What is Overpopulation? | 2021 (Causes, Effects & Solutions)

What is Overpopulation? | 2021

Population growth on a global scale has accelerated dramatically in the last half-century. Almost eight billion people live on the planet in 2021, and this number is expected to grow significantly in a relatively short period of time.

When it comes to environmental challenges facing the world today, overpopulation is one that often goes unnoticed because it is so pervasive. Pollution, climate change, and water scarcity all appear to be taking precedence, but overpopulation is one of the primary contributors to a wide range of environmental problems.

Because of overpopulation, there will be a significant strain on resources and land, resulting in widespread environmental problems as well as negative consequences for global economies and living standards.

The problem is exacerbated by the difficulty in providing solutions to this problem, as well as by the widespread misunderstanding of the causes and consequences of overpopulation in the general public.

We will discuss both the causes and the consequences of overpopulation in this section so that you can gain a better understanding of the dangers that overpopulation poses.

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Causes of Over Population

The causes of overpopulation vary from country to country, but they are generally associated with poverty, lower mortality rates, limited access to medical care, poor contraceptive use, and immigration. Overpopulation results in a reduction in available resources as well as an increase in the symptoms of illness and disease. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the overpopulation of the world’s population. The following are the primary reasons:

Poverty

Poverty is widely considered to be the most significant contributor to overpopulation. Because of a scarcity of educational resources, coupled with high death rates that result in higher birth rates, impoverished areas have experienced significant population increases.

Since the impact is so widespread, the United Nations has predicted that the forty-eight poorest countries in the world will also be the largest contributors to population growth in the coming decades. According to their projections, the combined population of these countries will more than double by 2050, reaching 1.7 billion from 850 million in 2010.

Poor Contraceptive Use

Despite the fact that contraceptives are widely available in developed countries, poor planning on the part of both partners can result in unexpected pregnancies in these countries. According to statistics, 76 percent of women between the ages of 16 and 49 in the United Kingdom used at least one form of contraception, leaving a quarter of the population vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies.

When it comes to underdeveloped areas, this is a particularly difficult problem to solve. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), this figure drops to 43 percent in countries where issues such as poverty, which leads to higher birth rates, are prevalent.

Child Labor

Children are still employed in large numbers in many parts of the world, despite the fact that it is distressing to hear. According to UNICEF, approximately 150 million children are currently employed, the majority of whom live in countries with lax enforcement of child labor laws.

Poor families may come to view their children as a source of income, which can lead to them being treated as such. Furthermore, children who begin working at a young age miss out on educational opportunities that they should have had, particularly in the area of contraception and family planning.

Reduced Mortality Rates

The advancement of medical technology has resulted in lower mortality rates for a variety of serious diseases. With the help of such advancements, particularly dangerous viruses and diseases such as polio, smallpox, and measles have been virtually eliminated from the world.

While this is encouraging news in many ways, it also indicates that people are living longer lives than they have in the past. Because of this “delay” in the natural cycle of life and death, birth rates have outpaced death rates by a factor of more than two to one in modern times.

Fertility Treatment

The availability of improved fertility treatments has made it possible for more people to have children, despite the fact that it is a minor factor in comparison to the other causes of overpopulation.

Since the inception of fertility treatments, the number of women who have used them has steadily increased in number. Most women now have the option of becoming pregnant, even if they may not have been able to do so in the past due to medical treatments.

Immigration

Without restriction, immigration into countries may result in overpopulation to the point where those countries are unable to provide for their growing populations with the resources they require. This is particularly problematic in countries where the number of immigrants far outnumbers the number of people leaving.

Immigration may be motivated by a desire to flee overpopulation in their home countries, but it is possible that they will only contribute to the same problems in the countries where they settle. Immigration, on the other hand, has been shown to have a positive effect on the economy, with the effect being particularly noticeable in the United Kingdom.

Effects of Overpopulation

Overpopulation has a number of negative consequences, the most significant of which is the increased demand for resources to support a large population, which can result in significant pollution and other negative consequences for the environment. A quick depletion of these resources can have a negative impact on healthcare in many countries, as well as devastate the land on which we live.

Lack of Water

Overpopulation increases the demand on the world’s freshwater resources, which are already stretched thin. Due to the fact that only about 1% of the world’s fresh water is readily available, this presents a significant problem.

According to some estimates, human demand for fresh water will account for approximately 70 percent of the total amount of fresh water available on the planet by 2025. Those who live in impoverished areas, who already have limited access to such water, will be particularly vulnerable as a result of this.

