Human overpopulation: When no news is bad news
Last week, a high-profile study using the latest United Nations data revisited predictions of global population size. The news wasn’t good: Updated estimates using new statistical analyses suggest the world’s population will hit nearly 11 billion by 2100. There’s some uncertainty in this measure because birth and death rates may be changed by political and social dynamics. Still, the study’s authors wrote that there’s a four in five chance the world’s population will be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by the end of the century.
I was glad to see several media outlets pick up the story. But while most of the reports alluded to the challenges of feeding and employing additional billions of humans, almost none acknowledged the fundamental issue with human population size.
There are already too many people on the planet, and this overpopulation drives the ongoing environmental crisis.
It’s no wonder we shy away from open discussion of this issue. First, “overpopulation” is hard to quantify. It’s obvious that the present-day human population is too large to sustainably support on the planet. For example, modern agriculture relies on the chemical fixation of nitrogen for fertilizers, which experts believe allowed Earth’s population to grow beyond 4 billion. Yet this fertilizer production requires energy from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource. In other words, more than 3 billion people on the planet survive because of an unsustainable energy subsidy.
Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit