Technology Is the Solution to Overpopulation

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Technology is the Solution to Overpopulation

About ten years ago while in a science museum, I saw a counter that estimated what the world population was at that given moment. Innocuous at first glance, since a number in excess of five billion is difficult to comprehend, what became alarming after watching the counter for a minute was the continual increase in the population. Thinking about the circumstances related to the population rise logically made the problem seem apparent. The earth is finite both in terms of physical size and in resources but the population is growing towards an infinite value. At some point the steadily rising population will move from being a problem that is geographically distant to one that is immediate and more salient than just an increasing value on a faceless counter.

This problem of population growth leads to a number of solutions that could have significant implications on the quality of life. Taking no action and allowing population to grow unchecked could possibly risk the entire human species if food or clean water were to become unavailable worldwide. Aiming for zero population growth would in theory maintain the existing quality of life since a stable population would not increase their use of resources. However not all resources are renewable, so scarcities could still occur with a fixed population size. In an extreme case permanent resource depletion under zero population growth could have the same extinction effect that unchecked growth can lead to. Despite the escalating risk of unchecked population growth, technological advances necessitated by the increase in population will at least maintain the quality of life and could possibly improve conditions.

Southwick in “Global Ecology in Human Perspective” says that human population has increased geometrically over the past two millennia. With a high number of people in their reproductive age the potential for continued growth is likely. Southwick says that...
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