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Overpopulation is a highly unfavorable condition characterized by the total number of people on Earth exceeding its carrying capacity. Overpopulation is caused by positive changes in people’s welfare: better health care, higher life expectancy, reduced rates of mortality, etc. Technological advances improving the quality of life and increasing lifespan lead to the unceasing population growth. As a result, even wars, natural disasters, and man-made threats are unable to balance birth rates (Pimentel, 2006).
The essay at hand is going to analyze the existing problem investigating its causes and effects. The primary objective is to highlight the deplorable consequences of overpopulation and thereby persuade people not to overpopulate. Possible solutions will also be suggested.
Causes of Overpopulation
- Reduced death rates. Overpopulation appears when births outnumber deaths. Currently, there are many factors that may increase death rates for a short period of time such as wars or natural calamities. However, the above-mentioned positive factors increasing the number of births are more influential and sustainable (Pimentel, 2006).
- Better health care. Discoveries in medicine help people struggle successfully against a whole range of diseases that were previously considered terminal (Jargin, 2009).
- Need for bigger families to overcome poverty. In the past, poor people gave birth to a lot of children to make up for high mortality rates among babies. Besides, such families always needed working hands. Nowadays, most children survive creating overpopulation (Pimentel, 2006).
- Fertility treatment. It is now possible for partners who are unable to conceive to have a baby after they undergo fertility treatment. Besides, the course of pregnancy is much safer due to technological advances in the field (Pimentel, 2006).
- Immigration. People from developing countries often opt to move to areas more comfortable for living. Although the overall population of the planet remains unchanged with immigration, it creates overcrowded areas and causes resource shortages (Jargin, 2009).
- Neglect of family planning. The population of developing countries is mostly illiterate and is completely unaware of family planning. Besides, people there usually get married at an early age to increase the chances of having more children (Jargin, 2009).
Effects of Overpopulation
Very few people understand how severe the consequences of overpopulation can be. It is not regarded as a big issue even by the world governments, which do not take measures to prevent it (e.g. China has recently abolished the policy restricting the number of children in a family). However, there exist weighty arguments about why people should stop overpopulation. Some of them are (Kuo, 2012):
- Depletion of natural resources. The current needs for food and water already go far beyond Earth’s capacity. People not only consume more than the planet can offer but also do irreparable damage to the environment (which increases proportionally with the population growth). If we do not stop overpopulation, the planet will run a huge risk of total resource depletion. At present, the lack of resources causes acts of violence at the national scale and provokes global conflicts.
- Destruction of the environment. Overpopulation implies a greater number of vehicles. Their emissions coupled with industrial wastes pollute the air and kill wildlife. Moreover, they create a greenhouse effect and change climatic patterns. Therefore, continuing overpopulation will lead to another global climatic catastrophe, which may result in the extinction of our species.
- Armed conflicts. As has already been mentioned, countries confront one another fighting for resources. Conflicts over water and food lead to starvation.
- Poverty. Overpopulation accounts for aggravation of poverty. A lot of people who survive due to the advancement of medicine live in societies that cannot provide enough resources for a large population. It means that the majority of citizens have to stay below the poverty line. Unless the measures against overpopulation are taken, developing countries will have to deal with the enormous gap between the rich and the poor.
- Increasing unemployment. A growing population needs jobs to earn a living. Unfortunately, the number of vacancies is limited. Staying without any occupation makes people engage in criminal activities such as stealing or even murder.
- High costs of living. Overpopulation exerts a negative influence on the world economy. With more and more babies born every day, the difference between supply and demand becomes huger. Besides, the goods and services produced are not distributed equally: generally, areas that are the most densely populated suffer from the lack of food, clothing, health care, shelter, and basic modern conveniences (leaving alone luxury goods) whereas developed countries encounter the problem of oversaturation. Despite such differences, prices continue to grow everywhere. which means that people are forced to pay more and more to survive. In the long run, unless the problem is solved, huge regions will not be able to afford even basic elements of living.
As it is evident from the analysis, overpopulation deals not only with dissatisfaction caused by having to tolerate more neighbors but rather presents a threat to the whole humanity that will have to encounter wars, poverty, and famine if it fails to find the way out.
Possible Solutions to Overpopulation
No matter how grave the problem might be, there are still measures that can be taken to stop overpopulation. These are (Pencheon, 2012):
- Better awareness. Social changes must begin with attempts to increase awareness of the problem. Governments can impose various policies and laws but their effectiveness will directly depend on the attitude of the mass population. People must understand the necessity to have no more than two children.
- The right to make a reproductive choice. Women must be able to have an abortion if they decide that they cannot afford to raise a child. Voluntary sterilization should also be allowed as an option.
- Promotion of family planning. Since many families simply do not know anything about family planning, it is important to teach them various methods of contraception that make it possible to prevent an undesired pregnancy.
- Introduction of family policies, tax benefits, or concessions. Governments may choose between positive and negative reinforcements: they can introduce policies punishing families that have more children than it is allowed with additional taxes or, on the contrary, they can lower the income tax for those who do not have children or have only one child. Financial motivation is usually very strong and makes people reconsider their decisions.
- Sex education for children. A lot of parents feel embarrassed to discuss sex-related issues with children, which results in dangerous, unprotected sexual activities and unwanted pregnancies. This can be avoided with proper education in the subject.
Human overpopulation now ranges among the most pressing world problems. Without our awareness, it exacerbates the hidden forces that trigger global warming, deterioration of the environment, extinction of species, air pollution, depletion of natural resources, and other damages happening at speeds that are much faster than our planet’s capacity for regeneration. It means that if we continue ignoring the problem, sooner or later we may be left without a place to populate.
Jargin, S. V. (2009). Overpopulation and modern ethics. SAMJ: South African Medical Journal, 99(8), 572-573.
Kuo, G. (2012). MegaCrisis? Overpopulation Is the Problem. World Future Review, 4(3), 23-32.
Pencheon, D. (2012). People and planet: from vicious cycle to virtuous circle: Overpopulation, poverty, and environmental degradation share common solutions. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 345(7864), 9-23.
Pimentel, D. (2006). Overpopulation and sustainability. Petroleum Review, 59(1), 34-36.