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Outgrowing Our Earth

Since the beginning of time humans have roamed the earth without any consideration for how their actions would affect the future of the planet. Each generation treats the earth as if it is not their job to restore the stress we have implemented on our planet. However, time is running out, and now it is obvious we have run our course on the earth by overpopulating it. We simply have too many people for the world to belong to. The effects of overpopulation are drastic and fatal. In my term paper I will be discussing the cause, effects, and possible solutions to the issue of overpopulation.

Description

To continue, our current world population is 7.6 billion and it is rapidly growing at this very second. As stated above, the human race has been dealing with population overgrowth for over a century. However, it has now become a worldwide social problem with ramifications that affect everyone from coast to coast. Scientist have concluded that the earth’s capacity for the human race is between nine and ten billion. However, these statistics are based on some very strict restrictions. We would have to make some changes to the way we live on an everyday basis, and humans are not always open to change. Since we are already at 7.6 billion it is easy to see that we are not far from hitting our max capacity. Resource scarcity is becoming a huge issue and they are beginning to inhibit economic growth. An astonishing “220,000 people are added to the planet every day, further compounding most resource and environmental problems. The United States adds another person every eleven seconds. We can no longer wait for increasing wealth to bring down fertility in remaining high fertility nations; we need policies and incentives to stop growth now” (Population Growth Is Still The Biggest, 2010).As stated above, the issue can no longer be tamed by mediocre attempts to control fertility and growing industrialization vertically. What experts are telling us is that it is time to prepare for the long haul of issues that we have created with overpopulation. It is time to prepare for the impact that is sure to hit us sooner than most people think.

Explanation

Furthermore, the issue of overpopulation is daunting for the residents of the planet to deal with. However, before we can look at solutions we have to dive into the causes of population growth along with their effects. Thomas Robert Malthus proposed one of the first systematic theories of population in 1798. The Malthusian Theory suggests that population growth is fueled by an increase in our food supply. With an increase in our food supply we are able to support more bodies and fertility increases. At that point population increases. With the bump in able bodied citizens in our workforce, economic productivity sky rockets. When people have more money they are more likely to have more children and to be able to afford them. The vicious cycles continues to snowball. Population will exceed carrying capacity unless it it checked by famine, disease or war. This theory does a great job at explaining the very basic levels of population growth however, the cause and effects go much deeper than this simple systematic theory. I am going to continue my explanation over world over population by going into meticulous detail to truly show the savage beast this issue has become.

To continue, the next theory that I find to be an accurate precedent to population growth is the Demographic Transition Theory. This theory states that growth is technology driven. As well as the notion that technology is considered knowledge of how to manipulate the environment around you to your benefit (Dietrich, 2017). We can easily apply this theory to our current situation. As I stated above, the issue of overpopulation has become a more apparent issue in the last century. Also, in the last century our planet has completely transformed through technology. The more technology we produce the longer we will be able to live and produce healthier offspring who can also reproduce. To break it down in greater detail I will explain each level of growth and their relation to population over growth.

The first stage is considered the “Pre Industrial stage”. In this stage the technology is low and not very efficient. The population is made up of hunters and gatherers who produce food with simple agriculture. There are a high number of births considering that there is no form of contraception. On the flip side there is also a high number of deaths because of the lack of medical technology and vaccines. The high births and high deaths balance eachother out to create a very slow population growth. Next, we have what is considered the second stage of the model. This stage consists of improved agricultural technology. Tools such as plows, domesticated animals, irrigation and dams made strides for the agricultural world. With these tools more food is allowed to be produced so the birth rate rises. Also, more females live to be able to reproduce as well as lengthening the age for reproduction. There is also an incentive to have more children to help with food production and other work. Because of these factors, deaths lower and life expectancy rises. These two factors combined creates the perfect recipe for rapid population growth. Next, in the third stage we are introduced to modern technology. Cities and countries begin to become completely industrialized. Agriculture is machine driven and food is produced for the masses. The creation of genetically modified organisms increases the amount of food rapidly and the amount of time food can be saved and sent overseas. As well as the creation and use of modern contraception, that allows for births to be controlled and used for family planning. This leads into the change in female roles. Women begin working in the labor force and getting their education. With their education and jobs they are less likely to want or need to have more than one child if any at all. The low births and low deaths creates a stable population. The fourth and last stage is a stage that very few countries reach. In this stage there are lower births than deaths which makes it below replacement level fertility. The population declines without any immigration. I want to add that “there are things the DTM cannot reveal: the impact of other demographic variables such as migration, are not considered, nor does the model predict how long a country will be in each stage” (Grover, 2018). However, the connection between birth rate, life expectancy, death rate and technology is undeniable through this model.

