The Book of Genesis tells the story of creation of man. God said to man, "be
fruitful and increase in numbers; fill the earth and subdue it." Prior to the
nineteenth century, it was believed that God would provide for those who came
into the world (Day 101). But, in 1798, this view was shaken by Thomas Malthus'
An Essay on the Principle of Population, in which he concluded that while
population increases geometrically, agricultural production only increases
arithmetically. Current evidence shows that this theory may not be far from the
truth. The world population reached 6 billion on October 12, 1999, and is
expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050! The impact of population growth is
already felt by a majority of nations. The U.S. population has increased by 78%
since 1950. Growing at 3,000,000 per year, U.S. population is expected to
approach half a billion people in 50 years1.
A number of factors drive this
growth. At the most basic level, it is because far more people are born each
year than die. Advances in nutrition and health care have increased survival
rates and longevity for much of the world, and shifted the balance between
births and deaths.
The demands of increasing population magnify demands for natural resources,
clean air and water, as well as access to wilderness areas. In the future, when
there are not enough resources to go around, we will see significant scarcity,
and a backlash of poverty. A number of problems lie behind scarcity and poverty.
Ultimately, our own numbers, and the lifestyles many of us choose to live, drive
all the critical issues we confront. Left unchecked, the combination of
population growth and consumption- along with increasing inequity between rich
and poor individuals and nations-will soon threaten not only the well-being, but...