By Sierra Club volunteer Ramona Rex
This October the earth’s population hit 7 billion, with one billion people added to the planet since 1999. Global population was only 1.6 billion at the beginning of the 20th century, and climbed to 6.1 billion by the year 2000. The Oregon Chapter hosted a program Thursday evening December 8th focused on the impact this growing number of people has on the planet, “7 billion: It’s Time to Talk”. The event featured Mr. John Seager, President of Population Connection, and 2 films; “Mother: Caring for 7 Billion” and “Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth”.
Rather than a gloom and doom handwringing session, the evening provided information about how we can meet the challenges presented by more people on the planet. There are 3 things that everyone should know about the population issue, according to Mr. Seager. Firstly, we know how to address population growth; contraception works. In fact, John pointed out that contraception is one of the most significant technological discoveries of the 20th century, granting women the opportunity to control their fertility. Contraception is cost effective as compared to other technological ‘fixes’ proposed to halt environmental degradation. Finally, women especially want to control the trajectory of their lives by using contraception to plan when and how many children they have. Women thus gain greater opportunities for education and career development, and most often choose on their own to limit their family size.
Both films reinforce Mr. Seager’s core message of improving access to contraception worldwide and empowering women, while at the same time challenge the notion of endless economic growth and consumption in the industrialized nations. “Mother: Caring for 7 billion” features Beth, a child rights activist, as she meets with Zinet, a young woman from a large family in Ethiopia. Zinet cares for her HIV infected niece, milks goats, helps care for her family, and attends university classes. Zinet found the courage to persuade her father to allow her to study, rather than enter into marriage at an early age. “Growthbusters: Hooked on Growth” follows Dave Gardner, an anti-growth activist in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as he reviews the negative environmental impact of unending economic growth and advocates for an alternative way of living.
The Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program’s mission is to educate Club members and the general public on the benefits of educating girls, empowering women, and reducing consumption. As we provide access to education, economic opportunity and reproductive health care to women around the globe, we also gain the best chance of stabilizing human population, and protecting the environment worldwide.
Mother: Caring for the 7 Billion
GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth