improving the methods of America’s education system will allow educators to implement a shift in thinking for Americans at a young age. Encouraging open conversation and debate on topics such as the implications of abortion, voluntary sterilization, and the pros and cons of being a part of the “large American family” takes away from this country’s previous notion that there is only one way to exercise values in America. Implementing open and more discussion-based learning will be a crucial step in breaking down old standards that are not useful anymore. The idea of education also extends to the adult members of the population. In their lifetime, humans are often unable to directly see the way in which their actions (and such actions can, in fact, include choosing to have a larger family) affect the world around them. It is for this reason that encouraging people to change can often be quite difficult, as people seek visible results. Thus, it is crucial for major companies and groups in the media to take the time to inform adults about topics such as family planning, the drastic effects of overpopulation, and the various forms of safe sex and contraceptives that are available to the public in today’s world.lv For example, the state of Washington has been acknowledged in today’s media as one of the most successful states in terms of family planning and its effectiveness, primarily through programs such as USAID. The spotlight can be extremely powerful, especially with the relevance of social media in today’s world – the problem of overpopulation needs to be put under it. Furthermore, there are steps that can be taken when it comes to the American economy. Traditionally, economic incentives have been put in place in order to encourage families to contribute to society by having children. However, the direction of these rewards need to change. If incentives such as tax benefits were to be given to those who chose to keep families small, this would be a powerful start to making a change. There has already been some progress with this; in today’s world, programs such as Social Security and Medicare actually reduce the fertility rate by about 0.5 children per woman. This is a start, but there needs to be more of this happening on a national basis.

Extra Deliberation

On March 1st, I attended an extra deliberation surrounding the topic of college tuition and whether or not the rates of it should increase, decrease, stay the same, or even be completely obliterated.

It’s easy to say (and this was actually a point brought up by the RCL students in the very beginning of the deliberation) that college tuition should just be lowered for everyone. I mean, what sane person would say that they want to pay more to go to school? But there’s actually a lot more to it than that, and this deliberation helped me look further into that.

However, unfortunately there were a lot more things about the deliberation that I disliked rather than liked. For example, the moderators chose to split the deliberation by means of liberal, conservative, and moderate points of view. Disclaimer: I am by no means a picky person whatsoever, and I always like to simply just trust that the people running the show know what they’re doing. But the thing is, I felt that the approach used honestly just didn’t really work for this topic.

In my opinion, when discussing a topic such as college tuition, it makes more sense to speak about it in terms of individual values rather than sides as strict as liberal and conservative. It’s a bit limiting, especially for a topic that possesses so many possible angles. I often found myself agreeing with a certain point of view from one side, but then also one from another side. I don’t think this normally would have been a problem, but I felt that I wasn’t allowed to do that, and it really just made the whole thing confusing.

I also think this caused the conversation to often sidetrack into points that weren’t exactly relevant and made it a lot harder for people to pinpoint the argument they were trying to make.

In addition, I also felt as though the moderators did less moderating and more arguing with people with whom they didn’t agree. This also added confusion and took away from the organization of the event.

That being said, the deliberation did allow me to look into aspects of college tuition that proved it’s more than just a big number that changes ever so slightly from school to school.

One thing I’ve noticed within myself is, frankly, how little I think about college tuition (in depth, at least). As I said before, it sort of has just seemed to me to be one big looming number that gets higher every year when it should be doing the opposite. This deliberation made me realize how intricate the system is. I discovered that while lower college tuition would be great, for example, there are always pitfalls and negatives to every side.

Human Population Growth: The Effects on Biodiversity

“The massive growth in the human population through the 20th century has had more impact on biodiversity than any other single factor.” –Sir David King, science advisor to the UK government.

We all know that the population is expanding. However how often is it that we really think about the effects? How many times have we even seen the effects with our own eyes?

It can be a tough subject to pinpoint exactly, but one of the ways we can begin to do that is through investigating one of the ways that human population growth affects the planet most visibly: through the plant’s biodiversity, and through the lives of species other than our own. In fact, the growth of the human species is the main factor in the mass animal extinctions that we have experienced over the recent years.

Today, our population is over 7 billion. Before we had gotten to the 6 billion mark, humans alone were already using over 40 percent of the global NPP number. NPP is the term used to describe the process of species utilizing the sun’s energy for the sustaining of life. What’s interesting (and alarming) to note about this is the fact that humans have been on this earth for far less time than the majority of the earth’s species. In fact, we are a relatively young group – while our ancestors lived as many as 6 million years ago, the modern form of the human as we know it today has only been in existence for around 200,000 years. The  oldest animal fossil to date, on the other hand, is around 560 million years old.

Thus, human population growth arguably affects other species even more than it does our down. Humans share the earth’s resources with countless other species (the majority of which also most likely haven’t even been discovered yet!). A primary issue that lies in this is the fact that as humans, we don’t exactly seem to know how to share very well at all. Rapid growth of the human population has resulted in the increase of human need for earth’s natural resources – food, water, the materials for shelter, etc. Because of this, we are increasingly cutting into resources that other species must use in order to survive. We have hindered, or even ended the lives, of numerous species. Today, 99% of the species still remaining on this planet are at risk because of human activity alone.

For example, exploitation and habitat loss through human activity has resulted in the loss of approximately 93% of the world’s tigers. Today, there could be as few as 3,000 tigers left on the planet.

