Over-consumption vs. Overpopulation Table of Contents Introduction: Damages to the Humanity Over-population vs. Overconsumption Who is affected? Who is responsible? Positions: Over-consumption Over-population Common Ground: Environmental Effects Cultural Effects Solution: Overconsumption Overpopulation In the world today, communication and media use through technology is vital to keep up with current events. But with this public increase in communications, comes an increase in public awareness of problems in the world.
In the article “Brazil: Amazon Deforestation Seen Surging”, the author Reuters discusses the cause and ffect of deforestation of the South American rainforest. Another article entitled “Prevent Corals, Fish and Whales from Ocean Acidification” written by the Center for Biological Diversity, approaches a different yet describes similar causes. Articles like these are being posted on the Internet constantly, causing people to question the source and soution of these problems. In order for the solution to be found, the root of these problems must be brought to light. 12] In recent discussions regarding humans affect on the environment, the controversy lies with whether overpopulation or overconsumption is more harm to he environment, culture and the living conditions of future generations. The stakeholders affected by these issues are humans, including the general population (nationally and internationally), the government, and future generations. Societal consensus assumed that overpopulation is the main culprit. People often identify overpopulation with food shortages, farming of marginal lands, and detrimental effects on the environment.
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Another view highlights overconsumption as the main culprit because it trumps the negative effects of overpopulation. In sum, the question s whether our society should be more concerned about the large population growth occurring in places such as India, or the large amount of consumption in countries such as the U. S. Finding a solution to this issue will be complicated but is vital for those effected. The solution itself poses many questions: Who is responsible for the effects that are caused by overconsumption and overpopulation? Who will to take action and help solve the problem?
How do we going to prevent further detriment to the earth and humanity? Overconsumption: Overconsumption has a detrimental affect on the environment, and our culture nd our economy forces this issue into light. Those that believe that this is the main cause to these issues pose a good argument; their main point is that a small fraction of the world’s population consumes the majority of the resources being produced. While it may seem like overpopulation is the issue at hand, this view shows that this may not be true, by stating different facts and beliefs that shows otherwise.
In a response to this controversy, a teacher in the SHIPS Teacher’s Network posted a case study in which he or argues that overconsumption has more affect on humanity. The author makes it clear that he or she is biased, but gives facts that prove overconsumption is to blame. The teacher proves his or her point by stating some facts may be misconstrued. “One author recently conveyed the alarming disparity in birth rates: in three generations, a German woman would have 6 descendants, in the U. S. , 14, and in Africa, 258.
The implication, of course, was that by the middle of the next century, Africans would be depleting resources 18 times more quickly and damaging the environment 18 times more severely than people in industrialized nations.  This data leads one to believe that the main cause for the damage is overpopulation. But the author retorts with a strong argument to further his or her point. “Who most affects the environment? According to one estimate, a person in the U. S. has 50 times more adverse impact than someone in Bangladesh. An American, on the average, consumes 50 times as much steel and 300 times as much plastic as someone in India.
When one examines consumption rather than Just population, the environmental problem of scarcity looks very different. ” The author then compares consumption to the camper’s familiar backcountry ethics saying, leave a campsite as you found it”, his or her point is that people that consume more than they produce are doing something wrong. After reading this teacher’s response, one could easily come to the conclusion that overconsumption is to blame.  After further research, an equation was found that could calculate the impact on humanity by taking into account three simple variables.
The following can sum up the equation. Impact is equal to population multiplied by affluence (per capita consumption) multiplied by the technology used to produce goods (energy, waste). Paul Ehrlick created this equation, his point being that per capita consumption and technology are Just as significant as the number of people when it comes to the impact on humanity. With this idea, it is easy to see how all three variables play an equal part in this issue.  Overpopulation: While overconsumption seems to pose the greatest and most immediate threat, overpopulation is not to be ignored or taken lightly.
In the world today, we look at places like India and China and cringe when we hear the vast amounts of people that live there. With an exponential growth rate, and reports of overcrowding in places all ver the world, it is understandable that overpopulation is on the minds of the general population. While those who believe overpopulations is to blame, they understand that both issues pose a problem to the world today. Regardless of which has a bigger affect on earth’s resources, they accept the fact that most of the earth’s resources are being consumed by the few.
The main argument that they make is that overconsumption is a huge problem, and overpopulation amplifies the impact that it has. In the article “Where Should We Focus”, author Michael Hanauer delves into the ontroversy of overconsumption versus overpopulation. In this article, Hanauer first approaches the argument by stating a common goal of both parties. He focuses on the idea that because of our current rate of consumption, and the fast growth rate of the population, humanity cannot be sustained.
