Overpopulation and the Environment

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Overpopulation and the Environment The current world's population is approximately six billion people, and the amount of time that it takes for the population to increase by another billion is decreasing with each billion. According to the World Population Data sheet, there will be about eight billion people by the year 2020, and this is due to its continuation of growth (Southwick 159). A clear understanding of the causes and what might possibly happen is the first step to dealing with the population crisis. The world's human population has been growing in what has been described as a j-shaped curve. In the early 1900's, the world's population numbered nearly two billion; it has more than tripled since then (Southwick 159). There are three theories or models for population growth. The Malthusian theory predicts that human misery and eventual catastrophe will be the limiting factors for world population. Logistic theory predicts that there will be some sort of gradual resolution as humans adapt and are able to support a population between eight and ten billion. The domed model of growth predicts that between eight and ten billion will signal overpopulation, so a readjustment of to lower levels would be attained (Southwick 159). These three theories are important because each has different implications for the environment. Most ecologists consider human population growth to be one of the most pressing problems contributing to environmental degradation. Human population growth works in conjunction with excessive consumption to threaten global environmental stability (Southwick 160). It can be argued that a larger world population leads to an increase in human capital, thus making it possible to increase the world's standard of living. However, twenty percent of the world's population, including one third of the world's children are hungry or malnourished; twenty percent have inadequate housing or are homeless; one third have poor health care and insufficient fuel to cook or keep warm; twenty-five percent of adults are illiterate; the depressing statistics continue (Southwick 160). Dr. Julian Simon believes that the world is making progress because people are living longer and more fulfilling lives compared to their forebears, but he ignores the fact that there are also more people living in misery and destitution as well (Southwick 161). The statistics do not support Simon's argument, and they make a strong case for the need to be aware of population growth as an environmental problem. Most scientists feel that a world population of between one and two billion can live on the Earth in a sustainable manner and with a reasonable standard of living (Southwick 161).
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