Human overpopulation occurs in case the capacity of an area to hold its soaring number of people is exhausting. Overpopulation is considered either in a long time perspective or under existing conditions where the actual population of the area cannot be provided with accelerated depletion of the natural resources needed to sustain their life. Moreover, it also includes a situation whereby the environment undergoes degradation while giving support to the soaring population for survival in the areas. The term overpopulation is used to characterize the relationship between the environment and human beings. It can relate to the earth as a whole or a particular region. Therefore, with inability to sustain either human or other forms of life, the area can be termed as overpopulated even if the number of people living there is not high.
The argument against the ever-increasing number of human beings is based on various issues that include carrying capacity of the environment, quality of life in that particular area, and risk of starvation. Overpopulation can be caused by the increased birth rate, reduced mortality rate, and alarmingly increased rate of immigration to a particular area. Further overpopulation can lead to the depletion of resources to sustain the life or unsustainable biome.
Human Growth Statistics
According to Cassils , the human population has continued to grow since 1350 when the Black Death hit Europe. There has been exponential growth in the populating of humans for over five decades now due to medical advancement and increased productivity of the farms. Although the growth rate of the world population has declined since the 1980’s, the United Nations Organization has raised a red flag on the population growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa. The recent research conducted on the population growth in Africa confirmed the concerns of the organization. According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 25 September 2014 the world population is estimated to be 7.191 billion people while the UNO reports about seven billion.
The latest estimates of the world carrying capacity speak about 4 - 16 billion individuals. According to the estimates, it is impossible to assert whether the human overpopulation on earth exist or not. Nevertheless, the rapid growth of the human population in the world today is a common fact. It is estimated that the world population increases by around 80 million per year. There are over 130 million births and 50 million deaths yearly; hence, the number of people increments each year. By 2040, the world population is estimated to be over 10.5 billion people according to the United Nations’ projections of May 2011.
Causes of Human Overpopulation
The human growth in the past five decades has been attributed to various factors. The key causes include decline in the death rate: the overall death and birth rate ratio is the source of overpopulation in the world today. In case the number of births was equal to the number of deaths, the world would manage to keep a stabilized population. However, that is not the case today. The world has witnessed the increased birth rates and declining death rates in the recent past. Improved medical care, discovery of various drugs, and medical advancement have significantly decreased the deaths from illnesses. Therefore, the imbalance between the two figures in the advantage of the population growth has been reported. Moreover, advancement in agriculture brought the availability of the nutritional supplements that can sustain life. The technological advancement provided the better means of food production that allow feeding more people. In the past, illness had been claiming a number of lives; today, however, most diseases can be cured. The vaccines and modern drugs have managed to reduce the morbidity rate all over the planet.
In various parts of the globe, the level of poverty used to be high with numerous people being unable to live comfortably within their means. In the recent past, when a family was struck by a disaster or calamity, people usually decided to give birth to a child that would provide more workforce to overcome the negative effects. Although most children died, some managed to survive; hence, this situation caused the population increase exponentially.
Infertility is no longer an issue as much as it used to be before; today, with the medical and technological advancement, the otherwise infertile couple can have children. There are medication and nutritional provisions that go a long way in regaining fertility or making conception much easier than before. At the same time, due to poor pregnancy management, mothers would die from pregnancy complications in the past. Today, there are advanced modes and means of care for the pregnant mothers, hence making it safer and easier for human beings to survive.
Immigration is another key factor of overpopulation. However, it does not cause any increase of the world population; overcrowding of certain regions is caused by people migrating from one area to another. Today, worldwide people tend to move to the more developed countries because of better education, security, employment, and medical services. The influx of people has been reported by the developed countries that include the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Within the developing countries, there is an increased movement from the rural to urban areas. Therefore, overcrowding urban areas, people are exhausting the limited resources available in these cities and towns. Some of the most affected resources include energy, homes, food, and clothes.
Most of the developing countries have a large population that is a result of deficiency in the family planning knowledge, living in abject poverty, and high levels of illiteracy. People in these countries give their children in marriage at an early age; hence, the reproductive period of such individuals is increased. Moreover, these people are not able to understand how harmful overpopulation is due to their illiteracy. Despite some birth control campaigns implemented by the governments in these areas, people are not willing to use the free family planning services because of their level of ignorance.
