June 10, 2012
The Environmental Issue of Overpopulation
As time passes and our world’s population continues to grow, overpopulation is becoming a very serious issue deserving of the upmost acknowledgement and consideration. Throughout history crowding of the earth and the overuse of the world’s natural resources has hardly been a main concern. Today however, with a population of 7 billion people and counting, the diminishment of the earth’s resources has become a more serious issue than ever before.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, overpopulation occurs when a population’s density exceeds the capacity of the environment to supply the health requirements of an individual. In other words, overpopulation happens when the amount of individuals exceeds the amount of resources the individuals require in order to satisfy their most basic needs. Overpopulation has become an issue because our earth can only provide so much for the sustainment of every human life. In the past, more industrialized and populated countries have been main contributors to the pollution and plundering of the Earth. The United Nations reports that population increases have slowed and even stopped in places such as North America, Japan, and Europe. Still, the growth in population of places such as sub-Saharan Africa and south and western Asia has been a significant factor in the increase of the world’s population. “Industrialized countries in the past have done their share of plundering and polluting. But today most such problems occur in developing countries commonly called the Third World, which also happen to be the areas of greatest population growth” (Nat Geo). The global population rises at the rate of 78 million people per year. A problem within the problem of overpopulation is the fact that the fastest growing countries are the least able to afford their large populations. “Africa’s population has tripled since 1960 and continues to grow the fastest. Europe had twice as many people as Africa in 1960. By 2050 experts estimate there will be three times as many Africans as Europeans” (Nat Geo). The idea of more people may not seem like a big deal, but it is a huge deal when everyone’s most basic needs cannot be met because there are too many people. The United Nations believes that as the 21st century approaches, more than a billion people will lack their most basic needs. Nearly three-fifths of the 4.8 people in developing countries lack sanitation and other needs as it is. In 1798, British economist Thomas Malthus proposed the theory that population growth would surpass that ability to produce food, and this, he said, would lead to war, famine, and disease (Nat Geo). Pollution, exploitation of natural resources, and deforestation are just a few of the effects of overpopulation. Another negative aspect of overpopulation is the issue of waste management. More people means more waste, and more waste means that a serious innovation in waste management must occur. Otherwise the poor management of waste will lead to massive disease outbreaks. Besides this, more waste also means more pollution. Every year the United Nations observes a World Population Day. On this day there is great fanfare, the government officials issues statements regarding depopulation programs, and the media has a field day with the talk of depopulation methods. Many people are apprehensive in regards to the subject of overpopulation and some blame overpopulation as the real cause for poverty and underdevelopment. However, there are those that don’t view the subject as a threat and that the facts should be thoroughly reviewed before making such claims. Doug Allen, dean of the school of Architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology, believes that overpopulation isn’t a serious concern seeing as how architects and urban design experts don’t even consider the theory when they build their models. He also...