The Earth’s Population Is Reaching New Heights. Are We Prepared for the Consequences?

The Earth’s Population Is Reaching New Heights. Are We Prepared for the Consequences?

In the year 2000, the population of earth was 6.11 billion people.

According to the US Census Bureau’s World Population Clock, that number is now 7.49 billion.

The UN anticipates world population to increase to just shy of 10 billion people by the year 2050.

Without any context, those numbers are just that, numbers.

However, framed against the backdrop of earth’s finite resources and whether the planet can sustain a species that consumes faster than it can replenish, it’s clear why overpopulation is a growing concern for many.

But is overpopulation, with the many other challenges we face every day, really something that humans should worry over?

We’ve made it this long, so why wouldn’t we be able to continue to stretch the resources and technology available to accommodate our growth.

To adequately answer that question, let’s explore where this rapid rise in population originated, the potential impact to our planet, and ultimately if the earth can sustain us.

The Population Goes Boom

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In broad terms, overpopulation relates to whether our planet is capable of sustaining humans as our numbers increase and resources decrease. Overpopulation though can also occur at a micro level.

Individual countries can experience overpopulation, and many developing areas face the hardships that come with this crisis more so than developed nations.

Make no mistake though, whether it’s just one individual or 1 billion or a modern country or one that remains underdeveloped, we all need the optimal conditions that earth provides to survive.

How did we get to this point of stretching our only home so thin? There are several factors.

Birth Rate Versus Death Rate

First and foremost, the population of earth is a simple numbers game.

Let’s go back to the US Census clock and take a look at US numbers. In our country, there is a birth every 8 seconds. Every 12 seconds a death occurs. Not accounting for immigration, that means we are adding 2½ people every minute to the populace.

On a global scale, the numbers are higher. Four births each second versus two deaths, means 30 people are added to the world’s population every minute.

Though global births have seen a decline over the past several decades, they continue to outpace deaths at a steady rate.

Modern Medicine, Longer Life

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Medical technology is arguably the most significant contributor to the increase in human life spans. In 1900, the average lifespan of a person from the US was 47 years. In the year 2000, it was 77.

From the eradication of diseases that once consumed large swaths of people to developing vaccines and drugs that treated countless other ailments, medicine has been the primary driver in prolonging life.

Beyond that, technology has also pushed fertility rates (while also reducing maternal mortality) to greater numbers, again with medicines that benefit women who once we unable to conceive.

Poverty and Immigration

Both poverty and immigration are hot-button issues in almost every corner of the world. Though the fervor and nature of the conversation of each vary from place to place, both problems contribute to overpopulation.

With poverty, infant mortality rates tend to be higher among low-income families, especially in undeveloped countries. In this environment, large families would emerge from the necessity of having enough able bodies to do the work necessary for survival.

Also, those that live in poverty in developing nations lack education and are often illiterate. They do not grasp the concepts of family planning or sex education and the strain that large numbers of people put on resources and the related consequences.

Immigration, for its part, is often a concern for the resources for developed nations. To escape the hardships of their native countries, immigrants will seek out refuge in places that can best support their needs.

Hospitals, schools, and jobs are all beacons to draw those looking for a better life. The inevitable downside though is the stress placed on the infrastructure of a country. Higher demand for resources will in most cases lead to a shortage of those same needs.

An Exhausted Planet

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Arguably the most significant impact to an area that is overpopulated, whether its a city, country or the planet as a whole, is the potential drain on resources.

It’s hard to refute against the reality that the more of us there are, the more resources we consume and the less there is to go around. This creates several issues that can put many at risk in ways that might not immediately be clear.

Scarcity of Water

We could fill this section with any number of strained natural resources that prove vital to everyday life across the globe.

Oil, natural gas, or other earth elements that play a role in the systems we take for granted every day. However, the one resource that warrants the most attention is water.

More specifically, freshwater.

The earth, of course, is awash in water. The problem, however, is that of the 70% of the water that covers our planet, only 2.5% of it is fresh. To complicate the numbers even further, just 1.7% of the freshwater total is easily accessible.

The scarcity of fresh water only increases once you look at the developing world. Countries such as India are already facing critical shortages against a backdrop of a booming population.

According to one estimate from the World Health Organization, over 2 billion people cannot easily access safe drinking water. Another 4.5 billion, or more than half of the world’s population does not have what developed nations would consider acceptable sanitation.