Impact of the Population Growth
The human overpopulation is the greatest threat to the environment today. The issue of overpopulation is exacerbating the situation with pollution, global warming, loss of habitat, intensive farming, sixth mass extinction, and the rate of the natural resources consumption. Some resources that are being overused today include finite natural resources like the arable land, fresh water, and fossil fuels.
Depletion of the Natural Resources
Despite the fact that 75 percent of the globe’s surface is covered with water, only a small amount of that water fit for consumption by the human being. It is so because 97 percent of all water is found in the World ocean while the fresh water makes up 2.5 percent. Moreover, seventy percent of the fresh water is in the ice caps and glaciers, and only the remaining 30 percent is in rivers, lakes, ground water, and ponds. Top it off, there is even less water fit for consumption, as most of the fresh water is contaminated with pollutants produced by the human beings. According to the global outlook on the water resources, it is estimated that by 2025, 70 percent of the fresh water will have been used by the human beings for survival.
The damage to the nature caused in the past fifty years has been aggravated by the increased human population. Human beings have been carrying out the process of deforestation to create more space for living and production; the rate of hunting has also increased leading to the decreased number of wildlife. Today, even wild animals that do not provide meat for consumption are being hunted down for their fur and bones; this tendency is causing the ecological disturbance. Moreover, aggression and violence have increased in various parts of the wild as the affected species compete for resources.
The increased overuse of the fossil fuels that include coal, natural gas, and oil is causing great effects to the environment today. The air quality has declined over the past few years due to the increased emissions of various plants and a large number of vehicles in use. Global warming has been caused by the high level of carbon dioxide in the air, Nowadays, there is a risk of polar ice caps melting, associated with the climate patterns change and rise in the sea level due to environmental pollution.
Overpopulation has also caused conflicts in the developing countries, as they have to compete for resources required for their survival and development. For instance, the conflict over such valuable resources as oil has created international tension between the countries and, at times, caused war in those areas. Scarcity of resources like water can speed up further spread of diseases hence making the situations difficult to control. Overpopulation in the developing countries caused poor nutrition of people; therefore, the mortality rates also increased significantly. Poverty is the biggest issue associated with overpopulation in the developing countries today. There is an increased unemployment in the areas that are highly populated. The rate of unemployment increases proportionally to the crime rate in the country. The increase is attributed to unsocial behaviors like stealing with the intention of providing for the families as the government is not able to provide such people with employment.
The increased demand for the basic commodities has led to increased cost of living since goods are bought at high prices for the fact that supply is much lower. Among the basic needs that have been affected by the increased demand are shelter, healthcare, and food. Therefore, people are forced to pay more to survive and take care of their families.
Solutions to Overpopulation
Better education is the backbone in dealing with the overpopulation issues. With better education, people would be able to accept the policies aimed at managing the overpopulation issues. The policies to control the number of children in families who do not have means of taking care of them should be implemented as soon as possible. Moreover, the issue of family planning has to be emphasized, and guidance on how to take control over reproduction should be provided to women. In terms of the population control, sterilization and abortion should be talked about openly. People should be aware of the family planning and its importance. Everyone should know the consequences of overpopulation and at the same time information on the safe sex and contraceptive use to control unwanted pregnancies in women of the reproductive age.
Tax benefits on couples giving birth to a smaller number of children will reduce the birth rate. For instance, people who give birth to only one or two children are to get lower rates of the income tax. The lower income tax will always be efficient in reducing the birth rate since people are more inclined towards money; hence, this measure can bring positive results in the population control.
Sex education is important among the teenagers for the fact that young adults usually engage in unsafe sex early in life; hence, the number of unwanted pregnancies increases. Sex education among the teenagers and children will help to inform them on the safe methods of contraception. As a rule, the level of sex education among young people received from their parents is low. The poor sex education is caused by the fact that parents feel embarrassed when talking about the sensitive topic of sex.
The looming crisis in the resources available for the overwhelmingly large number of people in the world today has to be dealt with in a timely and effective manner. According to the statistics provided above, the number of people is growing far much faster than the Earth can accommodate with the limited resources at hand. Therefore, education of the masses on the effect of overpopulation is paramount since that step can bring the insight of consequences of the problem to the people worldwide. Various solutions that have been implemented in some parts of the globe have brought positive results with people having a smaller number of children that they can manage. However, the rate of birth control should be dealt with properly so as to avoid future decline of population. Poor control can lead to the increase of the aged people who are of low economical value to the country at their age.