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Why Overpopulation Is a Serious Concern All over the World

Cody Peluso Aug 25, 2022

The Earth’s population is set to hit the 8 billion mark in late 2022. The rate of population growth reached new heights in the 20th century, and the world population doubled faster than ever before. It is estimated that the world population reached one billion in 1804. It was another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960. Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974 (14 years), five billion in 1987 (13 years), six billion in 1999 (12 years) and seven billion in 2011 (12 years).The consequences are currently being felt and, if the population growth is not checked, will continue to be felt for decades to come.

Every human deserves clean water, clear air, and space to live—a fair amount of Earth’s resources. These are basic human rights. There are no “right” or “wrong” people to inhabit our planet, but we must all work together to change our current population trajectory, which has us on track to hit nearly 11 billion people by 2100, a capacity our world simply cannot handle while providing adequately for all inhabitants.

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Each day, there are approximately 382,000 births, compared to 168,000 deaths. This accounts for a global net growth of over 200,000 people per day.

There is good news. According to the World Population Prospect the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950. The global growth has fallen by 50% — a good thing, to be sure. But, this lower growth rate of 1.1% is acting on an enormous total population of nearly 8 billion. Counter intuitively, this is resulting in even larger annual population growth than in 1967 — over 80 million additional people per year. This enormous total growth works out to eye-popping numbers: 1.5 million more people added to the planet every week. Over 220,00 people per day. That is 9,000 more people every hour, or 150 more people per minute. Almost 3 more people every second.

“Fertility, the report declares, has fallen markedly in recent decades for many countries: today, two-thirds of the global population lives in a country or area where lifetime fertility is below 2.1 births per woman, roughly the level required for zero growth in the long run, for a population with low mortality.”

The rights of women and girls are always front and center at Population Media Center. When women and girls are empowered, our earth is empowered. When women and girls have access to education, we all make more educated choices. When women and girls are given the rights they so adamantly deserve, we can correct some of the wrongs we have inflicted on this earth. See why the education and empowerment of women and girls is so important in this video.

Two Crises, One Solution

At PMC, we know that if human rights for women and girls could be fully realized, we would not only solve humanitarian crises related to the lives and opportunities of women and girls, we would also take huge steps toward solving our environmental challenges. We must realize that empowering women and girls is imperative if we are to achieve sustainability.

Why Overpopulation Is Damaging the Planet

A major impact of overpopulation is ecological damage. As the world’s population has grown exponentially, the Earth has suffered. The expanded population has adversely affected numerous ecosystems around the globe. Urban and suburban sprawl has encroached more and more on natural habitats, leading to the endangering and even extinction of numerous animal species.

What’s more, rainforests have decreased in size. Where they once covered 14 percent of the Earth’s surface, they now only cover 6 percent. Projections indicate that the remaining rainforests may cease to exist in less than half a century. The increase in agriculture has been a prime culprit in habitat destruction. More people require more food, and the expansion of farming has come at the cost of major deforestation.

Water supplies are depleting faster than they can be regenerated. While the vast majority of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, most of that is saltwater. Freshwater from lakes and streams makes up only about 2.5 percent of the world’s water. In some areas, such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), these water reserves are drying up. Desertification, the turning of arable land into barren desert, threatens the water supply throughout the word. This scarcity of water affects not only humans but also many animal species that are losing access to life-giving freshwater.

According to UNICEF “Even in countries with adequate water resources, water scarcity is not uncommon. Although this may be due to a number of factors — collapsed infrastructure and distribution systems, contamination, conflict, or poor management of water resources — it is clear that climate change, as well as human factors, are increasingly denying children their right to safe water and sanitation.”

Because of the relative wealth of many nations, especially those in the West and South East Asia, demand has steadily grown for leisure items. Vital natural resources are being used up to meet the need for non-essential goods. In turn, many of these products produce damaging emissions that affect the atmosphere or do not biodegrade and cause dangerous waste that destroys the environment.

Social Implications of Overpopulation

The scarcity caused by overpopulation has the potential to cause serious problems that may lead to violence. Already, protests have erupted in the Middle East over the lack of water available. Just this week, protestors in Iran showed up to show they need access to clean drinking water, now. Protests like these have the potential to turn violent and have serious consequences for governments struggling to deal with overwhelming poverty and depleted natural resources. Scarce resources cause prices to rise, which disproportionally affects less-developed nations.

Food is another resource that is affected by an overpopulated world. Due to increasing demands brought on by population growth, any serious disruption in the global food chain can have catastrophic repercussions. The war in Ukraine caused severe hardship for many nations, especially those in the Middle East, when food exports were halted. Some nations are almost wholly dependent upon other nations for their food needs; any major domestic issue, like conflict or famine, can put millions of people in danger of starvation.

The rising young population in many nations leads to massive youth unemployment, as there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. Widespread youth unemployment leads to desperation, a driver of crime and violence, which leads to government crackdowns and loss of basic freedoms. Social unrest is a serious problem that is exacerbated by overpopulation.

When vital resources become scarce, people must compete for life’s necessities. Too often, this has led to stereotyping and blaming certain groups of people and widespread prejudice. The social fabric of societies fray when there are too many people fighting for fewer and fewer resources. Then, it becomes easier for beleaguered governments to pit citizen against citizen to keep them from uniting.

We must empower people, and ensure human rights, around the world or the entire world will suffer. As we approach 8 billion people, we must view this as an opportunity to work together to create the world we want. The world we need.

Later this year, we will have 8 billion opportunities to work together. 8 billion opportunities to empower people. 8 billion opportunities to change behavior toward togetherness, to improve communities, and change the way we have been interacting with our planet.

At Population Media Center, we have been talking about sustainable populations since our beginning.