Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Critical to address population explosion urgently

Published:Tuesday | November 29, 2022 | 12:07 AM


On November 14 the human population reached eight billion. This population growth has been fuelled by the ever-increasing life expectancy, declining infant and maternal mortality, progress in medicine, and public health. According to a United Nations report, populations also grow when there’s a lack of family planning, and a lack of education and empowerment of women. If the current trend continue, the earth’s population will reach nine billion within the next 15 years.

Consider the impact that this will have on the world and its economies, and the strain on resources; there will be environmental degradation and carbon emission. How we mitigate these challenges is a multibillion-dollar question.

According to indicators, Jamaica’s growth rate is 0.4 per cent annually. Since 1960, the population has increased from 1.63 million to almost three million, an 86 per cent growth, and the question is, how will this trajectory impact life in Jamaica? If we don’t educate the populace about birth control, if we don’t slow climate change, if we don’t get back to farming and become self-sustained, then we will face a lot of challenges. Drought and famine may break out.

Maybe the the retirees could look at agro-industry as an option for a second career. Being in their 60s, life is just beginning. This will help to reduce our food importation bill. Also, deforestation is hindering growth and there is less or erratic rainfall. Also, the increase in the number of motor vehicles is spreading pollution. I believe that in places like Bermuda, only one vehicle per household is allowed. There is the widespread use of bikes and bicycles, which have minimal impact on climate change. In Jamaica, we lose so many man-hours on the road jostling in traffic and breathing exhaust fumes. An efficient and reliable public transport system will help to reduce the number of cars on the roads and avert some of the environmental disasters that await us.

We need to stop selling our farmlands for housing. Maybe it is time for developers and city councils to look with favour at building condos, housing co-ops and apartment buildings, especially in rural areas and small townships, thus using minimal space, so that there can be more lands for farming.

I grew up learning from my grandma that we should eat what we sow, and plant what we eat. She was quick to point out to me that instead of having flower gardens around the house, have food garden. I practise this up until now.

Time is of the essence, and we need to develop strategies to counterbalance the population explosion, else there will be continued challenges with crime, unemployment, poverty and poor healthcare.