Overpopulation: A Growing Problem
Overpopulation is important because it can, in the long run, create an unsustainable environment. In such a situation, humanity can lead to an end, and the fate of the Vikings is a small sample size compared to a potentially globally extinct human species. These types of potential dangers lead to the emergence of goals to promote sustainable development, which strive “to ensure that expanding consumption levels within a society remain within the carrying capacity of the ecosystem upon which the population depends for sustenance” (Valentine 210). Its effects can potentially put our future descendants into a perilous environment to grow up in. Its main effect is the overuse of Earth’s resources, leads to the increase in world hunger due to the fact that there is a limited supply of food. It also leads to inflation, as more people causes an increased demand on products and services, thus increasing the prices of those goods.
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I care about this issue because, growing up in Los Angeles, California, I can see firsthand the effects of overpopulation in my own hometown. As of December 2018, Los Angeles’s population is estimated to be over 10 million people while growing at a rate of 0.13% this past year, adding to its total as the largest county in California (World Population Review, 2018). I see prices of food increasing at the supermarket, longer lines at every store in town, more crowded amusement parks, and a tragedy of the commons in heavier traffic at more hours of the day than ever before, all as signs that Southern California is becoming too overpopulated to do anything.
The physical environment factors affecting the world population mainly involve the supply of nutritional goods, as an increase in population leads to an increase in hunger due to the fact that food demand will increase, thus increasing the price of food, and thus the increased number of impoverished people will end up starving to death. The stakeholders involved in the issue include those in the United Nations, who are looking to establish a Framework Convention on Population Growth to maintain sustainable population in all the countries of the world. The UN hopes to contain the population outgrowing the food supply by adopting security planning methods that are expected to help slow population growth and lower fertility rates. The biggest challenge in controlling overpopulation is the improvements in the medical fields, because doctors are helping the masses live longer, and thus compounding the population growth along with higher fertility rates.
Present Hypothesis and Relevant Literature
The population bomb journal by S.V. Valentine argues for population control methods as a way to maintain a sustainable environment. It also states that the inability to cut down on global population will hamper poverty alleviation and allow environmental degradation to get worse. The journal questioning if overpopulation is a problem reiterates that the idea of overpopulation is a fairly new problem, as it had previously been viewed as a benefit by monarchs and generals.
The journal entry by the American Journal of Economics & Sociology concluded that the growth of human population has been categorized as a problem only if that growth would have a detrimental effect on humans. It also believes that epidemics and viruses could rise due to the strained health of the ecosystem, which stems from the world’s resources being depleted from overpopulation. It theorizes that the answers to overpopulation will arise from solutions that have yet to be developed.
I collected all of my data from several non-governmental sources. My main source of information is called the Overpopulation Project. It is a website that “studies the environmental impacts of overpopulation and explores humane policies to end population growth around the world” (Overpopulation Research Project, 2018). The research was conducted by multiple college professors both in and out of the United States as well as a group of senior advisors that served as mentors. They were funded from a grant by the Global Challenges Foundation.
The mission of the organization is to propose the United Nations to establish a Framework Convention on Population Growth to maintain sustainable population in all the countries of the world. Overpopulation leads to “excessive family size sends tens of millions of children to bed hungry each night in the developing world, where rapid population growth stresses scarce water, food and space resources beyond safe limits.” In addition, overpopulation leads to “deforestation, ailing coral reefs, and paved over farm lands and wetlands” (Overpopulation Research Project, 2018).
Another source which I will use for reference is Our World in Data. Its mission is to use visualizations in their data to more effectively raise awareness to viewers of the world’s largest problems, and also aims to use its platform to educate the general public among the most powerful changes in our world today. It is a non-profit website that gets its research data from the University of Oxford and the website is published and maintained by the Global Change Data Lab.
I am going to list all of my data in this section by either a table or figure and will explain the results in the next section.
Figure #1 Source: Overpopulation Research Project, 2018
This graph explains the effectiveness of family planning programmes in reducing populations across multiple established nations and among developing countries.
Figure #2 Source: Overpopulation Research Project, 2018
This table shows the correlation between the growing human population with the amount of increasing extinctions.
Figure #3 Source: Overpopulation Research Project, 2018
These graphs show the correlation between the growing world population and how our planet’s resources have been overused in recent decades.
Figure #4 Source: Our World in Data, 2013
This graph shows the estimated growth of the human population in 2100, as well as the annual population growth rate.
Analysis and Discussion
All of the data sources have their own purpose, but all tie together to prove that overpopulation is one of the most important problems in human sociology, and can threaten the future of our planet and our descendants if we do not properly handle the responsibility of controlling the world’s population numbers to create a sustainable environment.
