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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Columns

Earth, 7 billion and counting


As of this month, the Earth is supporting 7 billion people. Some are well-off, most are hungry, but all of them should be concerned about overpopulation. At our current procreation rate, your children’s children will have over 244 billion neighbors by the year 2150. With the American consumption of raw materials rising 17-fold every year, we alone can attest that it will be a problem. And with over one third of the Earth’s current population stemming from pregnancies that were either unwanted or ill advised, it’s safe to say that the solution to this predicament lies largely in how we educate ourselves about it. The current methods aren’t working.

On paper, a revamping of pre-high school and elementary sexual education isn’t the most attractive political prospect, but time is demonstrating that it will be a necessary one. With younger generations watching the practices of their elders, and the commercialization of promiscuity resulting in booming sales, it should be no surprise that birthrates in America are showing little give in their rapidity. Having established that talking won’t lead to less doing, the least we can do is invest in multifaceted information sources, so that these reproductive extracurriculars will be done in manners both safe and sensible for all parties involved.

But the average Houstonian doesn’t have time for this. It’s too common and un-ironic for any serious consideration. Humor is sometimes the best outlet to discuss difficult situations, so here are some more humorous alternatives to ending overpopulation. Hopefully they will make you laugh, reflect and then realize that it is imperative that we find a true solution.

1.    Adopt an animal. And, that doesn’t mean “Cody” the mongrel, or “Avery” the off-white tabby. A reindeer or chimpanzee in the family den would be just the thing to shed some perspective. Teenage Johnny would hardly have time to further his relationships with “Jared” the mongoose scratching at the bedroom door. And with the funds required to install a doggy door for their Bengal tiger, the Jeffersons wouldn’t even consider giving little Isaiah a baby sister.

2.    Invest in Domestic Mechatronics. 125 million children will be born this year, and by the time that group is ready to start school, another 625 million will have followed. It’s an output that’s bound to make for some tired couples. Why not spend that time and energy on gifts that give back? As a nation that prides itself on Capitalism, which prides itself on efficiency, animatronic children would be the next logical step. If it makes you feel better, you could even give them real names

3.    Mars. We’re running out of room. A renewed interest in the final frontier would be just the thing to put environmentalists at ease. Historically, colonization has always been the preferred route of expanding our horizons, and an expansion to an environment whose resources and territories have yet to have been defiled, overdubbed, or commercialized could be just the incentive we need to slow down.

All jesting aside, whatever angle you approach it from, our planet’s increasing population is no joke. Even if we were to sustain our current rate, Earth will be home to at least 296 billion individuals within the next 150 years. What makes the issue an even more dangerous is that it’s an unstable one, and no amount of anticipation will tell us exactly how our environment will react to the stress. We only had one planet. If we intend to keep it habitable for the next few generations, we’ll have to begin treating it as fragile as it truly is.

That said, if common sense doesn’t work out, don’t hesitate to make your shuttle reservations.

Bryan Washington is a sociology freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


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