Thursday, November 11, 2010

Considering Population & Sustainability

We Quakers have a practice known as "seasoning."

The idea is to let an proposal age and be discussed before it is formally put forward for final approval or rejection.

Note too that Friends don't vote on these matters but seek "a sense" of the Quaker community. That often — but not always — means unanimity. The term we use is "unity of the spirit."

A committee of our regional North Pacific Yearly Meeting has urged us to consider a formal "minute" that may be put before the annual session in July 2011. The committee invites comment from Friends in the Northwest.

But, as you will see, the proposal extends beyond our small community, so I invite your comments and consideration too.


WORLD population has been growing at the astonishing pace of over 75 million persons per year, over 200,000 persons per day, over 8,500 per hour.

Previously, world food production has managed to keep up with increases in human population. Now we are reaching the limits of arable land, ocean fish populations, fresh underground water, fossil fuels, and other resources. To accommodate the growing human population, forests are being cut down at the rate of 5,000 acres per hour, water tables are being drawn down at alarming rates, and human waste and pollution are poisoning the air, water, and land at an unprecedented pace.

Population growth is also a factor in persistent public health problems, poverty, crime, wars, and other social ills. In order to realize the Quaker vision of an Earth restored and a peaceful, just society, we must seek ways to stabilize human population and consumption at levels that are sustainable for humans as well as other species.
To do this, we encourage voluntary measures including:

(1) adequate funding for family planning services worldwide.

(2) raising the status of women, and better education for women and men, both of which are keys to smaller family size.

(3) support for those who choose adoption, shared child-rearing, or celibacy as alternatives to the idea that everyone needs to have biological children, while honoring parenthood for those who choose that.

(4) ) simpler lifestyles in high-consuming nations such as the United States, including fewer possessions, greater sharing, and reduction or elimination of meat consumption.

(5) increased research on sustainable methods of food production, energy production, and other ways to meet human needs throughout the world without sacrificing natural systems or the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

We believe that these and other voluntary approaches should be vigorously pursued now to avoid the necessity of more coercive measures in the future to maintain a needed balance of resources between present and future generations of humans, and other species.

We urge Friends everywhere to join us in pursuing these approaches to sustainability in our personal lives, and in our local communities, states and nations.

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