Our current projections for growth are quite contradicting. World population growth is decreasing however, world population is still increasing. This population momentum is caused by high fertility rates in the past that have now produced a large amount of girls who are entering their child bearing years. World fertility rate is also declining however, the total number of women in their childbearing years is increasing, which creates a population increase. Unsurprisingly, 99% of population growth is in less developed countries. There a several reasons for this high birth epidemic. A lot of developing nations have a overwhelming amount of people who are unfortunately, illiterate, live below the poverty line and have little or no knowledge about family planning and contraception. Making sure their children married at an young age increases the chances of producing more kids. Citizens in these developing countries lack the education to the help them understand the harmful effects of overpopulation also prompts them to avoid family planning measures (Overpopulation: Causes, Effects and Solutions, 2017). To continue, the lack of contraception in these countries is an issue that is hard to fix. Contraception is simply not available and the concept of contraception is foreign to a lot of men and women. They are simply uneducated on the concept of protection and therefore do not use it. Another reason is the important value of extended family in less developed countries. The idea of extended family means a few things to the residents of these countries. The first is continuity, or the concept of continuing the family blood line. It is important to these families that they leave a legacy for generation and that their family name continues. Children are looked at sas cement ties to the husband and extended families. To do this they need boys who will reproduce more boys to carry on the family. What comes along with a long generation of family continuity is power in the community. Power in the community is a very important aspect of their lives. They are able to get better jobs, make more money, and marry their daughters to richer men. With all of those things comes better opportunities to make a better life for themselves. Moreover, gender roles also contributes to the high birth rate. Having a lot of children is considered a sign of masculinity. The more kids you have means the more able bodied you are, that you have good genes and that you intend to pass them forward. This also defines the adult female role as a mother. Women are looked at as child bearers and murderers that were put on this planet to have children and raise them. Without this role women would not have much of a place in these less developed countries.

Additionally, these concepts lead us into another theory of explanation for population growth. This theory is called the Wealth Flows Theory. This theory suggests that children are considered economic assets in less developed countries. Families tend to have a lot of children because they are sources of work, take care of aging family, and too often they die at a young age due to lack of medical opportunity. The children are forced to work for little to no money in horrible conditions in sweatshops to bring extra money back to their families. This is also connects to why most of them die at an early age. The conditions they work in breed morbidity and without the proper medical care, small infections become fatal (Dietrich lecture, 2017). Parents decide it is in their best interest to continue to have children to make up for the ones who do not live a long life. The sad reality is that theses children really are looked at like dollar signs and their self worth is dependent how useful they are to the family to make money. The theory “analysis is fundamental to an understanding of the nature of family relationships at all times and in all places. Its greatest value is to be found in the analysis of the economics of familial production” (JC, 1982).

Furthermore, the fact that children are economic assets to families in less developed countries is an undeniable fact. This leads me into another issue that resides in less developed countries called child hoarding. Families decide to have more births than their desired number of children in response to expectation of child mortality. In relation, in less developed countries more than â…“ of children die before the age of five. The massive impact that less developed countries have on our population is riveting. Some of the other implications involve the fact that nearly two billion young people will be entering their child bearing age. This creates a larger ratio of young population to working population. The issue with a high proportion of young is more negative than you might think. With a high proportion of young people thats mean there is an insufficient amount of tax revenue. When there is a lack of taxes that leads to a lack of funds to pay for children social services such as schools and health care. This relates back to why most children skip school and go right into the workforce. There is not a quality education available and also a lack of motivation to attend the schools that are available. The parents would much rather have their children be apart of the labor force to bring in revenue back to the family. Situations like this inhibit industrialization and other forms of development in these countries, continuing the cycle of poverty and overpopulation.

