Overpopulation – How does it Affect the Environment?

One of the global issues impacting the world today is the threat of overpopulation. The global population explosion is not a recent phenomenon; its roots may be traced all the way back to prehistoric times and stretch all the way to the current day. Throughout history, respected scientists have proposed the concept of “overpopulation” and predicted future consequences if the world continues on its current path.

According to predictions, scientists invented the birth control pill and used eugenics to curb population growth. Despite this, the population continued to grow and diseases remained a continual threat. Another factor that aided population growth was migration, which poses serious environmental risks. Natural ecosystems are destroyed as a result of urbanization, and carbon dioxide emissions are increased, causing climate change and global warming. Species are vanishing, and humanity faces the threat it created for itself. Global inequality causes food scarcity and water scarcity, as well as a lack of job opportunities and poor education. Despite the assistance of international organizations and agencies, unequal distribution of natural resources, financial means, and individual rights leads to poverty and defines the global culture as greedy.

In the book Is the Planet Full?, Ian Goldin writes that on the planet which contains more than 7 billion people, 60 percent live in Asia, 15 percent in Africa, 11 percent in Europe, 9 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 5 percent in North America, and less than 1 percent in Oceania. In Singapore, ”more than 7,000 people live per square kilometer, whereas in Australia three people on average inhabit in the same area”.

What are the causes of Overpopulation?

The Death Rate Is Declining

The disparity between the general birth and mortality rates of populations is at the foundation of overpopulation. The population will stable if the number of children born each year equals the number of people who die.
When it comes to overpopulation, it’s important to remember that while many variables might raise the death rate for a short period of time, those that raise the birth rate do so over a lengthy period of time.
Our forefathers’ development of agriculture was one factor that enabled them to survive without hunting. The first disparity between the two rates resulted from this.

Improved Medical Services

The industrial revolution began as a result of this. The most important reason why the balance has been irrevocably disrupted is technological advancement.

Science was able to develop more efficient methods of food production, allowing families to feed more mouths. Furthermore, medical research generated numerous breakthroughs that enabled them to overcome a wide spectrum of ailments.
Vaccines have cured diseases that had previously claimed thousands of lives. When the rise in food supply was combined with fewer ways of mortality, the balance tipped and overpopulation began.

Immigration

Many people choose to relocate to developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, where the best medical, educational, security, and employment opportunities are available. As a result, those individuals gravitate to certain areas, eventually overcrowding them.
When the number of people leaving the country exceeds the number of persons entering, there is frequently a surge in demand for food, clothing, energy, and housing.
As a result, there is a scarcity of resources. Though the overall population remains unchanged, the density of the population increases, making the area overcrowded.

Lack of Family Planning

A huge percentage of individuals in most developing countries are uneducated, live in poverty, and have little or no awareness about family planning. Furthermore, getting their children married at a young age raises the likelihood of their having additional children.
These people are unable to comprehend the negative consequences of overpopulation, and a lack of adequate knowledge leads them to shun family planning.

What are the Effects of Overpopulation on the Environment?

The reason for environmental degradation is the human’s footprint. With the growing population, degradation increases. Expanding of urban areas, race for food and water resources, and lack of housing and employment opportunities arise as consequences of overpopulation.

Carbon dioxide and Greenhouse Effect

With the beginning of Industrial Revolution, humans started to heavily rely on energy produced from burning of fossil fuels. As forests are an abundant source of carbon, deforestation allowed humans to leave their trace in environmental pollution. The consequence of a rise in carbon emissions in the atmosphere has a devastating impact on the climate change.

A humanity’s footprint on global environment is evident in increase of carbon dioxide and decrease of ozone in the atmosphere. Burning of wood, coal, and oil, along with volcanic eruptions and respiration process of animals, plants, and microorganisms, are compounds that produce carbon dioxide.

Global Warming

Despite the widespread debate and controversy about global warming as a potential threat to our environment, experts provide statistics to show that Earth is in danger. Compared to the beginning of the twentieth century, global temperatures have increased for 1 degree Fahrenheit and they still continue to rise. With the increasing population, more vehicles are on the street releasing the harmful greenhouse gases. Rise in industries, more demand of the cattle are all the reasons of increasing greenhouse gases giving rise to the global warming.

