Our “Jewel in Space”—Is It in Trouble?
VIEWING our planet during his lunar mission, an American astronaut described it as “the most beautiful thing to see, in all the heavens.” The blue sphere frosted with patches of white and brown is indeed like an exquisite “jewel in space.”
Although our globe appears tranquil and elegant from the surface of the moon, on earth its beauty is marred. Its inhabitants are experiencing huge problems. One of the most difficult, insidious and complex of problems to solve is the population explosion.
This problem has been considered by politicians and experts time and again. But the advancing years only serve to heighten the problem—and it affects you, one way or another. For example, if you live in a big city, have you noticed how often the traffic goes at a snail’s pace or even comes to a standstill? Have you experienced for yourself how crammed the buses, trains, subways and sidewalks are? Hence, the government of mainland China, with a burgeoning population of more than one billion, tries to limit families by law to one child each.
Even the most optimistic experts regard the world’s rising population flood with grave concern. Why? Because the availability of food, land, jobs and natural resources is limited. In addition, many authorities in the field blame the population explosion for contributing to other problems that blemish the beauty of our planet, such as:
● FAMINE. In some cities of underdeveloped countries, on many mornings street sweepers have to clean dead persons out of the gutters. Yes, starvation and malnutrition lead to death for millions each year. And the demand for food worldwide is expected to double by the year 2000, less than 17 years from now!
● WILDLIFE LOSSES. Because of human habitat expansion thousands of plants and animals are threatened with extinction.
● ENERGY SCARCITY. Depletion of limited fossil fuels is feared as population growth soars and wasteful consumption increases. Babies born in the developed countries will consume far more of the world’s resources than those born in the underdeveloped countries.
● POLLUTION. Air pollution worsens as cities become more crowded with vehicles. Water pollution grows as chemical fertilizers and pesticides used for increasing food production enter the natural water system.
● WAR THREATS. In the future, nuclear blackmail may be applied to extract concessions from neighboring countries for more land and resources. Over 30 countries may have nuclear weapons by the year 2000.
● UNEMPLOYMENT. Automation often leads to the loss of jobs. In country after country there is not enough work for people to have full employment.
As a result of all these problems, more and more people are realizing that the earth is a limited spaceship and they are the temporary passengers on it. The late American diplomat Adlai Stevenson expressed it well: “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable supplies of air and soil . . ., preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and I say the love, we give our fragile craft.”
Are we overcrowding our spaceship earth? Are there humane solutions to the problem of a growing list of passengers? In whom can we trust for our survival on spaceship earth—the beautiful “jewel in space”?