“When we can treat all existing persons as human, it will be time enough to think about having more. ” – Athelstan Spilhaus
The first human civilization considers on Earth is 500 million years ago. Currently, the Earth is holding 7.5 billion humans. Never before in history, there are so many people on earth as of right now. The human population is increasing exponentially and skyrocketed after the 19th century. But is this increase in population is a serious issue? Or is it just fear-mongering about overpopulation?
What Is Overpopulation?
Overpopulation is referred to a population that exceeds the carrying capacity of habitat or an environment. Carrying capacity is the capacity of habitat or environment sustainably. The term overpopulation comes to light after the publication of the book ‘The Principle of population’ written by Thomas Malthus in 1798. The increase in population happened after the industrial revolution. Earth has already exceeded its carrying capacity of 4 billion people and there are 3.5 billion people extra on this planet. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that there will be more than 11 billion people on this planet by the end of this century. But we have certain assumptions and fear against the overpopulation.
Let’s see problems related to overpopulation from a different perspective.
This is the most common thought that comes to our mind about overpopulation. The thought is simple that earth has limited resources and if the population increases then there will be a shortage of resources and people will die because of hunger, Poverty, etc. But it’s not as simple as it seems. As the earth has the carrying capacity of 4 billion people but still it is holding 7.5 billion people. Ever wondered why? Ever thought about this? All this is possible because of technology.
We can use technology to increase the efficiency of the limited resources we have. Take the example of the agricultural revolution. After the agricultural revolution, we are now able to grow 10 times more crops than before the era of the agricultural revolution. This all is possible due to technology. So, we can say with the help of technology we can increase the efficiency of our limited resources.
Often overpopulation is connected with poverty. We assume that if a country is overly populated then that country is poor. This may be true and false at the same time. Poverty indeed gives rise to overpopulation but this doesn’t mean that poverty will sustain forever. According to research, In low-income countries, rapid population growth is likely to harm the economy of a country in the short or medium term. But in the longer term, the economy will grow if the majority of the population of that country is productive young adults.
This is happening in India, the majority of the population of India is young adults. If India invests more in human resources, then the economic condition of India will get more stable.
3- Pollution & Climate Change
It is often said that the larger the population, the greater the carbon footprint. But it is not true. If we compare the overall carbon footprint of a 4 members family in the US and a 4 members family in India. The family in the US has a carbon footprint of 70 tons whereas the carbon footprint less than 8 tons in India. These are shocking stats.
It’s not simple to blame a country’s population for carbon emissions. If we take a deep look at stats. The carbon footprint per capita of an Indian is 1.6 tons is which is much lower than the average carbon footprint of the world(4 tons).
The arguments against the overpopulation we just go through made us realize that overpopulation is not that kind of problem; we were thinking about. But then what’s the real problem? Why people have to suffer in overpopulated countries? The answer to this question is overconsumption.
The Real Problem – Overconsumption
Overconsumption is the act of consuming something in excess and yes, overconsumption is a problem that humans have to consider as a real threat because overconsumption applies to every aspect of our life. Isn’t strange that one country is currently enjoying 5G speeds and one country is struggling for its daily needs.
Why Is Overconsmuption a Problem?
The earth can produce food for more than 10 billion people. But the problem is around 1 billion people in the world are still unable to get proper food. Why is this happening? It’s all because of the overconsumption of food by other people. Around one-third of the world’s food is lost to waste or 1.3 billion tons per year. This is shocking that we are wasting that much amount of food and still feeling bad for those who don’t have sufficient to feed them.
The next example of overconsumption is the gap between the rich and the poor. 1% of the Population has almost the same amount of money as the rest of the 99% combined. This inequality between rich and poor is increasing daily. The rich countries are destroying the resources of poor countries and in return giving nothing. Ghana exports 46% Gold but still, 56% of people in Ghana are living in poverty.
The idea of overconsumption is also strongly tied to the idea of an ecological footprint. An average American uses 53 times more resources than an average Chinese. China’s population is 4 times more than in America. According to Biologist Paul R. Ehrlich, If everyone consumed resources at the US level, you will need another four or five Earth.
What Should We Do?
Firstly we have to change our mindset that overpopulation is responsible for many problems in this world. Yes, overpopulation is a problem but with a different perspective.
Secondly, we have to think about resource management on an individual level. If we want to satisfy the hunger of that 1 billion people, we have to reduce the consumption of animal products by 90%.
It is because animal agriculture is very resource extensive. Humans are wasting lots of water, agriculture, and capital on animal agriculture. This will solve two major global issues; Hunger and Climate change.
The population is indeed increasing at a rapid pace, but it will surely slow down after a limit. Even the United Nations have predicted that the population on earth will never exceed 12 billion people. Some Countries will also touch their peak in the mid 21st century such as India. It is estimated that India will reach its population peak by 2050. So, the growth of the population is not an apocalyptic prophecy.
But we have to remember our common enemy that is overconsumption. Try reducing everything you can; it will make a better world.
Now, I think you have realized how wrong we are about overpopulation. If you like this new vision about overpopulation or have some arguments against it. Please, comment your views.