Friday, March 9, 2012

Soylent Green and Overpopulation

Soylent Green is a film that predicts a devastatingly overpopulated Earth in 2022. The population of New York alone has reached forty million, and the consequences are dire. The homeless are so numerous that they clog sidewalks and stairwells with their sleeping bodies, and churches have for all intents and purposes been converted into overcrowded shelters. The planet has been so polluted and exploited that only the elderly generation remembers what blue oceans and pristine wildlife look like. Because of the lack of open land, fresh food is scarce, and most live off of processed food wafers made by the Soylent Company. The film was released in 1973, one year before the global population hit four billion. Now we are only ten years away from the setting of Soylent Green with seven billion people, and we must ask ourselves how far away we are from the fate the movie predicts, and what we can do to avoid it.

Crowd Control in Soylent Green

This Soylent Green t-shirt proves how this film has forged its way into popular culture as a cult classic
The film impacted popular culture, when it originally came out.  It became referenced in comedy television, films, and other media. Today, other science-fiction films have used Soylent Green as an inspiration. The film shows how humanity exaggerated with the situation, and there is no way that can happen in the future. Its most popular line was “Soylent Green is people!” which is probably another reason it became so popular, because of its unanticipated ending.

Other media in which Soylent Green is referenced:

In Soylent Green we see overpopulation and the ecological damage that humans have on the planet taken to an extreme level; while this might seem unrealistic for us, it is important to understand that overpopulation is a crucial issue that is ultimately ruining our habitat.  It has been a concern for decades, and it continues to be one. The more humans there are in the world, the more resources we will need to survive. This is where the problem arises because we do not have unlimited amount of supplies for everyone. Humans need to learn to take care of our planet, and help reduce the amount of resources we use. This problem raises many concerns for the future of the human population.  Is overpopulation really something to worry about? How much at risk are we at now? What can we do to control the growth of the population?
Of course, overpopulation does not only include the human species. It also includes animals. Should we be more concerned with controlling the human population or certain animal species? Well, it is easier to simply get rid of an unwanted animal species than it is to get rid of humans. For example, the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) has been accountable for poisoning millions of blackbirds. Their explanation is that these blackbirds cause ecological damage by plaguing farms, and creating health risks to others. [To read more on this: Bye Bye Blackbird. However, is this justification fair? Humans are also guilty of damaging and abusing the ecological system. Should we be poisoned to death, too?

Basically, then, there are only two kinds of solutions to the population problem. One is a "birth rate solution," in which we find ways to lower the birth rate. The other is a "death rate solution," in which ways to raise the death rate - war, famine, pestilence - find us. 
-Paul Ehrlich
What is overpopulation?
Overpopulation is when the inhabitants of a habitat exceed the limited capacity it can hold.

How big is the Earth?
The earth is 8,000 miles wide and 24,000 miles in circumference.

What is the current human population?
We are currently at 7 billion people. China and India both occupy 1 billion, each. Following that is the US, with 300 million inhabitants. The US only takes up 5% of the entire world population, but consumes 26% of the world’s energy.

What is the estimated population by 2050? And how many humans can the earth sustain?
The population is estimated to be at 9 billion by 2050. There is not an exact number of people the earth can hold. Listen to this podcast.
What is ruining our Earth?
There are many factors that continue ruining our earth. Humans need resources to survive, and as we know, these resources are not unlimited. Resources such as soil and water are constantly being depleted, and these resources are not so easily replaceable. The depletion of these resources can potentially harm future generations. The more people there are, the more pollution we cause, another factor to the ecological damage.
Will we run out of food?
The problem is not scarcity in food. We have enough food; the problem is knowing how to evenly distribute it. The thing we should be worrying about is the way in which we consume our natural resources!
How many years do we have until we run out of our natural resources?
At our current global consumption rate, the estimate is 150 years. However, this estimate is not completely accurate, due to improving our uses of our technology, developing other ways to recycle, and discovering other ways to prolong our natural resources.


  1. Expecting we can by one means or another adapt to and reduce an Earth-wide temperature boost, we are still left with the issue of overpopulation. Also, for all intents and purposes no legislature on the planet is managing it.For the individuals who never saw "Soylent Green" it's a motion picture around a world in which the lack of sustenance is because of the sheer number of individuals who possess this planet. Also, before the end of this century, we will be confronting that issue head on.

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