Why We Must Colonize Planets
Global Issue: Population
Human population grows and will continue to grow, if fertility will not go down. The United Nations claim population as one of the global issues of our time and offer their calculations on future population for studies and reuse. Analyzing this data results in three main routes population could take in the future, shown in figure 2.
Possible routes for population on earth after 2020
1. Population will grow
Population will just grow, until the limited resources of nature are consumed, and people can’t live on the now fully occupied earth anymore. The United Nations assume that in worst case population will grow to 15,6 billion people until 2100. Fertility would enhance population as shown on the right side in figure 3.
2. Population will decrease
At first sight it seems like the best result. Population will get to a peak sooner than 2100 and with less than 10 billion people. With that the impact on climate change would be less significant. But fertility is a problematic factor in this scenario. To achieve a smaller population, fertility rates must go down. If the fertility will be at one child per woman (left side figure 3) and will not increase at any time, the existence of humankind would be endangered.
3. Population will stagnate
With the data sources of UN, a median of predictable developments can be calculated. With that the UN assumes that the population on earth will grow to almost 11 billion by 2100 and will finally stagnate. If population will stagnate, fertility will most likely have the form of the middle schema of figure 3.
Figure 3 (From left to right) Fertility: 1, 2, 3
Factors Influencing Population
Different factors do influence the growth of population, the most important ones are longevity and fertility.
With fighting against poverty, sickness and other threats endangering humans in their life, mortality is going down and in average people are getting older. This a factor which increases population. It is not a threat yet, but if it would be, people would have to be eliminated in old age. Also, Hans Rosling analyzing population data, states, that longevity would in short-range cause only 1 billion of the probably 11 billion humans living on earth by 2100. Regulations should be done with controlling a different influencer. (Hans Rosling, 2015)
Fertility is a bigger threat.
Compared to 1990, where the global fertility rate was at 3.44, the rate 2020 at 2.47 seems quite low, but it is high enough to increase population in the coming years, if combined with the estimation of figure 3 (figure 4).
Figure 4 Global fertility (United Nations)
A better understanding of this rate can be set by splitting fertility rates and population for all continents as shown in figure 5. This splitting shows that fertility of the western countries is below 2 and fertility in Africa is above 4.
Figure 5 Fertility combined with population (United Nations)
Not all countries display the same fertility and because of that the UN analyzed the differences between these countries to get to know which factors are causing that diversity. Concluding that countries with a weaker education, with less empowered woman, no wealth etc. are most likely to show a high number in fertility. All these factors corelate with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the UN did elaborate. (United Nations)
Sustainable Development Goals
The SDGs are addressing the global challenges of the world, which if fulfilled would achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The UN states, it is important to achieve these goals by 2030. The list beneath shows all of them. Although self-explaining, the UN is highlighting that all these goals are interconnected and will rise together.
In some of these points the influence on fertility is not obvious. But the UN sees that the highest increase of population, caused by high fertility rates, is found currently in Sub-Saharan Africa where the SDGs 1, 3 and 5 aren’t developed yet. Also, the 47 least developed countries, struggling with SDGs 3, 4 and 8, have a high fertility. Another issue is that many countries with a high level of maternal mortality corelate with a need of family planning. In these countries’ fertility is high and the Sustainable Development Goals 5, 4, 3, 8 and 16 must be worked on. Many SDGs regarding longevity also come to action. Since more people get older the need of resources is higher. UN states an almost global need of working on SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 16. The connection of SDGs to population could go on but the narrated ones display the key findings of the UN. (United Nations, p. 37)
International Conference on Population and Development
Because of the urgent need of actions to get population in control, 179 governments united from 5th to 13th September 1994 in Cairo to create a “Programme of Action”. This program sets actions governments must accomplish in their countries. Reading the statements of action there is no explicit description in how they should be executed. The program is rather based on statements and sets a basement for actions. How a government will execute the called action behooves to its control.
With holding in mind that free choice of family planning is a human right, the main aspect of that program is to integrate the 17 SDGs into each country of the world. So, each government can create their individual plans of getting fertility rates under control. (United Nations)
How Fertility Changed Over Time / Different Perspective
As shown in figure 4, the global fertility rate decreased from 1990 to 2020, so it could be concluded that some of the actions manifested 1994 in Cairo have been effective. But was it just the humanitarian actions which helped the world to lower fertility?
"It was a privilege of the rich and educated mothers to have a big family"
If we look at China, known as the country with the world’s highest population, before 1970 bigger families often occurred in rich and educated households.
|Size of farm (mu)||1-10||11-20||21-30||31-40||41-50||51-100||100+||Average||Owners||Part-Owners||Tenants|
|Children aged 1-10 years||0.6||0.8||0.9||1.3||1.4||1.9||3.2||1.1||1.3||0.9||0.6|
Table 1 Children dependend on farm size. Based on a survey with 400 farms. (Gamble et al., 1954)
|Class||Total||Living||Dead||Number of Mothers|
Table 2 Children in urban areas. Based on survey of 1438 married urban women of 40 years and older, 1929-31. (Lamson, 1935)
The poor farmers often had only one or two children as shown in tables 1 and 2. It was a privilege of the rich and educated mothers to have a big family, which is standing contrary with the statements of the UN, that poor and uneducated people give birth to more kids. The government of China knew that their population is growing rapidly, so they calculated the costs and concluded that the governmental investments into all the newborns would be too high, that this would make the return of investment satisfying. Having this in mind they started a two-child-policy. They spread slogans into the nation which said: One child is enough, two are good and three are too many. Resulting in lesser newborn children after 1970. But that was not enough, the household calculation was still not positive enough. They started a one-child-policy and forced the nation to get only one child per family and achieved to decrease the growth of population as shown in figure 6. (Croll, 1985)
Figure 6 Population growth in China (United Nations)
A different perspective shows Germany as one of the most developed countries in the world. The fertility in this country fluctuates since 1975 between 1.6 and 1.2 children per woman as shown in figure 7. The Federal Agency for Civic Education states that these fertility rates are even too low to sustain a society. This implies that Germany must take actions to increase fertility. First the German government stated, that having more direct influence on family planning is working against the human right of free family planning. But after time and without seeing improvements, the family policy of Germany improved the financial state of families by improving childcare, child benefits, parental leave (also for the man) and other support. But all that did not increase fertility as much as expected. Surveys concluded that it is more a cultural thinking than a financial issue to have more children. People had an ideal number of children in their mind and would not change it because of policies or financial support. (Bujard, 2015)
Figure 7 Fertility in Germany (United Nations)
These two examples show that changing fertility rates is not only a matter of education, finances or other environmental influences, it is more the cultural thinking that must be changed. There are studies defining indicators which could foresee if a couple will have many children or not but while researching for this article there is no official statement found which is indicating that governments are using these factors to manipulate their citizen in family planning. (Breshers, 1967)
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