By comparing the consumption of large economic nations, and those of third world countries, Hanauer contrasts the lifestyles of the average American with that of one from a developing country. “On the other hand, most third world consumption levels are between 0. 5 and 5 percent of ours. This vast difference is not because these people recycle, use little plastic or don’t drive a turbo-charged car ?¶ it is because they have no car, no central heat, no refrigerator, and maybe no house at all! ” He then explains that Americans should not think of themselves as selfish as long as they consume at a reasonable rate.
He goes on to state that Americans not only believe that they are morally right in consuming a reasonable amount, but they desire this level of consumption. Hanauer states, “It is this lack of the most basic items, items which most of us believe every human should e able to have, which make up most of the consumption difference between the haves and the have nots… We need to allow all of the world’s citizens a reasonable lifestyle while at the same time heading toward sustainability. ” Hanauer furthers his point by saying that overpopulation is more important in the long run.
Keeping his previous ideas in mind, he makes the statement that “overpopulation occurs at a lower point with a higher standard of living”. This makes sense because the third world countries will be consuming these items Americans consider basic once they evelop further, raising the overall consumption of the world. In order for this to be achieved, population needs to be lowered. In the mind of Hanauer overpopulation control is not Just as important to sustaining the earth, but more important.  While all views on this topic understand that both arguments have importance, they each seem to find their own views of higher importance.
But while they lack this ability to agree on who causes the most problems, they both take responsibility for the effects that they have on humanity and everything that is concerned. In order to ake it easier, breaking up the effects of these two issues is essential. The effects on culture and the environment are the same, regardless of the cause, and will be covered thoroughly. To start, the most obvious effect of these two issues is displayed in the environment. As the population continues to grow, and consumption in 3rd world countries rises, we will eventually run out of room and supplies to sustain the general population.
While this is a long-term affect that is unlikely to ever have a solution, there are short-term affects that inhibit our ability as humans to enjoy living n this beautiful earth. As discussed in the introduction, deforestation and the decreasing numbers in fish, whales, and coral are examples of extreme effects on the environment. According to Amy Harwood in the article “Overpopulation and Extinction” we are currently in Earth’s sixth mass extinction. In her article she estimates that 30,000 species are going extinct every year. Harwood effectively shows a direct relationship between population increase, and extinction rate.
She observes that this is the first of the 6 mass extinctions on earth to be caused by one species, nd not planetary or galactic processes. With obvious examples displayed before us everyday, it would be ignorant to not acknowledge the detrimental effects that overpopulation and consumption are having on the environment.  Interestingly, overconsumption and overpopulation affect the way we live and have far reaching cultural effects. Because we see the harm that we are causing, we find it essential to do something in order to prevent this. This may be using less energy, recycling, buying less materialistic items, etc.
A much deeper effects can be related directly to these issues. In an article written by Anup Shah called “Creating the Consumer”, Shah expands the idea that consumption in America hasn’t always been so abundant. To support this claim, the author highlights the mindset of Americans as early settlers or Europeans. He describes how living conservatively used to be the norm, and only the wealthy were able to live lavishly and spend excess amounts on comfort. This mindset was maintained by religion and social pressure because spending lavishly was frowned upon and considered wasteful. 2] In a Survey conducted by Hanauer, “only 21 percent said they would be willing to do ithout a car and only 13 percent would forgo their Quarter-pounders with cheese”. [1 3] I then read, “Overconsumption won’t Save America” by David Sirota. The description of an American that Sirota gave was that of a selfish and ignorant person. He describes the American mindset with the phrase “shop till you drop”, and mentions that it is a vital flaw in most Americans. “The most recent holiday binge exemplified the impending crisis. Despite persistent unemployment, flat wages and higher prices for necessities (food, healthcare, etc. , America nonetheless went on its usual post-Thanksgiving buying spree. This frustrated me, while at the same time motivating me to find a way to learn from his words.  When considering possible solutions, it is important to take all sides into account. While this may not seem possible due to the vast differences in opinions, it may be feasible. With this in mind it is key to look past the arguments posed by each side, and use the middle ground to find a solution. The question that needs an answer isn’t which poses a greater threat to the world, the people who live here, and the people who will live here.
