Essay PreviewMore ↓
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).
How to Cite this Page
"Overpopulation and the Environment." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Nov 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In today’s society there are many economic problems, such as pollution, global warming, and overpopulation. These problems have taken a toll on the environment, and its resources. Although all of these issues have an impact on our society, overpopulation stands to have the greatest impact on our environment, due to the large masses of people and the limited resources. There are many solutions to this problem but the common factor is the human race. The human race has to put controls in place and take care of the environment, so the required resources do not become extinct.... [tags: Overpopulation, Environment]
932 words (2.7 pages)
- The increasing world’s population is a global issue and becomes a source of anxiety for many scholars and decision makers around the globe. U.S. Census Bureau estimated that population growth will persist into the 21st century, growing from 6 billion in 1999 to 9 billion by 2044 (2010). In a longer term, it is also projected that human population may keep increasing up to 36.4 billion in 2300 (United Nations, 2003). Population upsurge is considered a centre piece for a range of problems world would encounter in the future.... [tags: Overpopulation, Environment]
899 words (2.6 pages)
- Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said, “Overconsumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we face today” (“Population,” Internet). With the current statistics, Jacques could not be more accurate. Every second, 4.2 people are born and 1.8 people die, which would be a net gain of 2.4 people per second (“Population,” Internet). At this steady rate, the environmental health is spiraling downwards, and it is safe to assume humans are responsible for this. As the population increases, harmful effects on the land, water, and air also do.... [tags: environmental health, megacities, overpopulation]
2004 words (5.7 pages)
- The human population has continued to grow through the decades. The increasingly large number of people that have become apart of the world population has become a major problem. The consequences of the world being over populated has numerous effects which include: Environmental effects, depletion of natural resources, effects on the economy, food and water instability, and mass species extinction. Without a solution to the rise in human population, by the year 2020, 8 billion people will live on earth and by the year 2050, 9 billion people will inhabit the planet.... [tags: Overpopulation, Environment]
846 words (2.4 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Environment Environmental Pollution Preservation]
1472 words (4.2 pages)
- There are many kinds of environment: the physical environment often thought of as nature, psychological environments built out of human interactions, and political environments rife with manipulation and posturing. While there are some obvious effects that large human populations would have on the natural environment, there are also less evident psychological and political ramifications. Thus, overpopulation is today's most pressing environmental issue. Acclaimed hermit Henry David Thoreau once wrote that humans have plenty of space.... [tags: Overpopulation, Environment]
1208 words (3.5 pages)
- “We are burdensome to the world, the resources are scarcely adequate for us.” Tertullian, a philosopher from the third century had said this about our world when the population was mere 200 million. This statement can be taken two different ways. The first would be to think that our resources are limited and we need to be worried. The second would be to say people have been worried about overpopulation forever but everything seems to have worked out. Now there may only be two sides to Tertullian’s statement but the issue he touches base with certainly can be extended beyond that.... [tags: Overpopulation, Environment]
1074 words (3.1 pages)
- The Damaging Impact of Overpopulation on the Environment 6.5 billion…This is not a whole lot of bacteria, but when it comes to humans, it is a very formidable number. The human population has been increasing at an extremely high rate in the last century and unfortunately, not much has been done to slow down this process. Undoubtedly, overpopulation is a global issue. It is global because it pertains to all of humanity, but global also means that it affects the whole world, i.e. the environment.... [tags: Exploratory Essays Research Papers]
898 words (2.6 pages)
- The Effects of Overpopulation on the Environment The world population reached 6 billion, on October 12, 1999. It will reach 9.3 billion by 2050. The impacts of continued population growth are already felt by a majority of nations. Overpopulation is the root cause of most environmental problems. The demands of increasing population magnify demands for natural resources, clean air and water, as well as access to wilderness areas. This means an increase in the demand for living space.... [tags: Papers]
491 words (1.4 pages)
- Stories of current times could sound surreal to citizens of the year 2552. Tales of water coming out of the ground, fuel sources called fossil fuels, or vast areas covered in trees would all be stories around the virtual campfire. Lands once known as Africa have become uninhabitable to even the most resilient organisms. At the poles, it is so cold that the fuel lines in vehicles freeze in eleven seconds. The descendants of seven billion people currently inhabiting this world would be faced with hard times if we fail to take action.... [tags: Overpopulation, Environment]
913 words (2.6 pages)
Population growth occurs because there are currently three births for every death. In the past, the crude birth rates were only slightly higher than crude death rates, but with improvements in medicine and economic growth, the death rate fell more than birth rates (Southwick 162). Much of the world's population growth is occurring in less-developed countries, which are unable to support such growth. The causal effect between poverty and population growth can be looked at in two ways. First, population growth causes poverty as the limited resources are depleted and there are too many people for the available goods, resulting in poverty. The other view is that poverty causes high population growth because lack of education, lack of health care, and lack of a reasonable standard of living cause high population growth. Also, parents believe that having many children will ensure that several of them will survive to take care of them in their old age (Southwick 162). Cultures in which children are a form of security encourage high population growth, as children reach reproductive age and have large families.
