Overpopulation is an undesirable condition where the number of existing human population exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth. It is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today. The land masses in the world remain static while the world population increases daily leading to competition, scarcity and an undesirable condition termed “overpopulation.”
The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new United Nations report . This, if not checked, will lead to serious crisis in the entire world.
Causes of Over population
- Poverty: One of the leading cause of over population is poverty. It leads to lack of access to proper education and health care. Studies show that people who are dependent on subsistence farming are likely to have more children to provide much-needed labor and income.
- Reduced Mortality Rates/Technological Advancement: Mortality rates for many diseases has been reduced by technological advancement. Diseases and ailment such as polio, smallpox and measles among others have been practically eradicated. This has led to a delay in the cycle of life and death, thus causing birth rates to outstrip death rates by two to one in modern times.
- Immigration: Unchecked immigration into countries may lead to overpopulation to the point where those countries no longer have the required resources for their population.
Effects of Overpopulation
The effects of overpopulation are quite severe.
- Depletion of resources: The earth can only produce a limited amount of water and food, which is falling short of the current needs. Some estimates state that human demand for fresh water will stand at approximately 70% of what is available on the planet by 2025. This will place those living in areas that already have limited access to water at great risk.
- Rise in unemployment. Overpopulation leads to increase in unemployment as the resources available are not enough to meet everyone’s needs.
- Climate Change: Overpopulation has a direct bearing on climate change. The more the human population, the more the resources needed to keep humans alive and so, more force is exerted on nature which leads to a change in the climate.
- Lower Life Expectancy: While higher life expectancy is leading to increases in population in developed countries, lower life expectancy may be caused by the boom in population that less developed nations are experiencing. A large proportion of the world’s population growth occurs in less developed countries. This stretches the resources these countries have, resulting in less access to medical care, fresh water, food and jobs, all resulting in a fall in life expectancy.
- Extinction: The effect of overpopulation on the world’s wildlife is also a major issue. As demand for land grows, so also does the destruction of natural habitats such as forests, thereby causing species extinction.
Mitigation Measures for Overpopulation
- Education on the Subject: Better education on the subject of overpopulation should be provided to the populace. A lot of people, especially in developing countries, are not familiar with the consequences of overpopulation. This lack of awareness can lead to families not limiting the number of children they have. However, when people are thoroughly educated about overpopulation, they become more aware of how their actions affect the entire world and can consciously do their part to keep the world population at a sustainable level.
- Making Family Planning Services More Available: Many people know about the effects of overpopulation and want to limit the number of children they have but they do not know how to go about it. This is where family planning counselling and service availability comes in. Couples should be encouraged to use artificial contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies and birth control products should be made more available.
- Integrating Overpopulation Awareness in School Curriculum: Adults are not the only ones who should know about overpopulation and its negative effects. To make the next generation aware of this issue, it’s important for schools to integrate lessons about population in curriculum at all levels.
- Eradicating Policies that Reward Large Family Systems: Policies that reward families with large numbers of children in some countries should be discouraged. Such policies encourage people to have more children as there is always a reward system for them.
- Implementing New Government Policies: Besides removing policies that promote overpopulation, governments should introduce new rules that will help with population control.
Overpopulation if not tackled will lead to a problem that we would not be able to manage. Implementing the above listed mitigation measures can help make the world a better place.
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