Figure #1 shows how family planning programmes have developed over the years. Its effectiveness is gauged through the graphing of the unit of TFR, or births per woman. As these programmes improved, they were able to be successful enough to reduce more than half of the births per woman rate within fifty years.
Figure #2 shows the correlation between the growing human population with the amount of increasing extinctions, two separate y-axes that shows human extinctions in ten thousands on the left and the population in thousands of millions, or billions, on the right axis. This graph shows how there was a fairly constant, low rate of extinctions until the human population growth exploded starting in 1950, which caused the extinction rate to skyrocket as well since that year.
Figure #3 involves a multitude of graphs that all reveal the correlation between the growing world population and how our planet’s resources have been overused in recent decades. The resources are: carbon dioxide, tropical forest loss, fertilizer consumption, freshwater use, marine fish capture, and transportation vehicles. In fact, as the world population started to climb up from 1900 to 1950, these resources slowly started to get overused. Ever since the baby boom in 1950, the overuse of these resources started to explode as well.
Figure #4 shows the estimated growth of the human population at the year 2100, at an estimate of 11.2 billion people. In the year 2015, the world population consisted of over seven billion people. Most people predict the population to be in the range from nine billion to thirteen billion people by 2100, with a median guess at eleven billion people. Scholars believe that the population growth is not going to end in the near future, and are increasingly alarmed at the trends that may follow if this population issue is not contained soon.
Also, the growth rate is expected to slow down because the rapid slope of the 1950s is not expected to be consistent for the next century. This shows tremendous results already with our population control methods, and could be an indicator of even more overpopulation policies becoming increasingly effective in the future.
There are a few policies that need to be taken place to help solve the problem of overpopulation in the world. One policy is having the United Nations continue to spread the amount of education given to families from family planning programmes, and with an emphasis on developing countries because those countries have the most limited amount of any form of education. Many families in powerful nations are educated and have an understanding of family planning enough already, as shown in Figure #1. That graph also reveals how family planning in low-developing countries needs a lot more room for improvement, as it still needs a much bigger reduction of births per woman to keep up with the lowering rates of established countries like South Korea, Iran, and Thailand. Multiple established governments who have been through the procedure and seen how family planning works need to give funds for the United Nations to educate other, less developed countries about family planning.
Another method could be to convince leaders to exercise human rights and human development. Education is a major factor when controlling population growth because women are being taught on learning their rights and are empowered to make their reproductive choices. In addition, human development can be further advanced by guaranteeing education through secondary school for all. This will be especially effective for girls because women who have completed secondary school statistically average fewer children and have children at an older age than women who have less education. Children also need to be properly educated at an early age on sexuality because it can aid in reducing fertility rates. Such education would include detailed, comprehensive programs teaching young kids on puberty, sexual intercourse, abstinence, birth control, and having respect for their partner’s sexual rights and decisions.
Overpopulation is an issue that could potentially end all of life on Earth because the rapidly growing depletion of our resources could leave our descendants decades and centuries from now in a unsustainable environment to grow up in. Already, we are polluting so much that we are setting record numbers for the amount of species that are going extinct. Our generation has a big responsibility of keeping our planet’s health sustainable enough to hand it off to our following generations when we leave this world.
If we do not take proper action soon to slow down our population, the baby boom will grow even larger and larger over the next hundred or more years. The proposed policies aim to reduce the population numbers, either by preventing births or executing current citizens, and are intended to save humanity from living in a dying, unsustainable world in the long run.
- Is Overpopulation a Problem? Multiple Perspectives on this Perennial Question. (2016). American Journal of Economics & Sociology, 75(4), 843–861. https://doi-org.libproxy.chapman.edu/10.1111/ajes.12157
- Largen, K. J. (2012). The theological problem of overpopulation. Dialog, 51(1), 12–13. Retrieved from http://libproxy.chapman.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001887898&site=eds-live
- Los Angeles County, California Population 2019, worldpopulationreview.com/us-counties/ca/los-angeles-county-population/.
- “Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion.” Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion | Worldwatch Institute, www.worldwatch.org/nine-population-strategies-stop-short-9-billion.
- Overpopulation Research Project. (2018, May 25). A proposal for a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth. Retrieved from https://overpopulation-project.com/2018/05/16/a-proposal-for-a-united-nations-framework-convention-on-population-growth/
- Valentine, S. V. (2010). Disarming the population bomb. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND WORLD ECOLOGY, (2), 120. Retrieved from http://libproxy.chapman.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid&db=edsbl&AN=RN271024410&site=eds-live