World Population Day 2013: Maropeng highlights impact of global population growth
It is estimated that the global population will reach nine billion by 2050.
In recognition of World Population Day, which is celebrated annually on 11 July, Maropeng urges all South Africans to become increasingly aware of overpopulation and the ensuing effects on the planet.
"World Population Day is an initiative first established in 1989 by the UN Development Programme. It offers us an opportunity to focus on urgent population issues," says Magel van de Venter, customer relations manager at Maropeng.
According to the UN Population Fund, the event is observed in various ways around the world.
For Van de Venter, inadequate fresh water, depleting natural resources, deforestation, loss of ecosystems, global warming and elevated crime are just some of the by-products of worldwide overpopulation.
"Maropeng is actively raising awareness about population issues in our educational resource packs, where we deal with a wide variety of problems and their resulting effect on the Earth, while giving educators the tools necessary to explore this topic and engage in debate with learners," she says.
Maropeng's resource pack highlights how food and global sustainability go hand-in-hand, and provides interesting statistics and information about world population, showing how local demographics have changed over the years.
"Through learning we become enlightened and I encourage schools to consider bringing their learners to Maropeng for a life-changing experience," she adds.
Saving water is a vital issue. As the national population grows, the availability of fresh water is slowly decreasing, and the need to use water sparingly has become a hot topic.
According to media reports, it is predicted that South Africa will hit a water crisis by 2020, where water demand will outstrip supply. Maropeng recently built its own wetland project and now saves on water usage and recycles “grey” water. The grey water supplies the neighbouring game farm with water and can be used for irrigation. Maropeng also invested in an ozone waste water purification system.
"As a World Heritage Site, we need to set an example for society," says Van de Venter. "We face the same issue with food supply considering that advances in farming have been blamed for overpopulation," she adds.
In 2007 it was estimated that if everyone on Earth lived a European lifestyle, the world's population would need more than two-and-a-half planets' worth of resources just to support itself. Meanwhile, every year hundreds of millions of people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, with millions dying because of it. Of these deaths, more than 6-million are children under the age of five.
"We all need to realise the impact of overpopulation. The next generation needs to make changes if the planet is going to endure. Through our resource pack and displays at Maropeng, we hope to influence our visitors and in a small way begin the cycle of change," she concludes.