Ecological Harm

Beyond the depletion of natural resources such as fresh water, overpopulation can also inflict direct physical harm to ecosystems spread across the globe. Even if you sidestep the debate on whether or not climate change is real, there is no escaping the damage humans have done to the environment.

Air and water pollution from automobiles and factories.

Harm to sensitive ecosystems and food supply through disasters such as oil spills.

Deforestation and hunting food sources to dangerously low levels.

Stripping or polluting the environment for our immediate needs will also hasten the potential environmental catastrophes that future generations will face.

Conflict

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Imagine yourself jammed into an elevator with a dozen or so other individuals. Your first, and in some cases only instinct, is to stake your claim to what little space you have.

Now picture the earth as one big elevator, with 7.5 billion of us all fighting for a spot.

Whereas we fought wars and conflicts of the past over ideals or to protect from aggression, future struggles will be over resources and basic tenets like oil, water, and fertile lands.

A 2013 World Bank report estimated that over 750 million people lived beneath the $1.90 a day international poverty line. In many parts of the world, the struggle to feed a family, find work or tend a viable farm, or access a decent water source may drive many to desperate measures and in turn, inciting violent conflicts. This is a real possibility even in developed nations.

Can the Earth Sustain More of Us?

The answer, unfortunately, is not a straightforward as one would hope.

According to a 2012 report commissioned by the UN, encompassing 65 different estimates, Earth’s human capacity could vary anywhere from 2 billion people to upwards of 1 trillion. Below is a quick recap of the vast disparities of the individual studies:

  • 6 studies estimated 2 billion
  • 7 studies estimated 4 billion
  • 20 studies estimated 8 billion
  • 14 studies estimated 16 billion
  • 6 studies estimated 32 billion
  • 7 studies estimated 64 billion
  • 2 studies estimated 128 billion
  • 1 study estimated 256 billion
  • 1 study estimated 512 billion
  • 1 study estimated 1 trillion

Although a clear majority puts the Earth’s sustainable carrying capacity at 8 billion, a total we will quickly exceed, the real takeaway is that the exact number is difficult to know.

These studies, while aiming to measure the same thing, take different approaches and focus on variable factors to reach their conclusions.

As the UN report also points out, there are certain factors about the earth that we do not yet understand.

How long until the release of CO2 into the atmosphere reaches a tipping point?

What is the temperature at which the Arctic ice sheets ultimately fail?

Just how much food, medicine, water, and other basic necessities will future humans need to survive reasonably?

All vital questions. All of them without clear answers.

Can We Lighten the Load?

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Let’s return to our original question and if the global issue of overpopulation is a concern for now.

As one of the few global problems that have the potential to impact every human on earth, understanding overpopulation and then working to ease the stress on our planet is a necessary undertaking.

Though we cannot ethically stem the population increases immediately, small steps can put us down the right path to ensuring a reasonable population level and sustainable earth.

Education, particularly in developing countries, will help people understand the consequences of overpopulation. We must also place a heavy emphasis on women’s empowerment, family planning, and sex education.

In addition, smarter and more efficient use of our resources is a must. This is especially true in developed nations where resource use far outweighs the actual need. The goal is that our consumption doesn’t outpace replenishment.

So yes, we do need to concern ourselves with finding a sustainable balance between our growth, what we need to survive, and the interaction we have with our planet.

If we don’t, the consequences could be dire.

If we do, then the earth will be ours to call home for many more years to come.

What Do You Know About Clean Water?

What Do You Know About Clean Water?

What we do not know can hurt us badly…or help us immensely. We know things about life and how to live. We are also aware of things we do not know, but would like to know. Finally, we also do not know what it is we do not know; and therein lies the challenge for each of us. What do you know about clean water?

For those who live in rural areas as subsistence farmers in Africa, Latin America, or around the world, life is measured in terms of the seasons, adequate rainfall, and political stability. Life’s blessings lie in the numerous relationships that exist among family and community. For the world’s poorest of the poor, life is fairly straight forward; food, shelter, and some degree of health. That health is almost always measured in terms of clean and safe water. In the cities we find increasing numbers of people purchasing packaged water. Yet even here the standardization and consistency of clean water is woefully lacking.

