Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

The Human Population Factor September 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — inagais @ 4:29 am

The American National Park system advertises America’s appreciation for natural beauty and preservation to the world, while giving the domestic population the impression that we have plenty of space and resources. This, image of America has also created, or at least supported, the American consumer culture that relies on plentiful products and an excess of consumption. For many Americans, the idea of reducing our consumption is difficult to swallow and seems unnecessary; and the idea of population control is just downright repulsive and extremist.

With the population set to push 9 billion by 2050 our resources are becoming increasingly strained. With this in mind, I find it interesting that most serious discussion in the natural resource law world is placed upon conserving or managing the numbers of flora and fauna on our planet, while the management of our own population is pushed to the side.

I am not proposing we hunt each other to thin out the population, and I am not going to propose eugenics. However, I do believe that this issue could be something that we will have to face in our lifetime as law scholars. For example, for those concerned with human rights and equal living standards around the world, an increase in population (like the one we are about to witness) could make it impossible to facilitate idealistic living standards, especially if we are to take the American standard of living and consumption as the ideal.

So what do we do? Do we wait and see where the population goes and wait for a “breaking point” to occur so that we are forced to take extreme action? Or, instead, do we institute small constitutionally valid programs now to curb population growth, including family planning and birth control?

One organization that is already doing a lot of work on this very issue is Population Action International. I highly recommend taking a look at their website where you can download a variety of free reports and publications. The web address is:

In the meantime, what do you all think? Is this a ridiculous concern? Is this something that countries like China should be concerned about, but America should not be? Should Americans worry about this at all?


One Response to “The Human Population Factor”

  1. vneroni Says:

    I would have to agree that this is an important issue that has been largely ignored by many nations. At the same time, it is an issue that affects every nation in the world at this point, directly or indirectly. Even if a nation is not itself overpopulated, it can be affected by conflict over resources occurring in other parts of the world due to the integration of the global economic system. The population issue comes up on the political arena under the guise of immigration issues – immigration caused by overpopulation and conflict in other parts of the world. However, the underlying cause (a growing population) is usually not mentioned. Understandably, even mentioning overpopulation as a problem either in your own country or abroad would be considered political suicide, at least in the United States, but there has to be a way to bring it up into the public eye, since the issue needs to be addressed. Perhaps a carefully planned family planning and contraception program that is tactfully presented to the public could be a good answer. The difficulty is in bringing it up, and in the fact that it is a global problem, and as such the cooperation of many nations would be needed to address it effectively.

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