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: http://www.populationaction.org/
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?