But, it is how humans can work together to formulate a ethod to slow the consumption of this earth’s resources and space. In order for this to be accomplished, it is key that both sides understand the importance of the opposing view. By reading through many articles and papers written from both point of views, it should be easier to formulate a plan. As they both have proven to be threats to the world, so too should the solution incorporate both problems. Overconsumption is the short-term problem of the two, and as such this problem should be solved first.
There is no easy way to prevent higher output countries like America from consuming more than their fair share. But because these places with higher consumption are shown to have a higher gdp, we can infer that they also have a higher standard of education. While this is not true in all circumstances, it is true for America, and we definitely are to blame for consuming way over the average. “With world population at 6 billion and rising, the richest 20% of humanity consumes 86% of all goods and services used, while the poorest fifth consumes Just 1. 3%.  With this in mind, preventing overconsumption will have to start in these higher educated, yet over consuming countries. The idea is to appeal to the nations with igher education. With proof that material objects don’t create happiness, it is important to show that the lower consuming, and lower standards of living may be a more appealing lifestyle. “First, we need to recognize that there are more effective and satisfying ways to achieve fulfillment than by simply buying more stuff. ”  In this article, “Toward a Solution” author Vicki Robin shows the relationship between the need for money, and unhappiness.
She captivates the reader by showing that it is time spent doing what we love with people we love that makes us happy, and not ime spent earning money to buy more and more goods that Just cause stress and complications. Robin proves her point by stating, miet surveys have shown that our happiness peaked in 1957, when families had smaller houses, 1 car (at most), 1 bathroom and 1 television (black & white)–and VCRs, personal computers and cordless phones didn’t exist. ” Here lies the solution. This country was brought into debt and want for material needs through social pressure and advertising.
By eliminating the idea that money buys happiness, and having more things will satisfy our wants, we should be able to reduce our consumption to reasonable levels. In order to do this the country will have to work as a whole. Children of this generation, while being spoiled and materialistic, seem to have seen the effects that this material wants have had on their parents and their lifestyles. People are saving more, learning to stay out of debt and manage their money more wisely. This is Just the start but with a push, a lower and a more realistic standard of living may bloom.
When it comes to overpopulation, there is no easy answer to this beast of a problem. Humans reproducing at an exponential rate will eventually use up and estroy earth, as we know it. This is inevitable. But small changes to our culture and cultures around the world may slow this growth, and increase our time and happiness here. In my opinion the solution to this is simple. It doesn’t include limiting the number of children couples can have, or killing those who don’t deserve the space they are taking up. In my mind the solution to this is to enjoy our time while we can. This plays largely into the solution given for overconsumption.
We need to go back to a basic standard of living. Spend more time with family and ones that e love, while at the same time decreasing our material wants and minimizing the amount of materials we consume. Through this process we solve both problems. Bibliography:  F. Pearce “Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat. ” Yale Environment 360. Internet: http://e360. yale. edu 21 Apr. 2012.  A. Shah “Creating the Consumer. ” – Global Issues. Internet: http://www. globalissues. org 21 Apr. 2012  Daw. “The Enlightened American ?„?» The Myth Of American Overconsumption http://enlightened-american. om 21 Apr. 2012.  “Day of 6 Billion: October 12 – Consumption & Resources. Internet: http://www. unfpa. org 21 Apr. 2012.  “Environment: Global Issues Regional Applications. ” University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Internet: http://www. uwlax. edu 21 Apr. 2012.  Makyol “Damages to the Earth and Solutions. ” HubPages. Internet: http://makyol. hubpages. com 21 Apr. 2012  A. Harwood “OVERPOPULATION AND EXTINCTION. ” overpopulation and Extinction. Internet: http://www. biologicaldiversity. org 21 Apr. 2012.  P. Ehrlick “Overpopulation or Overconsumption? ” Internet: http://wwwl . umn. edu 21 Apr. 2012.  V.
Robin “TOWARD A SOLUTION TO OVERCONSUMPTION by Vicki Robin. The Population Press. Internet: http://www. populationpress. org 21 Apr. 2012.  D. Sirota “SALON. ” Overconsumption Won’t save America. Internet: http:// www. salon. com 21 Apr. 2012. [1 1] Tracker, China. “While Americans Indulge In Over- Consumption, Chinese Move Up By Enduring Hardship. ” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. http://www. forbes. com/  “World Population Awareness. ” WOA!! World Ovepopulation Awareness. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. http:// www. overpopulation. org  M. Hanauer “Where should we focus” Overconsumption vs. Overpopulation