Although less developed countries have their fair share of causes in world over population, they are not the only ones to blame. This is a team effort. Immigration also plays a role in this epidemic. There are millions of people who“prefer to move to developed countries like US, UK, Canada and Australia where best facilities are available in terms of medical, education, security and employment. The end result is that those people settle over there and those places become overcrowded. Difference between the number of people who are leaving the country and the number of people who enter narrows down which leads to more demand for food, clothes, energy and homes. This gives rise to shortage of resources. Though the overall population remains the same, it just affects the density of population making that place simply overcrowded (Overpopulation: Causes, Effects and Solutions. 2017).Additionally, they move to more industrialized places such as the US and receive better medical care, schooling, education, and standards of overall living which increases their life span as well. Just like discussed in the Demographic transition Theory, technology is a large cause for overpopulation. While it has improved our lives and saved many people lives, it is in some respects is killing our planet. Our technology in more developed countries has led to improved food production all over the world. To give an example, in the last 50 the amount of grain we have been able to harvest worldwide has increased from 631 million tons to 1.65 billion tons. Incredibly this is equal to a gain of “2.6 times at a time when the world population increased by only 1.9 times 9” (Kinder). It is obvious from statistics like these that our overproduction of food has been a catalyst for our overproduction for people. When we have access to more food we allow families to feed more and then subsequently, have more children. It does not seem like a harmful process to make sure that everyone’s bellies are full however, it has come to exactly that. Along with having more food, we have better medical advancement from the industrial revolution. The invention of “medical science made many discoveries thanks to which they were able to defeat a whole range of diseases and illnesses” (Overpopulation: Causes, Effects and Solutions. 2017). These issues would have taken thousands of peoples lives however, the invention of vaccines has been the magic wand to many of these problems. To conclude, lack of education, developing countries family structure, and overall technology have been the main causes of overpopulation in the last century. The real issue with these concepts are the effects that remain in their wake.

The stress that we put on our planet is unbelievable. And the tension that overpopulation exerts on our earth has already started to show. One of the biggest effects of overpopulation is the exhaustion of our natural resources. Our most needed and used natural resources are not renewable. Examples of these include “fossil fuels, fresh water, arable land, coral reefs and frontier forests”. The lack of these place “competitive stress on the basic life sustaining resources and lead to a diminished quality of life” (Effects of Human Overpopulation). There was a study done by the UNEP Global Environment Outlook, which found that ‘Human consumption had far outstripped available resources. Each person on Earth now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the planet can supply.’ Studies like these show us that we are outgrowing our planet way too fast and she will eventually not be able to keep up with human pace. Without access to these resources it is possible that our strides in technology will be for nothing. Eventually the earth will be unable to handle the people and we will be unable to live comfortably without the resources we have been used to for centuries.

To add, the depletion of our resources leads into a vast majority of other problems we will have to deal with. Some of these being increased habitat loss, desertification, and deforestation. Overpopulation is a huge upset to our ecosystems such as “rainforests, coral reefs and Arctic ice” and others. Overpopulation can explain whyrainforests once covered 14% of the Earth’s land surface, now they cover a bare 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years and certainly by the end of the century at the current rate of deforestation.Our rainforests our important because they stabilize the earth’s climate. It is not shocking that we have been dealing with the effects of global warming when we have had half of our rainforests ruined. Global warming also leads into the issue of our coral reefs being destroyed. Warming temperatures cause oceans to acidify, therefore demolishing our coral reefs and all of the wildlife that reside there. Scientists predict that all of the coral reefs on the planet could be gone by the year 2050. To add, warming temperatures also melts arctic ice. Scientist have found that “the area of permanent ice cover is now declining at a rate of 11.5% per decade. If this trend continues, summers in the Arctic could become ice-free in as few as 4 years or in the next 30 years. While I will not dive into the numerous problems that come with our arctic ice melting in this essay, the effect is predominant and will affect our everyday lives, and already has. If we do not shrink our population we will destroy the ecological peace that is already shaking. We have to reverse the current damage and begin to think of new ways to live on this planet without destroying her.