There have been an increasing number of studies showing that up to eighty percent of illness and hospitalizations in the emerging economies are directly related to contaminated water. Millions of people still source their water from open wells, lakes, rivers, ponds, and unclean storage tanks. The question for us becomes how we can be a sustainable solution without creating more dependency in the supply and delivery of water filter systems.

One exciting development has been finding a filter better in quality and characteristics and at a lower price than what we have ever been able to provide before. It is called the Village water filter. You can learn more from their website: www.villagewaterfilters.org

A couple years ago I returned from a trip to Belize. Six months later one of the Rotarians I had met on that trip phoned me from Colorado. He asked, “Do you remember the question I asked you when we met and the answer you gave me?” I had no idea, thinking I must have really stuck my foot in my mouth. He said, “I really liked your answer and I want to help you achieve your vision!” He was a retired dentist and he went to work developing a hollow fiber membrane water filter that requires no electricity, no replacement parts, and no chemicals, at over 50% less than what we had been paying. Today, we can bring clean and safe water to more people at less cost than ever before. This happened not because we knew about how to do it or even tried to invent something new but because someone else had an idea, a passion, and a collaborative spirit. We thank God for that person and every person like him who gives us a donation to bring this product to the least, lost, and lonely, to those who are the champions making the last mile delivery, for those of you who speak for those who do not have a voice, and for you who read these emails and just lift a prayer, say a word of encouragement, and support Business Connect. We have an amazing team with us and surrounding us.

Until next time,

Lou Haveman and the Business Connect Team

Job Creation and Energy Savings through a Transition to Modern Off-grid Lighting

Job Creation and Energy Savings through a Transition to Modern Off-grid Lighting

Why are job creation and access to clean energy so important to us here at Business Connect?

 

Protable Solar Generator – 250whrA market transformation from inefficient and polluting fuel-based lighting to solar-LED systems is well underway across the developing world, but the extent of net job creation has not previously been defined. An article written by Evan Mills from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California/Berkeley, Job Creation and Energy Savings through a Transition to Modern Off-grid Lighting, finds that current worldwide employment associated with fuel-based lighting represents approximately 150,000 jobs.

New jobs will accompany the replacement technologies. A survey of major solar-LED lighting companies finds that 38 such jobs are created for each 10,000 people living off-grid for whom stand-alone solar-LED lights are suitable. Applying this metric, the number of new jobs already created from the current uptake of solar-LED lighting has matched that of fuel-based lighting and foreshadows the potential creation of 2 million new jobs to fully serve the 112 million households globally that currently lack electricity access, are unlikely to be connected to the major grid, micro-grids, or are able to afford more extensive solar systems.

A likely greater number of additional jobs and employment income will be indirectly created or preserved via indirect employment, re-spending of energy savings, conservation of foreign exchange, enhanced literacy, and improved working conditions. In contrast, central grid expansion is unlikely to provide any net increase in jobs. The case of solar-LED lighting demonstrates that policymakers have tools to increase the pace of in-country job creation in the context of sustainable development, while minimizing job displacement, and improving the quality of employment. These tools include stimuli for domestic manufacturing or assembly of products; supporting peripheral businesses and services, such as training, recycling, financing, and impact assessment; and removing market barriers that slow the uptake of emerging technologies.

This might be more information than you need to know but it solidifies the reasons why we are focusing on creating employment opportunities in the developing world through our robust distribution network. It is a win-win situation in our eyes, more jobs and more clean resources that will help children that have to now study by a toxic kerosene lantern. Access to solar lighting will allow women to save needless hours spent gathering firewood — and spend those hours on opportunities for themselves and their families.

So what can you do about this? We’re glad you asked! Join our team, sponsor a student or entrepreneur, help us fundraise or make a tax-deductible donation through our partnership with Partners Worldwide. We need you as a Champion today and tomorrow for a better, cleaner world.

#CreatingHope

Take Action. Inspire Change. #MandelaDay

Take Action. Inspire Change. #MandelaDay

Take Action. Inspire Change.

 

Water filter training in Maratane Refugee Camp3Today is the Nelson Mandela International Day, launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Mandela made for the next generation to create change and take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.

It is more than a celebration of his life, it is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.

The campaign call to action is simple: Take Action. Inspire Change. Make every day a Mandela Day and celebrate the potential that each individual has to transform the world. We are inspired by the example that Madiba has set for us: each of us taking responsibility for ourselves and acting on the responsibility we have to others.

