Say what you will about Donald Trump, but the man knows how to dominate the news. It’s been “All Trump, All the Time” since the day he entered the fray. While we must pay attention to the profound perils of his presidency, there really is more to life than Trump’s trash-talking tweets. Every newscast might consider a segment called “Meanwhile, Back on Planet Earth.” Here are some current items worth noting:
- The UN reports that world population has tripled since 1950. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is expected to see its population increase 20-fold between 1950 and 2100.
- An iceberg the size of Delaware has broken from the Antarctic shelf. It was helping to hold back ice covering that continent. If that continental ice were to melt into the ocean, it would cause global sea levels to rise by 17 feet. Even a more modest rise would devastate hundreds of coastal cities.
- Melting ice in the Arctic and elsewhere may surface ancient pathogens for which modern humans lack immunity.
- War, famine, and climate disruption have resulted in a record number of refugees and displaced people — mostly in places with rapid population growth.
- A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences refers to loss of wildlife as “biological annihilation” and a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization.”
Population is the “connection” between these and so many other seemingly disparate stories. It took our species about 170,000 years to reach one billion. Now we add an additional billion humans to our beleaguered planet every dozen years. Anyone who thinks this simple truth does not carry enormous consequences needs to look at the facts.
Ironically, the very same mental and physical tools that enabled our species to survive and thrive now threaten the planet. It’s possible for a dominant species to be too dominant and too prolific. When it comes to fragile ecosystems, we’re using sledgehammers to perform microsurgery.
I’m regularly asked when we’ll reach a “tipping point.” The fact is that we’re already past the point of “no return.” At current rates of species extinction, thousands will disappear forever no matter how hard we work.
But this planet is not a lost cause. The three million young people we reach each year are learning about what works and what they can do. We do our best to inspire them, but the truth is that they inspire us to press harder every single day.
We’re able to do this vital work thanks to 40,000 members who support Population Connection. We neither seek nor accept any governmental support. We’re a proudly independent voice that will keep telling the truth day-in and day-out, as best we understand it.
Will we succeed? Stay tuned. And, please, stay involved.
A Cautionary Note
Lisa Shannon minces no words in her article in explicitly depicting the nightmarish reality of daily existence for many women in the poorest places on Earth. To call it disturbing is a vast understatement. Yet failing to report it would be a disservice to our mission and to our members who expect us to provide the unvarnished truth.
The contrast between Trump’s preening puffery and the real world impact of his devastating policies couldn’t be more striking. While Donald Trump did not create the horrific conditions Lisa describes, he is seeking to eliminate the 0.01 percent of the federal budget that has been invested in international family planning. It is callous, cruel, and counterproductive.