Lower Life Expectancy

While higher life expectancy is contributing to population growth in developed countries, lower life expectancy may be a result of the population explosions that are taking place in less developed countries, according to some estimates.

A large proportion of the world’s population growth occurs in less developed countries, according to the United Nations Population Division. This causes the resources available to these countries to be stretched thinner, resulting in less access to medical care, fresh water, food, and employment opportunities, all of which contribute to a decrease in life expectancy.

Extinction

The impact of human overpopulation on the world’s wildlife is also a significant concern. As the demand for land increases, so does the destruction of natural habitats such as forests, which are becoming increasingly rare.

According to some scientists, if current trends continue, as many as 50% of the world’s wildlife species will be threatened with extinction. The data gathered so far has also revealed a direct link between increases in the human population and decreases in the number of species that exist on the planet.

Resource Consumption

As the world’s population continues to grow, the amount of resources required to keep so many people alive increases as well. There has been an unprecedented increase in demand for food, water, and fossil fuels, putting increased pressure on farmers, as well as the environment.

Ironically, it is the discovery of many of these natural resources – particularly fossil fuels – that has contributed to the creation of conditions that are conducive to population growth and development. According to a recent study, the world’s ecosystem changed at a faster rate in the latter half of the twentieth century than at any other time in history, owing to the increased use of resources.

Increased Intensive Farming

Agriculture has evolved to produce enough food to feed an increasing number of people as the world’s population has grown over the years, thanks to population growth. Extensive farming methods, on the other hand, cause damage to local ecosystems and the land, which may lead to future problems in this area.

Furthermore, because of the large amount of machinery required, intensive farming is considered to be a significant contributor to climate change. If the population continues to grow at its current rate, this effect will almost certainly become more pronounced.

Faster Climate Change

Overpopulation is a direct cause of climate change, particularly as larger countries such as China and India continue to develop their industrial capacities. They are now, along with the United States, two of the world’s top three contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

Human activities are changing global temperatures, according to 97 percent of the scientific community. Individual carbon footprints on a large scale are likely to increase as populations grow, especially if more is not done to reduce individual carbon footprints.

Overpopulation Solutions

Overpopulation solutions are required in order to mitigate the negative consequences of overpopulation. The rapid development of a country will result in a significant increase in its population. It will be easier in these countries to control their populations if they have access to education, contraceptives, and sound public policy.

Better Sex Education

In many countries, a lack of sex education – or a lack of properly implemented education – has resulted in overpopulation problems. The problem is so severe that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is calling for changes to be implemented, particularly in less developed countries around the world.

People will gain a better understanding of the potential consequences of having sexual relations in relation to childbirth as a result of improved education. It will also dispel many of the myths that have surrounded the sexual act and introduce scientifically-proven methods of contraception into the mainstream.

Access to Contraceptives

Access to birth control must go hand in hand with improved sex education, according to experts. After all, without it, people will be unable to put into practice what they have learned.

WHO estimates that 225 million women in developing countries would prefer to delay having children, but do not use any form of contraception to accomplish this goal. An increasing number of organizations, such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), are also in favor of expanding access to contraceptive methods.

Changes in Policy

Many countries provide incentives to those who have more children, whether in the form of financial incentives or increased benefits. Some couples may end up having more children than they would have otherwise if they didn’t have to worry about the financial consequences of their decisions.

This is a difficult issue to deal with head-on. Although China’s “One-Child Policy” was recently abandoned, it was largely due to the restrictions it placed on freedom, and it is likely that similar policies would be viewed in the same way.

Education on the Subject

The subject of overpopulation is not adequately covered in schools, despite the fact that a number of organizations exist to provide curricula and teaching materials to schools to address the issue, which is a shame given the importance of the subject.

This education should go beyond simply discussing sex and include information on the global consequences of overpopulation. It is necessary to have a more open discussion about the subject, with websites such as debate.org providing useful resources that allow the issue to be confronted rationally.

Conclusion

Overpopulation is a crisis that, along with climate change, has the potential to be one of the most serious challenges facing humanity in our modern age.

Although this is the case, there is little in the way of education or dialogue about the subject, particularly in schools.

If this does not change, the issues discussed in this article may continue to worsen unabated in the coming years. If that happens, this one issue could have a cascading effect that will result in a slew of other issues in the future, as well.

If you would like to add your own thoughts on overpopulation to the discussion, please do so in the comments section below. Instead, you could share this article on social media to start a discussion in your own neighborhood.

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Featured Image Credit: James Cridland @ Flickr