Much of the growth is happening disproportionately in urban areas. Cities are environmentally harmful because they import many resources for the people that live there, and they export their wastes. They also have an impact on the local and regional meteorology and are centers for social problems such as crime, homelessness, and unemployment to name a few. Cities do offer many amenities such as cultural opportunities, jobs, and education. And there are some good environmental aspects to cities, such as the promotion of efficiency in transportation, housing, utilities; the provision of necessary goods and services; and the accommodation of large numbers of people within a relatively small space. The biggest problem with cities is that people want the benefits of a city while still living in the country (Southwick 169). This leads to urban sprawl and suburbia.
There are several strategies that could alleviate or even solve the population problem. One plan is educating adults and adolescents entering reproductive age about family planning (Southwick 170). However, many social and religious customs discourage contraception and encourage large families. Governments have dealt with the population problem in several ways. First they have simply ignored it (Southwick 178). This is akin to sticking one's head in the sand. Other governments have associated population growth with their national development problems; so have established state-sponsored family planning programs that have been helpful, but not really effective (Southwick 178-179). Third, some governments, such as Singapore's, have used economic incentives to limit family size, such as providing better housing for smaller families and tax breaks for families with two or fewer children (Southwick 179). Another option for governments is coercive action, which could be an assault on basic human rights. Fifth, a combination of education and economic incentive to encourage family planning could be used to bring about a decline in birth rates (Southwick 179). The sixth response is to devise a way to make birth control cheaper, more effective, easier to use, safer, and more widely available. Countries with declining birth rates use the last response, which is providing them with incentives to have more children (Southwick 180). All of these strategies are currently being utilized in countries around the world. Each strategy provides a differing level of effectiveness when dealing with the population problem.
Edwin Dolan proposes three solutions to the overpopulation problem. The first solution which he claims is loved by classical economists is the marginal subsistence solution. He claims that the poorest classes of society are be so disadvantaged, that their survival and reproductive rates will suffer. As the population continues to grow, the next lowest level is pushed down to the subsistence level, and eventually, the excess births of the upper classes are balanced by the excess deaths of the lowest classes (Dolan 59). The second solution is the absolute subsistence level, when eventually everyone reaches subsistence level, and is so exhausted from working that reproduction suffers (Dolan 60). The third solution is praying that a externality will lead to a fall of the birth rate, such as a fad of homosexuality sweeping the globe (Dolan 60-61). These solutions are interesting because they do not prescribe any governmental policies, but instead offer solutions that could naturally occur.
A clear understanding of the causes and possible solutions is the first step to solving the world population crisis. If everyone understood what stress overpopulation places on the environment, they would hopefully do their part to protect our environment.
Dolan, Edwin G., Ch. 5 from "TANSTAAFL: The Economic Strategy for Environmental Crisis" 1974, pp. 55-72.
Hern, Dr. Warren. "Why Are There So Many of Us?" http://www.drhern.com/fulltext/why/paper.html
Malthus, Thomas Robert. An Essay on The Principle of Population
Southwick, Charles H., Ch. 15 from "Global Ecology in Human Perspective" Oxford Univ. Press, 1996, pp. 159-182.