Two Long-Term Problems: Too Many People, Too Few Trees
Writer: Moti Nissani
The essay, “Two Long-Term Problems: Two Many People, Too Few Trees”, by a noted scholar Moti Nissani, is about two distinct yet inter-related, long-term problems. These two major problems, which are overpopulation and deforestation, are likely to destroy all the lives on our planet unless timely actions are taken.
The essay starts with the world’s scientists concern over the earth’s environment. It is becoming much polluted. The air, water, and soil, which are regarded to be the most important things for the existence of any living species, are becoming poisonous and many kinds of plants and animals have already disappeared.
Nissani opines the main reason for the degrading situation is overpopulation. It is constantly swinging up because people are living longer than in past and too many children are being born. He cites the example of Nepal, where the population has risen to 23 million from 9 million in less than 50 years. If the same trend continues unchecked, the population of Nepal will reach around 368 million after 140 years. Nepal is not the only case of this kind. The population is increasing everywhere except in some countries which can be counted on fingertips. More people, in turn, use more natural resources, cause pollution, and bring changes in world climate.
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Meanwhile, the time for improvement is still within our reach. We can still control the situation though it is difficult to reverse it. We can minimise the problem by controlling our population. Education, especially to women, and information about how to avoid babies can help to reduce the population growth.
As the population grows, forests are cut down for new farmlands and houses. The demand of rich people in the west for beef is also provoking people to change the forest into pasture-land. Besides, the demand for wood and paper products in developed countries is also adding fuel to the fire.
When the trees are chopped down, the topsoil is destroyed. It leads to disastrous landslides and sudden flood. Deforestation also causes droughts, weather extremes, desertification, loss of wild species, and depletion of the ozone layer.
However, deforestation can also be controlled if the number of people will be controlled. Education, family planning and changes in the way we use wood are also important to control deforestation. For example, in Nepal, the use of smokeless stoves can reduce the amount of firewood. The essayists remind us that we know what changes we have to make but we are not clever or brave enough to make those changes. We need to apply what we know to control these two long-term problems.