Additionally, when we destroy our ecological systems, we destroy the species that live there as well. Humans are causing the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaur extinction millions of years ago. Sadly “within a few decades, at least half of all plant and animal species on Earth will be extinct, as a result of climate change, habitat loss, pollution, acidifying oceans, invasive species, over-exploitation of natural resources, overfishing, poaching and human overpopulation”. The sad truth is that in order to produce more humans, we have to destroy everything in our path, including all of our planets animals. Yet another effect of overpopulation on our species and planet is deforestation. Deforestation is arguable one of the most devastating effects because of all the consequences that come along with it. This issue with deforestation is that it can also be seen as removal of forests leading to several imbalances ecologically and environmentally. What makes deforestation alarming is the immediate and long term effects it is bound to inflict if continued at the current pace (Deforestation – Causes, Effects and Solutions, 2016). There is a slew of issues that come along with deforestation itself, that reconnect to many other issues of overpopulation and they continue to add up onto one another. Deforestation leads back to affecting climate change. With the lack of trees they do not release enough water vapor into the air. The trees also cannot provide shade to the soil and so the soil dries out and is unable to produce more trees. The soil erodes making it impossible for any forestation to grow. This imbalance affects the atmosphere and leads to climate change and an increase in global warming. Trees also create an equilibrium within our greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Without trees we cannot control our greenhouse gases, which again leads us further into global warming. Another consequence of deforestation is flooding. Trees absorb rain water in their roots and help stop and reduce flooding. Without trees to absorb the water, more flooding and droughts occur. Lastly, deforestation contributes to wildlife extinctions. When we cut down our forest to make room for industrialization, we cut down the homes to several species. With a place to call home and to hunt, the species die off and some even become extinct.

On another note, overpopulation has huge affects on our land, ecosystems, atmosphere and animals. However one affect most people do not realize is the effect on our own heath. With denser populations, infections grow and transfer more easily. The issue of “urban crowding and environmental change have resulted in the emergence of many infectious diseases” (World Population Day, 2017). In less developed areas there has been an increase in antimicrobial resistance making diseases such as malaria, cholera and tuberculosis even more of an issue than in previous decades. Overpopulation also contributes to pollution, specifically in our water supply. More people are dying each year because of water related diseases. Viruses are spreading and mutating faster making it harder to contain and stop infections from growing. Other ways pollution is affecting our health is from the air. More people mean more transportation is needed, which in return pollutes our air very fast. Deforestation also contributes to less quality air. Sadly, toxic air is harsher on children than adults. Pollution increation has also led ozone depletionthe ozone layer of the atmosphere no longer protects us from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun causing skin problems such as skin cancers and premature ageing of the skin. UV rays also result in a host of eye-related problems such as cataract and blindness. Most of all, it weakens the human immune system (Lin, 2017). It is obvious that overpopulation would affect the health of our planet but, most people do not realize all the ties it has to hazardous health issues. Because “food, water, and other resources are strained by the escalating demands of a growing world population, the number of environmental refugees in the world will rise…and so will the potential for conflict and civil war in our society”.

Solutions

As I have shown, overpopulation is the root of all evil. It has some connection to every major issue we are dealing with on our earth right now. That is why it is that much more important to stop our overgrowth. Fortunately, there are ways to stop this monster. The solutions are preventative and restorative. A preventative strategy that has already been used by some countries is population control by the government. The government can do several things to help stabilize population. They can increase access to contraception and the opportunity to be educated on contraception. Governments can also legalize abortion so that people who did not want to become pregnant can terminate the pregnancy before a certain time. This would be helpful considering most pregnancies are not usually planned. Lastly, countries can introduce incentives for not having children. China is most well known for this. In in the 1970s china introduced a “one child program”. They gave incentives to couples who had one or no children such a tax breaks, better schooling and jobs however, the program was ended in 2013 (Pletcher, 2018). The problems with government controlled population are important as well. Many people do not like the coercion and loss of free choice to have their own families. Some people find it against their moral values to have abortions and therefore do not even want it as an option for anyone. Population control by the government can also lead to female infanticide. Female infanticide is defined as “the intentional killing of a girl child due to the strong partiality for boys over girls by parents and communities” ( “Female Infanticide.” EIGE, 2013). When there are incentives to have less children, there is a stigma to prefer boys over girls. Boys are seen as the breadwinners and families would rather have a male that can bring money into the family instead of girl who will marry off into another family. This also became in issue in china, their sex ratio has been thrown off due to their one child policy. They have way more men than women so many men are not able to get married and have children (Pletcher, 2018). The solution of government controlled population seems to create more issues than positive outcomes.

