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article imageOp-Ed: President Obama, President Xi, and the overpopulation time bomb

By Michael Krebs     Jun 3, 2013 in World
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting at a retreat in Southern California this coming weekend, and the pressing matter before them is the one they will not tackle: population management.
The Southern California mansion on the edge of the Mojave Desert offers an ideal symbolic location for the two-day summit between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. That is, of course, if the two leaders have the courage to come to terms with the sprawling mismanagement of global population growth.
The Mojave Desert presents a stark reminder that global water consumption doubles every 20 years, according to an April 2012 report on the consequences of overpopulation in Desert Exposure.
The earth's finite resources cannot support the current worldwide population toll of 7 billion people, and with more than 100 million new births expected in 2013 alone, according to real-time statistics from Worldometers, human consumption of the precious remaining sources of freshwater and food is an engine that is tilting the ecological equation toward a disastrous end.
All of humanity's pressing issues come back to the broader issue of overpopulation: disease management, particularly in the troubling rise of new viruses and bacteria; incessant poverty; housing and urban planning; soaring healthcare costs; human-induced environmental impact, including all climate-change planning; macro-economics, including social stability through jobs and social welfare; agricultural management, including food and water distribution; resource management, including energy extraction and distribution.
The matter of population management, China being the world's most populous country and the U.S. being the world's third most populous country (far behind India), is the most important topic for Obama and Xi to discuss and to meaningfully manage over short and intermediate terms.
While the two will likely use their time to hint politely at reactive issues, like terrorism and espionage and trade policies and general economics, a structured dialog on family planning and the empowerment of women in China and in the U.S. and in the rest of the world would offer an important first step. This next few steps become decidedly more painful, including: mutually-agreed economic policies that do not reward births (the U.S. still offers tax breaks for households with children); painful agreements on limiting the array of treatment options for elderly patients (most healthcare is delivered in the final years of life, and the highest proportion is delivered to populations over the age of 65); limiting humanitarian and military support in regional wars and conflicts; limiting economic support for nations most out of tilt with a sustainable ecological plan.
There are certainly other policy objectives that can be put in place to manage the population problem, but nothing will be put in place if these two men do not begin to meaningfully address the topic and to publicly drum the message to Americans and to Chinese and to the rest of the listening world.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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