A myriad of environmental issues have been addressed in this blog so far; it is overpopulation’s turn this time, why not. The world’s population has been growing and has never stopped. In fact, population growth is exponential! Today the earth hosts more than 7 billion human souls. This number is expected to grow to an all-time high of 9.7 billion by 2050. If this looks surprising, by 2100, the estimates point top 11.2 billion! Really, What…. Nearly extra 4 billion people will be living on earth by this estimate. This will be like adding the current Asian population on the total global population today. While these statistics might be appealing and actually look interesting, the capacity of the planetary population is roughly 10 billion only. In fact, without going this far, the earth is already chocking and exhausted with the existing 7 plus billion people. The cities of the world and the urban places have experienced urban growth and sprawl in the past century and this is set to happen in cities that are still lean.
The catch of overpopulation lies in the ability of the planet to cater for this much number of people. The planetary resources are finite, and it is only a finite population which shall survive in the long run. The number of resources that the earth is able to give per soul shall decrease by a huge factor when the ultimate overpopulation reached. Even though the capacity is expected to be 10 billion people, the recent population growth has led to unsustainable levels of resource use. Forests are being cut, lands are being cleared and the bedrock of life is being destroyed every single day in order to cater to the needs of the living.
The more the people on the planet, the more they release carbon dioxide and other vital greenhouse gasses thus leading to an exacerbated state global warming and climate change. Resources are not sourced sustainably, neither are they utilized in a sustainable manner. The behavior of humans through their anthropogenic means continue to dwindle any efforts of efficient resource use.
Even as we think about the population growth in the future, it is not likely to be in developed nations like the Americas and Europe, though they have been expected to produce more GHG emission to contribute to the current climate calamity, leaving smaller, vulnerable countries to experience the consequences. The bulk of the future population growth shall be in Africa and Asia. These continents are already facing resource shortages to sustain the needs of its people. The people in the rural and remote areas of these regions are the most vulnerable. Majority of them are estimated to live on less than a dollar and they depend on subsistence means to live. Any additional humans in these regions will mean a disaster but then, this is ultimately what will happen.
Simply thought, overpopulation fuels unsustainability because resource competition sets in. In an area where vast lands used to exist, they will be reduced as clearance is effected to establish units of dwelling. This reduces the amount of resource production which should fend for the blotted population. Equally, it reduces the green and natural capacity of the planet to absorb the waste produced by the same humans.
Although technologies and measures such as family planning, green energy, and Genetically Modified Organisms are poised to provide some viable solutions, they cannot replace the innate value and ability of natural environments in doing the same job. Can this foreseeable natural/human problem be arrested before it arrives on the scene of global issues that cause human suffering?
Davis, A., Arnocky, S., & Stroink, M. (2019). The Problem of Overpopulation: Proenvironmental Concerns and Behavior Predict Reproductive Attitudes. Ecopsychology. doi: 10.1089/eco.2018.0068.
Pechon, R., Jinyama, H., & Ito, N. (2013). Technological Access to the Immerging Global Issues: Population, Food, Energy and Environment. International Journal Of Comprehensive Engineering, 2(1), C, 96-105. doi: 10.14270/ijce2013.2.1.c96.