Thankfully there are some better preventive strategies. A better preventive strategy would be the education of females. The education of females would naturally reduce birth rates because there would be better knowledge of contraception and less fear of how to use it. The educated use of contraception would also reduce sexually transmitted diseases in these countries. Astonishingly, “the rates of HIV infection among African women ages 15-19 are five to six times higher than infection rates for their male counterparts (Butz, 2005). The more females are educated the more likely they are to make their own and better decisions. It has been shown that “higher levels of women’s education are strongly associated with lower infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as better outcomes for children” in general (Solutions.” Population Speak Out). Educated females are more likely to retain jobs outside of being a mother to a family. When women hold jobs they are also less likely to want to become pregnant because of the focus on their careers. Women also would be considered more equal in marital relationships and have more of a voice in contraception, family planning and income. Having power over your own fertility is key to women empowerment and equality. Female education is a must for our society and has an infinite number of positives without any negative consequences. I believe this is the most crucial preventative solution for our planet.

Lastly, another preventative strategy is allowing access to better jobs. As mentioned above, a lot of overpopulation comes from less developed countries who have strong extended family ties. When males and females are given the opportunity to have better jobs, it reduces their dependence on extended family. There will be less pressure to have more children for continuity and child hoarding would decrease due to the fact that they are not needed for a more stable income. This strategy is also beneficial to the economy as well. With higher incomes there is less need for government interference and less poverty.

To continue, restorative strategies need to be implemented in order to reduce the effects that have already taken their course. A simple solution would be to raise awareness of overpopulation. Personally, I did not know how badly the issue harmed our planet until I educated myself on the subject through this paper! Now I would consider myself an expert on overpopulation. By educating the general public on the kinds of issues the world is facing, we could encourage people to think about family planning and promote the idea of reducing their environmental footprint (Lin, 2017). Other simple restorative solutions are mainly directed towards the effects rather than overpopulation as a whole. Introducing green tools such as electric cars and solar powered homes and factories. Requiring stricter laws against deforestation and pollution. The solutions dealing with overpopulation are mostly preventative. That is why it is crucial that we begin to take steps to prevent overpopulation now!

To conclude, it is ironic to think the very species the world was made for is the same species that is single handedly destroying it. The magnitude of the problem is somewhat foreign to a lot of people, and that is why the issue is so complex. The causes of overpopulation come from generations of no family planning, lack of education and technology. The effects are broad and deeply bounded into almost every ecological system on planet earth. Simply, if we would stop the issue of overpopulation we would fix an abundance of issues that most people would not considered tied to overpopulation. Sadly, the solutions are not as bountiful as the effects. Overall, we have to educate women, provide more and higher paying jobs, and if all else fails, have the government step in. There is so band aid solution to overpopulation. We cannot build up, industrialize more, or go live on another planet. We were only given one planet and we must treat her like the temple that she is.

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Popular Questions About Overpopulation

Is overpopulation really a bad thing?
Overpopulation is generally considered to be a bad thing to have happen. It is also going to happen, whether we like it or not. By evaluating the pros and cons of this subject today, we can better prepare for the future and put plans in place that will help us all survive.
How will we solve overpopulation?
The best way to solve overpopulation is through birth control. Birth control may involve implementing policies that limit couples to only one or two children and encouraging family planning.
What are the problems caused by overpopulation?
Overpopulation is caused by reduced death rates, better medical assistance, unplanned family and lack of proper education. Over population can led to major social problems such as depletion of natural resources and high unemployment rate.
How dangerous is overpopulation?
Overpopulation Could Lead to Higher Levels of Pollution . Pollution's Definition: Pollution is the addition of particulate matters (substances) to the air, water and soil, which yield harm to man's health and cause harmful effects to other life forms. Because of overpopulation, more waste is generated each day.