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There is no denying that there are A LOT of people on this sphere we call Earth. And the number keeps growing. There are now over 7.1billion people living on this planet (there is at least one website that is dedicated to keep a running count of the world population).

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

The problem is we only have one planet. One planet that is suppose to supply our food, water, shelter, and whatever else we need; because, believe it or not, the milk and eggs don’t just appear magically on the shelves of Wal-Mart. 7 billion plus people are a lot of mouths to feed, not to mention housing, drinking water, clothing, etc.

The Earth is made up of complex, interconnected ecosystems, forming the biosphere. Ecosystems provide services to the organisms that call them home; providing food and water, regulating floods and other natural disasters, maintaining soil stability and fertility, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, and cultural services such as recreation and spiritual benefits. Many factors contribute to the degradation of ecosystems and there failure to provide the services that we, as organisms that interact with various ecosystems, rely on. Being human, and therefor being in the “dominant” position of life on earth, are not above nature, no matter what we’ve done to try and make it so. All of our efforts to make nature our bitch (sorry for my French) it could only last for so long before it came back to bite us in the ass; which it is doing, by the way.

The other thing about ecosystems, they have a carrying capacity. This means that they can only support the lives of so many organisms before things start to fall apart (usually involving mass die-offs because of a loss of resources until the ecosystem recovers enough to allow the population to grow again).

So, the question for everyone, especially policy makers, scientists, environmentalists, etc., is: what’s Earth’s carrying capacity? How many people can Earth support? And since humans aren’t the only organisms that call Earth home, how many animals in general?

Are we approaching carrying capacity? Or have we already surpassed it? Some say we’re past it, living on borrowed time thanks to modern technology that allows us to pull far more from the earth than we should be able to. Whether they are right or not, we are certainly approaching a critical point. Besides a population explosion, or perhaps in part because of it, we are facing additional damage to the systems we rely on for life. Habitat destruction and degradation, pollution of our air and water, climate change, food and water scarcity, and loss of biodiversity all directly affect human health and well-being.

So, what do we do? How can we create a world that can support the population?

Education is always important, really in any issue not just the environment. Knowledge really is power. Know the issues, know the problems, and know the challenges and the ability to work through them and come up with potential viable solutions become yours. Share your knowledge, teach others, be a rolling stone and gather some followers. There really is strength in numbers, a group can speak louder and do more than just one person, and besides, movements don’t gain followers on their own. Be passionate, be curious, be active in your cause, and do the research (Google is a wonderful invention). Live what you preach. Change how you do things, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” No, seriously, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! 

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