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Overpopulation: unending growth on our finite planet is impossible.

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The growth of our human population will eventually end somehow, whether we want it or not. But how will it happen? We can stop growing deliberately, of our own accord. Or we can let circumstances beyond our control stop us under conditions much more distasteful than anything we could decide on our own. To ignore the problem of population growth is to choose this second scenario for ourselves. Overpopulation concerns are about the welfare of humanity and the health of the planet, our only support system. As such, only humane solutions are actual solutions.

Worldwide, approximately one million people die every week. In that same week, two and half million people are born. In other words humanity's birth rate is 250% of our death rate. The result of this imbalance is that, for the past fifty years, between 70 and 80 million new people have been added to our planet each and every year like clockwork. It's like adding a new Canada to the planet at least every six months.

One remedy readily appears: humanity should breed less. The only alternative would be to die more, but of course nobody wants to die sooner, most of us hope for a good long life instead. Increasing our death rate is not a humane solution, and unless we lower the number of weekly births it isn't even an effective long term approach either. Some have suggested that famine, disease, war or genocide are solutions to overpopulation, but that is a twisted interpretation of the word "solution". Those are the kind of problems that indicate a state of overpopulation and that we can and should prevent by simply lowering our birth rate.

Overpopulation is an insidious, chronic, long term situation that has been in the making for generations. Like hypertension, it doesn't kill you directly; instead, it raises all other risk factors and lowers the quality of life. And like most long term problems, it requires long term solutions. The only sustainable population is one where the birth rate is a close match for the death rate, a situation that must persist for generations and generations. Clearly this is not what we have now. It may not be possible to calculate an exact number of humans who can live on this planet because it depends on too many factors, such as the level of technology and per capita consumption. At the very least, we should work at stabilizing our numbers, that would be a great start. Following a small-family norm worldwide, providing contraception to all, along with proper education on its use and benefits should become priorities.

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