Technology development is something that constantly plays on our minds; when is the new iPhone coming out? What new features will it have? Will the camera have a ‘flawless’ filter? But one thing many people don’t consider is how technology development has played such a huge part in the growth of the human population over the years. The invention of various different types of transport created a new accessibility to work which allowed for a bigger economy and bigger families. Even the creation of technology has in itself created more jobs: computer technicians, engineers, mechanics, plumbers. There is now not a single job in the world that does not interact with technology of some kind – whether it be a sales assistant working on a till or a receptionist inputting data in to a system. We are now so technologically advanced that some of the jobs originally created by technology development have actually been replaced by newer technology development. But what effect is all of this technology development having on the environment? Furthermore, is all this technology actually reducing the chance of population growth?
A lot of the batteries used in the electronic technology that we produce today are composed of ‘Rare Earth Metals’, which is a group of 17 elements shown in the periodic table below:
These metals are extremely difficult to extract from the earth and often cause large amounts of environmental damage and produce harmful emissions such as Sulfuric Acid, Coal Dust and Solvent Vapours. You may not really understand what these terms mean – to be honest with you, I don’t either – but I do understand the consequences. The flow of toxic waste from this mining process runs in to nearby waters and kills plant life, fish and even rural residents. China is the single biggest supplier of Rare Earth Metals, this is because the metals are sold at cheap prices as environmental safety standards are virtually non-existent. One of the main areas that produces Rare Earth Metals is near the city of Batou, which is 650km north west of Beijing. It may not be surprising to find out that most of the residents who resided in a village near to where the Rare Earth Metals are mined moved away, 7 of them died from cancer and the animals that are still present there have become deformed; there are sheep that have grown two layers of teeth so long that they are unable to close their mouths. Perhaps technology development is actually slowing our population growth after all.
So what technology is it that uses these environment-destroying elements? It may not shock you too much to find out that technology such as smartphones, computers, hard drives and electronic cars all use Rare Earth Metals in their production but one thing I did find quite strange is that rare earth metals are also used in the production of wind turbines. We were all led to believe that wind turbines are a clean source of energy, they don’t damage our environment and yet the very stuff that is used to produce them creates a vast amount of environmental and physical damage to those around it. I’ll leave you with this question, what energy source are we able to use without damaging our planet in some way?
The Black Death, a plague which swept over the Planet in the 14th Century that was thought to have been spread by the fleas that live on rats. A disease spread by pests that killed over 20 million people in Europe alone. Population growth may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of The Black Death, but perhaps population control is (probably not, but I’m going to talk about it anyway).
We as human beings, look at The Plague and see it as a horrifying event in history but was it really so bad? Yes, it killed a lot of people, but just think how much more populated our planet would be if it hadn’t have happened. All I ever hear is people moaning about how there’s too many cars on the road – count yourselves lucky, it could have been millions of times worse! How could we have possibly stopped it from happening anyway? If The Plague happened in the 21st century we would probably have just exterminated all of the rats, as we did in the case of Mad Cows Disease, but why do we value our own lives so much more than theirs? Survival instinct you might say, yet we claim to be rational beings who are able to rise above our instincts in order to make moral choices. In this particular scenario, it’s hard to know the right and wrong – kill the infected rodents, or allow the infected rodents to kill us?
Population control is necessary to every species on the planet, there can be too much a good thing as the saying goes – not that the human race is always a good thing! As our population grows, so comes the time when population control will be necessary to us. Maybe the world will follow in China’s footsteps and adopt a one child policy, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.
With Donald Trump recently becoming president after he was caught on tape claiming he would grab women ‘by the pussy’, it recently got me thinking about gender ratio throughout the world and whether it has anything to do with gender equality. Biologically women are more likely to live longer as they resist disease better and in historical terms men would be more likely to fight in a war. When considering this information you may come to the conclusion that there should be more women in the world than men. What’s interesting however is that in reality, there are actually more men in the world than there are women. According to a government article ‘In 2004, males accounted for 50.4% of the global total’, yet in certain areas of the globe the average ratio is much higher.
In parts of Asia and North Africa, male babies are seen to be more desirable. This ideology comes not only from tradition but the views on social worth of men and women; men can go out and earn a better wage, and when women get married they tend to leave their original family to join that of their husbands. For this reason women are seen as more of an economical burden on a family where as men are seen to add more to the family’s wealth. Thus making women more likely to abort female foetus’ or neglect their female children in favour of their male children.
Female foetul abortion is seen especially in places like China where the one child policy was in place, the parents would prefer their one child to be male and so would be more likely to abort a female. According to an article I read, throughout the world on average for every 100 women that are born, there is roughly between 103-107 men. Yet in regards to China per 100 women there is 118 men. This may seem like an outrage, to think that someone may actually abort their child just due to the child’s gender – how can sexism still be so prominent in the 21st century? It’s been over 100 years since the suffragettes died for the women’s vote in the UK! However, it is important to remember that different countries have different cultures; gender equality may not be as quickly achievable in countries that are less developed and have higher rates of poverty. More to the point, as I mentioned earlier in regards to Donald Trump recently becoming President of the USA, perhaps sexism is still prominent even in the western world where traditions are not held on to so tightly.
Looking at things from a different aspect though, what does this mean for population growth? The worry in China is that as the male population grows and the female population struggles to keep up, it leads to a higher rate of men who are unable to get married – simply because there aren’t enough women – which in turn leads to a higher rate of violent and antisocial behaviours. This begs the question: could it possibly lead to a slower rate of population growth? If there are less women getting pregnant, and more men being born – perhaps this could be a solution to China’s overpopulation problem. It’s certainly interesting to consider what future China holds, only time will tell.