To become part of the Mandela Day movement, all that is required is an action that helps change the lives of people for the better. To ensure that their actions have lasting benefits, they should with and within communities, always strive to leave behind not only physical changes but also a sense of empowerment, helping to build pride amongst those communities so that they can take charge of their destinies and change their circumstances. The cumulative actions of people, even if it is one small step at a time, can become a transformative momentum.

You can help us here at Business Connect celebrate Mandela Day by sponsoring an entrepreneur. For $300, we will help a budding entrepreneur by providing a basic inventory of clean resources that is needed to start a new business as well as the training required by our in-country representative. You can choose whether you would like to help a student, woman or a man trying to create a better life for his family. You can even choose the country you would like to help.

If you don’t think you can make a difference in the lives of others, contact us. We will share with you our experiences and tell you otherwise. Remember, it just takes one person to make a difference and start the ball rolling to effect change in the lives of others. Just like Nelson Mandela did.

Partnerships Working Towards A Better World

Partnerships Working Towards A Better World

When Business Connect exhibited at the Star-TIDES Annual Technology Demonstration in Washington, D.C. last month, we found ourselves surrounded by businesses and organizations who were there for the same purpose – Sharing To Accelerate Research and Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support – which just so happens to be their acronym.  A research effort that promotes sustainable support to stressed populations – post-war, post-disaster, or impoverished, Star-TIDES uses public-private partnerships and “whole-of-government” approaches to encourage unity of action among diverse organizations where there is no unity of command, and facilitates both inter-agency and international engagement.

Needless to say, we found ourselves in like company with businesses promoting sustainable innovations and solutions to help the developing world while we displayed some of the most affordable inventions for those living in extreme poverty situations. Our Vice President of Business Development, Jereme Lambert, met the folks from Emerald Planet who inquired about our business model and solutions to help bring an end to global poverty and soon our CEO and Founder, Lou Haveman, was featured as a guest this past Sunday on the Emerald Planet show.

We are humbled to play our part in making a difference in the world together; bringing clean resources to those who need them the most. We hope you enjoy this video and learn more about how inter-agency partnerships are changing the way we do business. #CreatingHopeThroughBusiness

 

Help Us Achieve Goal 11: Create Sustainable Cities and Communities

Help Us Achieve Goal 11: Create Sustainable Cities and Communities

GGPoster-11SustainableCities1As we continue to share the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations, we need to ask. How do you think we can create more sustainable cities and communities to achieve Goal 11?

The challenge behind Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 11 — make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable — is that it affects a multitude of levels. The long list of requirements include:

  • ensuring access for all to safe and affordable housing;
  • meeting people’s needs for basic services including energy and water;
  • developing sustainable public transport systems;
  • creating a built environment that can minimize the impacts of natural disasters; and
  • reducing the adverse environmental impact of cities by investing in renewable energy, managing scarce resources, and improving waste and recycling systems.

Almost half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and by 2050 that is projected to increase to over 70 percent. Research from the London School of Economics (PDF)  shows us that cities currently make up 2 percent of the world’s surface area — but produce 70 percent of the global economic output.

According to UN Women, the world today is urbanizing at rates unprecedented in history. For many men and women, the chance to move to a city is a chance for a better life—a larger income, more interesting employment, a more comfortable residence and ready access to modern amenities. Yet cities are also places of deep inequality and despair. New migrants, many of them women, can end up in overbuilt slums, poorly connected to public transport or essential services such as clean water. Life becomes dangerous and unhealthy, with many obstacles to gaining a secure foothold in the urban economy.

For women, gender discrimination magnifies and adds to the risks. Not being able to take a bus to a clinic to deliver a child can result in permanent disability or death. In general, natural disasters kill more women than men and kill women at a younger age than men. If she survives a disaster such as a flood or earthquake, a woman will likely have fewer options to recover.

At Business Connect, we believe that to create more sustainable communities, we need to provide more business opportunities — focusing on those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid or the world’s most under-resourced people.  And by providing access to basic essential services, such as clean water and light, we hope to move quickly to help the world achieve this goal. We are collaborating with Partners Worldwide to accept donations that will fund the start-up costs for a new business owner — providing a basic assortment of products for them to sell within their own communities. With the right training and resources, we hope to empower more  women to open up their own sustainable business. too. Want to help? Contact us for details!

#CreatingHope

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