Whose Responsibility is the Environment?
Everyone — all 6.6 billion of us — needs to pitch in
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
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"Yours, mine, and everyone's," said the vast majority of kids in a recent Kids' Environmental Report Card poll. "It's our planet!" the kids agreed.
The kids' view of shared responsibility is similar to that of Adlai Stevenson, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. In 1965, Stevenson told the citizens of the world:
"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship dependent on its vulnerable supplies of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft."
Exactly how many passengers now share Stevenson's "fragile craft"? According to U.S. Census Bureau data for February 2008, about 6.6 billion people are currently hitching a ride on Planet Earth.
More People, More Pressure
The Earth's population has increased dramatically over the past century. In 1804, there were an estimated one billion people on the planet. By 1927, that number had doubled, and it doubled again in 1974. At that rate of growth, the Census Bureau estimates, the world population could reach 9.4 billion by the year 2050.
China is the world's most populous nation with about 1.32 billion men, women and children - about 20% of world population. The second largest is India, with 1.12 billion - about 17 percent of all people on Earth. India is followed by the United States, with 300 million and Indonesia, with 225 million people. Together, these four nations contain nearly half of the world's human population.
There's an obvious link between the number of people and the amount of pressure we are putting on the environment. More people require more resources to survive. That means more potential for polluting the planet's air, soil and water.
That's where we all come in. Saving the environment will require everyone's best efforts - not just those of politicians, scientists, grownups or kids acting alone.
What's Your Plan?