Overpopulation has become one of the main challenging trends over the past centuries. Governments accept the fact that they are no longer capable of managing this problem. According to Rieder, the significant aftermath of this event is that “the Earth will, at some point, be unable to provide for our population, even without more growth” (2). Commonly proposed ways of solving the problem and treating its current consequences are widely discussed in the literature. The purpose of this paper is to examine the causes and effects of overpopulation, potential threats to society, and the ecosystem, as well as the ways to overcome the problem.
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The United Nations (UN) forecasts that the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion in 30 years. Despite the aging population and downtrend of fertility in European countries, the amount of people is growing because of developing states. For example, the people in Africa is expected to double by 2050 (Uniyal et al. 21). Scientists provide numerous reasons for overpopulation, which include historical, sociological, psychological, and other factors (Uniyal et al. 21). It is commonly believed that overpopulation is caused by the growth of natality, the decrease of mortality, and migration flows. Other causes are attributed to cultural and religious beliefs as well as lack of education (Farraji et al. 16). Overall, there is a complex set of multiple interrelated reasons that should be examined altogether.
Overpopulation carries many environmental and social risks. Approximately 40% of the land is used for agriculture, and this figure has to grow to keep up with the growth of the population (Uniyal et al. 22). To cover up the scarcity of food, companies, and farmers are required to increase production. Therefore, a fragile balance of the global ecosystem is directly and indirectly threatened by harmful human activities. Uniyal et al. state that “deforestation, the effect on welfare, climate change, the decline in biocapacity, urban sprawl, food security, increase in energy demand and effect on the marine ecosystem are amongst most severe impacts of overpopulation” (20). Overpopulation affects the overall well-being of the society: thus, overcrowded urban cities demonstrate high rates of unemployment and unhappiness.
There are several ways of reducing the rate of overpopulation, and the main actors responsible for implementing proper policies are the national governments. Chen suggests that governments should provide citizens with affordable healthcare and social security (57). Actions such as the promotion of smaller families, gender equality, and education are considered to be effective by the UN (Farraji et al. 16). Additionally, young people should have easy access to birth control. Developing countries must create partnerships with major non-governmental organizations to fight the threat. Including these measures on the agenda may help to reduce poverty and depletion of resources.
Sustaining a population remains a great struggle, and it is going to impact the development of society. Overpopulation is caused by a set of various anthropological and natural reasons. It imposes a massive risk for life on Earth due to the exploitation of natural resources and makes the lifestyle of future generations more challenging. If the issue is not treated, the surplus population will highly likely face the scarcity of food, accommodation, and fresh air and water. However, the situation may change with the help of a global community and national governance. Many types of research and enthusiasts have proposed a system of actions, such as the adoption of “small family” policies and welfare.
Chen, Ying. Trade, Food Security, and Human Rights. Ashgate, 2014.
Farraji, Hossein, et al. “Overpopulation and Sustainable Waste Management.” International Journal of Sustainable Economies Management, vol. 5, no. 3, 2016, pp. 13-36.
Rieder, Travis N. Toward a Small Family Ethic: How Overpopulation and Climate Change are Affecting the Morality of Procreation. Springer Nature, 2016.
Uniyal, Shivani, et al. “Human Overpopulation: Impact on Environment.” Megacities and Rapid Urbanization: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice, edited by Information Resources Management Association, IGI Global, 2019, pp. 20-30.