Overpopulation

Summary

THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE: OVERPOPULATION

  • At present, there are more than 7 billion people on Earth
  • Overpopulation is already damaging the various aspects of life on this planet:
    • availability of food and water
    • biodiversity
    • the ability of the countries to provide for their citizens
    • changes to the climate
    • economic problems
  • Decreasing the rate of the population growth and curbing the damage human activity causes can protect humans in the long run.

Where are you living? Are you a city dweller or do you live in a small town? If you are living in the big city, you are probably familiar with this situation. You are in a hurry, you want to get to school on time, but there are PEOPLE EVERYWHERE! There are crowds on the bus, in the underground, in the cars on the roads. The city is just teeming with people going about their business. Sometimes it is really suffocating. And you are quite right in thinking there are a LOT of people. Some cities have much more than a billion citizens. For instance, in the most populated city in the world – Tokyo, Japan – there are around 38,140,000 people! And if you try to count the overall human population on Earth, you will get even and more staggering number – according to the UN, there are more than 7 billion of people altogether.

This became possible because of many reasons:

  • Development of farming – more food is available for everyone
  • Industrial development – new inventions have changed the way we live considerably: we can travel around the world, live in warm buildings, have access to equipment that makes our jobs easier
  • Development of medicine: We now can treat most of the existing diseases, fight cancer, prevent death at childbirth and prolong life
  • Advances in science – which influence all of the aspects above. Science help invent new ways to grow food, to make new appliances, to develop new medicines and educate children.

Most of the people on our planet are now living in a safer and healthier world. They are not killed by wild animals they are rarely dangerously sick and are less likely to starve. People used to die early 200 years ago – from illnesses, hard work, lack of cleanliness and safety. Now we can live up to 100 years. But this overabundance of humans brings a lot of problems as well:

Food And Water Shortages

More people obviously means more food. But we humans are now using a lot of arable lands already. Using more means wreaking damage to the planet. Though we have said above that people now are less likely to go hungry, many still do. It is a big problem in third world countries. There is also a shortage of clean water because human activity pollutes them.

Environmental Pollution And Destruction

Humans produce many things. But besides food, medicine and appliances we also produce toxic chemicals, toxic smoke and a lot of garbage. As a result:

  • Garbage and other types of waste takes up space and pollutes the soil, the air and the seas
  • Chemicals poison the river and the soil
  • The release of greenhouse gases contributes to global warming
  • Destructions of the forests kill multiple species on land
  • Spreading of the cities destroys multiple natural environments
  • Overfishing leads to the destruction of ecosystems in the rivers and seas
  • Farming destabilizes ecosystems, too

We change the environment and climate, interfering with the whole planet. And this makes our lives worse, too.

Burden On The Communities And Countries

 Not all countries can provide equal care to its citizens. As the number of people grows, the demand for more food, more medicine and housing grows as well. It is becoming harder to find homes for everyone. It is becoming difficult to maintain roads and employ civil servants to help: doctors, policemen, teachers, etc. Overcrowding and climate change also leads to an increasing likelihood of epidemics and chronic illnesses. For some governments, even providing basic hygiene such as clean water is a problem sometimes. With the industrial progress, there are fewer jobs in factories, in mines and other places – so people cannot provide for their families. There are a lot of older people too – they cannot work and need looking after, pensions and medical help. All of this leads to huge economic and health problems

What Do We Do Now?

The scientists predict that overall human population can reach 11 billion people in 2100. Our planet cannot sustain so many. Such growth is quite likely to destroy the Earth completely, together with humanity. In the previous century, there were multiple plans to deal with this problem, such as developing space travel or moving to underwater towns. Even now, there is a project for sending colonists to Mars. But all those ideas require too much energy and financial resources and they are not certain to succeed. Instead, we need to deal with the problems we have now. And this means birth control and contraception.

Why Contraception Is Important?

Populations grow differently in different countries. For example, in developed countries, people rarely have more than two kids. Some families have only one child. Women decide to give birth later when they are firmly established at work and can provide for them. But in developing countries, there are a lot of children. It happens because of a number of issues:

  • in a poor country, children are potential helpers. So it makes sense to have more
  • contraception is rarely available or is too expensive
  • People lack information about the possibility of contraception
  • The children do not have access to good medical care and die easily
  • Cultural pressure

So in order to prevent overpopulation, contraception has to be easily available. People need to have a choice about having children. Parents need to be able to have as many children as they can provide for, instead of suffering because their children die of illnesses or hunger.

Preventing overpopulation also involves government policies. For example, China used to have strict birth control laws, limiting the families to one child only. Making education about birth control, relationships and contraception available also helps. Educated people, in general, are significantly more mindful of the environment, too.

And what ideas do you have yourself?

 

Links and further reading:

[1.] Vivien Cumming (14 March 2016). How Many People Can Our Planet really Support? BBC Earth. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160311-how-many-people-can-our-planet-really-support