Over the last 100 years or so there has been over population, but it is not as grave a threat as over consumption is. The world can support a population of up to 10 billion people, the current being about 6 billion people. So over population is not such a big problem. However, the human population is using up the world’s resources much faster than they can be replenished.
This has caused severe depletion in many sectors, the most important being oil. Every country wants to develop so they have to find cheap modes of gaining lots of profit, which brings into play crude oil. Crude oil is an extremely cheap way of fuelling a country’s economy. However the issue of over consumption is mostly related to developed nations. However some developing nations pose a serious threat to the world’s resources as they become more and more developed. This is of course China.
One of the major pessimists to date is Lester Brown, who talks about the problems China will create when it comes out of poverty. The fact that almost all pessimists put forward is that all developing nations want to become like developed nations. The people of developing nations want to earn as much money as the developed nations. They want to gain more material possessions.
Looking at China this will pose a grave problem. Since China has such a big population, about 1,313,973,713, when these people become fully developed then they will demand a lot more. At its current rate with a lot of people still in poverty, China is the second biggest consumer after the USA (about 20 million barrels a day) in oil, about 6.5 million barrels a day. As is well known, crude oil is used for practically everything in our lives starting from giving us electricity to providing us with the latest mp3 player (plastic).
So this usage will increase as the Chinese demand more electronic goods, more clothes, more cars and other things. Now as can be seen from the graph above that the world’s consumption (blue line) of crude oil rapidly shot up within the last 30 years, since the production of new technology such as computers. As said earlier producing plastics uses a lot of crude oil. Since many electronics use a lot plastics such as the casing on every electronic is plastic, cars are partly made of plastic and now buildings such as the Millennium Dome, which is entirely made of plastic.
Looking at a local area such as the place we live in is Portugal, it can be seen that every family consumes a lot of resources and consumes resources which can be put to better use thus reducing consumption rate. If seen every family in Portugal at least owns 2 cars. A family does not need two cars. This consumes a lot of petrol, which creates a lot of pollution as well. The children in the family have more electronics than are needed. Two very good examples are the ipod from Microsoft and the Playstation console from Sony. Microsoft has been constantly upgrading the ipod and bringing out a better and newer version.
Children who already own an ipod go ahead and buy another one. So in total the children have lots of ipods of which they use one and discard the other 2 because they are an older version. The playstation console has a similar story. This is a waste of plastic and energy, as energy was needed to make that particular electronic equipment. The unbelievable thing is that people who don’t have proper houses to live in have the newest cars at their doorstep, which is quite perplexing, but then this brings us to credit cards. The energy consumption is the highest in developed nations as they have the consumer goods to sell and the people have money to buy them so energy waste.
Nowadays banks give out credits so people buy lots of credit cards and use them to buy off the things they like, but don’t actually need. It is all to do with advertisement. A salesperson will say buy one and get one at a lower price and the customer will say that it is a good bargain and will buy it. However they needed only one and not two. This way the earth’s resources are depleted at a very fast rate because people do not stop to think about what they need and how much they need. They are living beyond their means. The best example as mentioned earlier is crude oil. Below is a graph that shows the rise in plastic production in the US (most developed country in the world).
As can be seen from graph that the plastic production really shot up, around the 1970s. From the table it can be seen that there was a significant jump in plastic production. The highest increases were in housing, consumer products and packaging. Increase in plastic consumption in terms of housing is because nowadays children want a separate home by the time they become of legal age. People want to have a holiday house with all the appliances, insulation, heaters, though they go and live there once a year. To run that house so that it doesn’t become dirty and is useful, a lot of energy is required, which is a waste of energy. Plus a lot of the construction is that of plastic such as the plumbing. This is not one person doing it there are many people in the world who are doing this.
Talking about holiday houses, holidays are important factor where a lot of plastic is used especially in the packaging of the gifts. Wrapping gifts maybe a good thing, but keeping in mind over consumption there is a lot of waste of those wrappings which are made of plastic. If the holidays were looked at properly nowadays they have become commercialized. People are buying and buying so that they can impress somebody or are not looked down upon by their relatives. There is no proper holiday spirit. Take Christmas for example. Christmas was a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but nowadays it is all about the gifts, the clothes, which are really unnecessary. If we took a look in a person’s wardrobe most probably they don’t use half the clothes there. It is just a way of showing off their status that they have more stuff than others.
Since consumer products have been mentioned earlier there is nothing much else to say about them except that people wants the latest electronic item all the time. This is because they do not want to be out of fashion. They think they are ‘cool’ if they have the latest item. Now because of these selfish needs the worlds resources, not only oil, are running out at great speeds. It is said that within the next century most of the earth’s resources will have been finished or depleted to an extent where it will be impossible to replace them.
Now because of these over consumptions our environment is in great danger due to the increased level of carbon dioxide emissions. 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income nations account for over 50% of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to only 3% for the financially poorest fifth. There is acid rain, the ice caps melting which are endangering human existence also. This is all due to the selfishness of humans. There was this survey carried out in the US and the results said that the people in the US are less happy if not as much as they were in the 1950s when there were no VCDs, DVDs, computers, electronic games, mp3 players. This just shows that people are not happy even when they have more than they had before they just want, and want. No matter the amount, it will never satisfy them.
All that can be said is that in order to save the earth’s environment, the people on earth and the earth itself the consumption rate has to decrease by a lot or alternative sources of energy need to come in to play. The alternative energy sources will replace the energy but not the production of plastic. For this to happen, information should be spread around about over consumption. This can be done through political elections or enacting new laws. Though enacting new laws will be a problem since many citizens will go against it. The best option is to teach the new generation about these problems from an early start so that they are not influenced by these attractive electronics and go ahead and start consuming at fast rates. People are only in trouble because of credit cards. They spend their entire life time paying off debts because they wanted to have all the latest gadgets and more possessions.
So a permanent solution would be teach the students right through school about these problems, it is happening but more of it should take place, or else the future generation will blame us and the human population will not last much longer.