5 species of rhinos have recently gone extinct because of humans, as well. According to Huffington Post, the west African black rhino (the most recent species of rhino to go extinct) was officially declared extinct because of habitat loss, as well as an increase in poaching for rhino horns.

The passenger pigeon one made up as much as 40 percent of the world’s bird population. Today, there are no passenger pigeons left.

According to the Discovery Channel, as of 2014 humans have directly caused 322 animal extinctions over the past 500 years alone. All of this has occurred while, simultaneously, the human population has grown exponentially.

It’s easy to wonder how the numbers have grown to be so extreme on both ends of the spectrum. The truth is, it’s an inverse relationship – as human population, demands, the need for resources goes up the number of species and their quality of life goes down. And we were the ones to take it to the extreme measures that we see today.

The existence of species other than our own is crucial for the health of the planet – and that seems like an obvious statement.

So what is it then that we’ve done? Do we truly need all of the resources that we are continuing to exploit? Or do we just have a lack of willpower that we can’t seem to get over?

Human Over Population: Contexts

It’s safe to say that we know rapid human population growth is an issue today. However, has it always been this way? Not necessarily. In fact, population growth actually used to be quite slow. Our increase in numbers is a phenomenon that occurred (and rapidly increased) over several periods of time throughout history.

Keep in mind that we as a species are pretty young compared to everything else that has inhabited this planet before us; even still, we’ve managed to use our brief time here on this earth to quite literally multiply our figures very quickly. We’ve actually spent more of our history being concerned with how we’re going to increase the population rather than stop the growth. War deaths, plagues, short lifespans, and infant mortality rates used to dominate the planet and hinder our growth as a species.

Beginning in 2012, over 80 million are added to the world each year. After 2013, the human population became around 7 billion people. Today, around 7.3 billion people inhabit earth. As for the future? The UN estimates that our global population will round out to be around 11.2 billion by the year 2100.

Human population as represented in this political cartoon (tying into the excess need for food)

Human population as represented in this political cartoon (tying into the excess need for food)

As said before, things weren’t always this way. During the what is known as the pre-agricultural period (aka, anything occurring around 10,000 years ago or prior to that), human growth was very slow. People relied on the development of tools and other new inventions, as well as migration to other regions of the world, in order to survive, and it took a great effort just to double the population (this alone even took thousands of years). At the resolution of this period, it was estimated that the population fell somewhere between 5-10 million people.

Following this, the agricultural period came underway (this was the period around 10,000-1,000 years ago). This was a time in which human development arguably began to skyrocket. Basically, we started doing a bunch of stuff to make lives easier for ourselves. Efficiency became a real word during this time (I actually have no idea when this word was invented, but you know what I  mean) as humans began to take part in a major system of developments throughout the world. Animals become domesticated, and labor became easier with the development of new farming techniques (ex. irrigation, plowing, etc.). Because of this new way of life, it was easier for humans to build their population than before. At the end of this time, the population was around 500 million people (a larger and much more rapid increase than before).

However, it wasn’t until the industrial period brought about the Industrial Revolution that the population really began to skyrocket as we know today. At first, technological advances played a somewhat minimal role in this new growth. Later on, beginning in the 1800s, rapid agricultural advances and changes allowed for people to survive longer because of an increase of food and other resources. Technology further grew, and soon advances in the workplace as well as advances by means of medicine began to increase the human lifespan. The need for sanitation in the workplace and other areas became more acknowledged. During this period alone, the population grew from around 500 million to the 7.3 billion we have today.

The fear now is that we, as a species, have begun to outgrow our resources. With growing numbers, we require more and more stuff to sustain ourselves. The amount of humans on this earth is positively correlated with the amount of resources that we use up, and each of these factors are rapidly increasing. We are now concerned with carrying capacity, a concept used to describe the maximum amount of a species that the environment can handle given the amount of food, water, and other resources that he environment possess. Have we begun to exceed that number? Perhaps so.

 

Human Over Population

When I decided to do a blog on environmental issues, I figured that the first topics I’d be addressing would be pretty typical. I assumed my first post would have to do with something like coral reef bleaching, endangered species, or runoff issues in our country’s farmland. While these are all topics that I would probably want to address at some point, right now I actually plan to talk about something that until now, I didn’t know was technically classified as an “environmental issue.” For today’s post, I’ve decided to look a little bit into the concept of human overpopulation.

We here the words “seven billion people” a lot. Many of us even know that this is a problem. But for myself personally, I haven’t given it much deep thought (or perhaps I’ve just thought about other issues more.” But I think it’s important to take into account the fact that this is actually a bigger problem than it might seem. It’s important to realize that the world population has nearly troubled in the past fifty years. It’s important to realize that the overpopulation of our species hinders and even stops the growth of many other plant and animal species. And it’s important to note that according to a Ted Talk done on the subject recently, if everyone on earth lived like the average North American, it would require four more earths to provide all the material and energy.

What actually might be even more haunting than these facts are the possible ways to stop this issue. So what do we do? Tell people to have less children? Force abortion if people break that rule? And ensure punishment if people don’t follow that rule?

When China had the “one child per family” rule, it ended up having pretty bad implications. One of these was the frequency of abandoning the child or having an abortion if the child happened to be female, since men are more valuable than women in their culture.

It’s a sticky situation. It’s also grown to be so immense that thinking about solving it can be, well, very overwhelming. In my next couple blogs, I believe that I will stay on this topic for a while instead of changing  to another topic right away. I want to discuss some suggested methods for solving this issue and why they may or may not work, as well as what implications they might bring. Stay tuned!