Current Physical Issues
Water & Air Pollution
As the world
population grows, one of the greatest concerns must be
pollution. With 6,248,050,000
people on the planet according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the impact on the environment must be
called significant. In the last few decades, many
organizations have been keeping a close eye on the
In the U.S.,
government groups such as the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and State Departments of Environmental Conservation have
worked with independent watchdog groups like Greenpeace,
Earth First, The Audubon Society and the Sierra Club over the
best method of protection for both the environment and human
Many big businesses
have been slow to adopt new environmental regulations because
they of concerns it will be too expensive to make the
necessary changes. In several cases, government
regulation and intervention has been necessary to compel a
company to clean up toxic or hazardous waste sites. In
fact, since 1980, the EPA has overseen the cleanup of over
1,300 hazardous sites across the country.
One major concern
for researchers is the rapidly growing world population.
In developed nations, the average birthrate is between 1 and 2
children per woman. That means countries like Spain and the
Czech Republic are experiencing a shrinking population.
In under-developed nations, the birthrate is about 4 children
per female. In some Africa nations, women are bearing 7
children, on average. The birthrate in the United
States is below the rate of replacement, meaning more
people are dying than being born to replace them.
China and India
already account for over 20% of the world population. In
other words, 1 person out of every 5 in the world is either
Chinese or Indian. In less than 20 years, 1 out of
every 4 people will be from India or China, with Africa
contributing to the largest percentage (est. 35%) of global
populations grow, demand for energy will surely increase.
Even in the most developed nations, energy demand sometimes
outpaces the supply available, leading to blackouts (total
loss of power to everyone) or brownouts (partial loss of power
to homes and businesses). Such happenings are expensive
for both companies, who lose money during the down time, and
citizens, who may lose food they cannot afford to replace.
In the U.S., plans
have been made to make sure the energy demand never exceeds
the energy supply. New (nuclear, steam, and hydro) power
generation plants are being built. New alternative
forms of energy such as solar and wind power are being
New mining and
drilling is taking place to restock supplies of crude oil,
natural gas, and coal, but fossil fuels, as they are known,
also produce great amounts of pollution when burned. So,
unfortunately, there is a trade-off for having cheap fuel
around to use.
As you could
expect, urban and rural populations often face different kinds
of problems. Cities (2,500 or more residents) must deal
with congested traffic, for example, or high populations in
need of housing and adequate food supplies. Along with
high population comes overcrowding, as the limited space is
rapidly used up. Overcrowding, crime and waste disposal are
three of the major concerns in urban areas today.
Data shows that the these three serious issues often go
hand-in-hand with high population density.
Current Human Issues
The term Baby Boomer
is used to describe
middle-aged Americans. Economic
prosperity followed the end of World War Two, which
resulted in many jobs and increased income for workers.
Because of this, many people felt comfortable
having large families. The sharp increase in the
number of children born between 1946 and 1964 created a
baby boom. That means anyone (in the
year 2002) between the age
38 and 56 falls into the Baby Boomer category.
About 77,000,000 Americans fall into the Baby Boomer
Graying of America
At this time,
more than 12% of all Americans are over age 65.
Because of the large Baby Boomer population group, about 35% of Americans will be eligible for
retirement (or already are retired) in the next twenty
years. To put that into a different perspective,
that translates to about 100,000,000 people.
The number of
retired or ready-to-retire Americans is significantly
higher than the number of Americans who will be left in
the workplace. Because retirees will outnumber
workers within the next two decades, it has been
said that without significant planning, Americas elderly
are in danger of losing Social Security benefits in the
next twenty years. The federal government has
discussed several reform options for Social Security and
Medicare funding, but political rivalry has prevented