Jacques Cousteau once said “Overconsumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we face today.”
In today’s world, overpopulation is often overlooked as people believe there are conflicts of greater significance occurring in the world. Overpopulation occurs primarily for the millions of people who are living in poor circumstances because the resources are not being distributed fairly throughout the globe. Although Thomas Malthus’ theory of resources increasing linearly while population increases exponentially is proven to be outdated and incorrect, overpopulation is still a huge conflict for the world. This is primarily because of three events that are a direct impact of it: the displacement and extinction of wildlife, the destruction humans provide for the environment, and the aggravation of global warming.According to EverythingConnects, “Compared to the natural background rate of one extinction per million species per year, we are now losing 30,000 species per year, or three species per hour, which is faster than new species can evolve.” The graph below further explains the correlation between the extinction of species and the human population.
As the population continues to grow, wildlife will continue to die because the available space on Earth will continue to disappear. Natural resources such as arable land and fossil fuels are slowly depleting in quantity as well, creating a not so sustainable lifestyle for people around the world. While the numbers of people and pets rise, the wildlife surrounding them slowly starts to diminish. As the Population Media Center says, “The more there are of us, the less there is of everything else.” 96 to 98 percent of the mass of mammals on Earth is people, livestock, or our pets while the rest of mammals living on Earth only make up to two to four percent. Many people think differently when it comes to this situation as some do not see a conflict and are indifferent while others have strong opinions on the topic.
Although the population itself is constantly growing, the influence humankind has on the environment is vital when it comes to the destruction we make on the environment as well. Since people have a lifestyle where most of the things they see in their everyday life are manufactured, they grab the tendency to destroy the environment — whether it be unintentional — to fit their personal desires. An example would include taking trees down to create a building which will eventually become a CD shop.
Furthermore, overpopulation is a huge factor behind the rapid spread of any diseases and any potential pandemics. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic affected us globally and overpopulation is one of the reasons it is still a conflict in first world countries like America. Although social distancing and quarantining is crucial for the widespread pandemic to come to an end, the overpopulated protests unfolding this year also caused COVID-19 to spread at a faster rate no matter how important the protest might be.
The crime rates also rise heavily as the population grows because the quantity and quality of resources and basic necessities such as water and food will decrease. People feel the need to fight and steal resources that we caused to go scarce in the first place. As Aisha Tariq of the Pakistan Times states, “It has been observed that the countries which have a balanced population, crime rate is very low in such regions.” This is primarily because the number of resources available directly correlates with the number of people who live in that specific area. As the number or people who live in a region increase, the number of resources available to use decrease.
Although it is pivotal to look at the effects of overpopulation, the causes are just as significant. One of the major causes of overpopulation is the falling mortality rate around the world. Recently, the number of reliable medical advancements began to rise as scientists and researchers are finding new ways to cure common diseases, keeping several more people alive then in the past. Overpopulation only recently became a conflict due to this reason. These medical advancements also allow the birth rates to rise, keeping more babies alive globally.
When Malthus gave his theory, he must have not realized the improvements and advancements that will come in the near future, such as agricultural improvements and the understanding that more crops can give more nourishment at a smaller quantity. Crops also thrive for a longer time nowadays so more people can have more of the resources the agricultural industry provides.
Global warming is the average increase of global temperature on Earth caused by pollutants such as carbon dioxide. A human’s lifestyle is based around manufactured materials that give them what they desire in life. As the number of humans grows, so do the number of demands for fossil fuels such as coal that is retrieved from under the Earth’s surface. This gives off more carbon dioxide, which traps warm air.
Overpopulation, as small of a concern it might be for people now, is slowly starting to damage the planet. There is a chance for new advancements from creative minds, but with the number of negative effects of overpopulation, that risk might not be worth it. Although there is no clear way of stopping overpopulation, taking care of the environment you live in can help the world immensely.