A US university faculty has determined that an overpopulated planet is the biggest problem that we face today, followed by climate change and a need for renewable energy resources.
According to a survey of the faculty at the SUNY (State University of New York) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), overpopulation is the world's top environmental issue, followed closely by climate change and the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels.
Just in time for Earth Day (April 22), the faculty at the college, at which environmental issues are the sole focus, was asked to help prioritize the planet's most pressing environmental problems.
Overpopulation came out on top, with several professors pointing out its ties to other problems that rank high on the list.
"Overpopulation is the only problem," said Dr. Charles A. Hall, a systems ecologist. "If we had 100 million people on Earth, or better, 10 million, no others would be a problem," he added.
According to Dr. Allan P. Drew, a forest ecologist, "Overpopulation means that we are putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than we should, just because more people are doing it and this is related to overconsumption by people in general, especially in the 'developed' world."
"But, whether developed or developing, everyone is encouraged to 'want' and perceive that they 'need' to consume beyond the planet's ability to provide," said Dr. Susan Senecah, who teaches the history of the American environmental movement at SUNY.
The ESF faculty pointed to climate change as the second most-pressing issue, with the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels coming in third.
"Experimenting with the earth's climate and chemistry has great risks," said Dr. Thomas E. Amidon, who invented a process for removing energy-rich sugars from wood and fermenting those sugars into ethanol.
"This is a driver in climate change and loss of biodiversity and is a fundamental problem underlying our need to strive for sustainability," he added.