Scarcity of Food

The relationship between the number of people on the planet and the amount of food is direct. As the number of people grows, the demand for food ultimately rises. The lack of the cropland area and the drop of irrigation water per person as well as ineffective use of fertilizers are factors that contribute to a wide food gap.

Degradation of Environment

Overuse of coal, oil, and natural gas has begun to have major consequences for our ecosystem. Furthermore, the exponential increase in the number of automobiles and enterprises has had a negative impact on air quality.
Global warming is caused by an increase in CO2 emissions. Melting polar ice caps, shifting climate patterns, and rising sea levels are just a few of the potential repercussions of environmental pollution.

Wars and Conflicts

Overpopulation puts a strain on the resources that should be used for development in underdeveloped countries. Water disputes are becoming a source of friction between countries, with the potential to lead to war. It accelerates the spread of infections and makes them more difficult to control.
Hunger is a major problem that the globe is dealing with, and it is contributing to the high death rate among youngsters. When it comes to overcrowding, poverty is the most visible symptom.

Unemployment

A global population growth had it’s effect on the economy, where it caused a boost of labor demand. When a country gets overpopulated, there are fewer jobs available to support a high number of people, resulting in unemployment. Increase in labor demand will give rise to labor supply, decreasing wages. And in a situation of labor surplus, the quality of jobs may not improve as fast, for workers will settle for longer hours, fewer benefits, and less control over work activities.

High Living Costs

The price of numerous necessary commodities, such as food, shelter, and healthcare, rises as the gap between demand and supply widens owing to overpopulation. People will have to pay more to survive and feed their family as a result of this.

Pandemics and Epidemics

Poverty is connected to a variety of environmental and socioeconomic factors, such as overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions, hunger, and inaccessible, inadequate, or non-existent health care, all of which increase the risk of infection among the poor. Furthermore, large population densities enhance the likelihood of new pandemics and epidemics arising.

Malnutrition, famine, and starvation

When resources are short, famine, malnutrition, as well as ill health and diseases caused by a lack of nutrition, such as rickets, are more common. Famine is usually linked with less developed areas, and there is a strong link between poverty and famine.

Water Scarcity

Only about 1% of the world’s water is fresh and usable. The growth of global population resulted in the pressure on water, the only valuable resource that has a finite rate of supply.
According to the study, by 2025, human demand for freshwater will account for almost 70% of all freshwater available on the earth. People living in impoverished communities who already have limited access to such water will be particularly vulnerable.

The fact that population growth is exceeding total amount of water available proves the slow process of water replenishing in groundwater sources, or aquifers, that are almost considered nonrenewable sources.

Shorter Life Expectancy

Less developed countries account for a major percentage of global population growth. As a result, less-developed countries suffer from reduced life expectancy as a result of population growth.
This results in a scarcity of resources in these countries, resulting in decreased access to medical care, freshwater, food, and jobs, as well as a severe drop in their GDP.

Extinction

Overpopulation has a devastating effect on the world’s fauna. As the demand for land grows, natural habitats, such as forests, are increasingly being destroyed.
Data has also been gathered to demonstrate a direct correlation between human population growth and extinction of species on the world. According to some scientists, up to half of the world’s biological species would face extinction if current trends continue.

Solutions to Overpopulation

The main question of addressing the issue of overpopulation is how to come to grips with the issue that is growing above its limits. Environmental activists and experts on population argue that global governance is a key element in implementing measures, but the global network cannot enforce laws and exert social pressures equally among nations. For a global population change to be seen, international institutions must set goals for domestic institutions to accomplish within their own borders. This seems impossible, as certain countries aim to reduce carbon emissions, while others utilize natural resources to acquire material gain. However, if nations force each other to ratify treaties for the well-being of the global community, then the world is already one step ahead to control environmental degradation. The treaties have the power to enforce further environmental efforts and are likely to lead countries to an effective policy on population control that will focus on domestic deficiencies, such as lack of education among young women.

Education also plays a vital role in making people understand the consequences of have more children. Families that are facing a hard life and choose to have four or five children should be discouraged.

Family planning and efficient birth control can help in women making their own reproductive choices. Open dialogue on abortion and voluntary sterilization should be seen when talking about overpopulation.

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