Overpopulation is a generally undesirable condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth, or smaller geographical areas such as countries. Overpopulation can result from an increase in births, a decline in mortality rates, an increase in immigration, or an unsustainable biome and depletion of resources. It is possible for very sparsely populated areas to be overpopulated if the area has a meager or non-existent capability to sustain life (e.g. a desert).
The population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, around the year 1400, although the most significant increase has been in the last 50 years, mainly due to medical advancements and increases in agricultural productivity. Although the rate of population growth has been declining since the 1980s, the United Nations has expressed concern on continued excessive population growth in sub-Saharan Africa. As of January 7, 2012 the world human population is estimated to be 6.986 billion by the United States Census Bureau, and over 7 billion by the United Nations Most estimates for the carrying capacity of the Earth are between 4 billion and 16 billion. Depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may or may not have already occurred. Nevertheless, the rapid recent increase in human population is causing some concern. The population is expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040 and 2050. In May 2011, the United Nations increased the medium variant projections to 9.3 billion for 2050 and 10.1 billion for 2100.
The recent rapid increase in human population over the past two centuries has raised concerns that the planet may not be able to sustain present or larger numbers of inhabitants. Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, has said, “Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be”. The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth has stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, are aggravated by the population expansion. Other problems associated with overpopulation include the increased demand for resources such as fresh water and food, starvation and malnutrition, consumption of natural resources faster than the rate of regeneration (such as fossil fuels), and a decrease in living conditions. However, some believe that waste and over-consumption, especially by wealthy nations, is the force putting strain on the environment, not overpopulation.
Limiting birth rates through legal regulations, educating people about family planning, increasing access to birth control and contraception, and extraterrestrial settlement have been suggested as ways to mitigate overpopulation in the future. China and other nations already have regulations limiting the birth rate, with China using the one child policy. Contraception is a response to the fact that nearly 40% of pregnancies are unintended and that in the poorest regions mothers often lack information and the means to control the size of their families.
Causes of Overpopulation
Decline in the Death Rate: The fall in death rates that is decline in mortality rate is one fundamental causes of overpopulation. Owing to the advancements in medicine, man has found cures to the previously fatal diseases. The new inventions in medicine have brought in treatments for most of the dreadful diseases. This has resulted in an increase in the life expectancy of individuals. Mortality rate has declined leading to an increase in population. Owing to modern medications and improved treatments to various illnesses, the overall death rate has gone down. The brighter side of it is that we have been able to fight many diseases and prevent deaths. On the other hand, the medical boon has brought with it, the curse of overpopulation.
Rise in the Birth Rate: Thanks to the new discoveries in nutritional science, we have been able to bring in increase in the fertility rates of human beings. Medicines of today can boost the reproductive rate in human beings. There are medicines and treatments, which can help in conception. Thus, science has led to an increase in birth rate. This is certainly a reason to be proud and happy but advances in medicine have also become a cause of overpopulation.
Migration: Immigration is a problem in some parts of the world. If the inhabitants of various countries migrate to a particular part of the world and settle over there, the area is bound to suffer from the ill effects of overpopulation. If the rates of emigration from a certain nation do not match the rates of immigration to that country, overpopulation makes its way. The country becomes overly populated. Crowding of immigrants in certain parts of the world, results in an imbalance in the density of population.
Lack of Education: Illiteracy is another important cause of overpopulation. Those lacking education fail to understand the need to prevent excessive growth of population. They are unable to understand the harmful effects that overpopulation has. They are unaware of the ways to control population. Lack of family planning is commonly seen in the illiterate lot of the world. This is one of the major factors leading to overpopulation. Due to ignorance, they do not take to family planning measures, thus contributing to a rise in population.
Effects of Overpopulation
Overpopulation has a definite effect on a country’s economy. First of all, when countries are overpopulated, the hardly have enough food to support themselves, never mind the hope of having a surplus to sell. This can contribute to a low GDP per Capita which is effect overpopulation has on the economy. In an attempt to save the people from the starvation, the government will most likely have to rely on foreign debt. This puts the country in debt at stretches the government’s already meagre resources. Furthermore, when a country is overpopulated, there is a high rate of unemployment because there just aren’t enough jobs to support the population. This results in a high level of crime because the people will need to steal things in order to survive
Solutions of Overpopulation
Overpopulation effects are famously documented. Apart from the food and mineral scarcities, it is commonly agreed by other members of nature that humans are a troublesome lot and too many of us for too long will effectively lead to the ruin of the earth – as testified by a lot of the movies and more seriously by one Thomas Malthus who gave the world the very interesting theory of population. Jokes apart, overpopulation solutions need to be humane and quite frankly doable. So here are some of the overpopulation solutions, which might ease overpopulation problems.
Education : It is one of the most commonly agreed causes of overpopulation that a lot of the uneducated people have more penurious children and the whole lack of family planning is due to the stark absence of basic education. If they had been educated, they would be forewarned against the effects of overpopulation and their own inability to nurture their children well enough. Education will also help people understand the problems of overpopulation and those associated with bringing up children as well. Hence, one of the best overpopulation solutions is to provide good basic education to all the people in the country, so that they may learn the ills of overpopulation and exercise restraint.
Family Planning : So, while it may be inhuman to neutralize other people’s bollocks, surely family planning drives must be conducted in the country in order to educate people about the ills of population growth. Most countries these days have a family planning division in the government – one of the very effective solutions to overpopulation – that help married couples understand the problems of overpopulation and encourage others to either exercise abstinence or educate people about safe sex techniques and arm them with adequate knowledge of contraceptives. Family planning drives in the hinterlands of the countries is one of the best government sponsored overpopulation solutions.
Tax Breaks : Overpopulation facts will tell you that a lot of countries have implemented this and with good success. It follows the rather simple assumption that given the inherently greedy nature of us humans, if you dangle a carrot in front of us, we will surely give in and grab it. By offering lowered income tax rates or tax deductions to married couples who exercise restraint and choose to not produce more than one or two children, overpopulation can be curbed at a national level, if not an international level. Conversely, couples with more than three children can be taxed heavily. And while people from countries which are more open minded will surely find themselves averse to this, one can still not ignore that this is one of the very good overpopulation solutions, as it will help people stop producing children, as they are given a more favorable deal.
Sex-Ed : Talking about the birds and the bees is viewed as a taboo in a lot of cultures, but when the overpopulation problem is so glaring, moral correctness ought to take a hike. Sex education needs to be made mandatory in schools in which while students come out strapping young lads knowing all about the 3rd root of 27 have no clue about how to use basic contraceptives and birth control like condoms and birth control pills. Sex education is also something that parents tend to defer for a long time – often after the kids have done it the first time anyway. Hence, it is one of the most important overpopulation solutions that we shed the old inhibitions and the facade of morality for the greater good.
Health Care : Go into the most backward sections of the developing nations and their patriarchs will tell you that owing to an infernally high infant mortality rate and deaths of mothers, they have extra children – just in case. No jokes here, readers. People actually assume that their children will die at a young age and hence prefer to have more of them. So by providing the children and new mothers proper health care, is one of the best solutions to overpopulation as their mortality rates will be reduced and this deuce of an assumption of infant death will be done away with.