By Britton Chancellor | 28 September 2015
If stopped on the street and asked “What do you think would be the most likely thing to cause human’s extinction?” Most of us would likely reply with something concerning asteroids crashing down to earth and causing mass extinctions. But, in truth, one of the symptoms of our race’s overpopulation causing the extinction of our race (and most other species upon this planet along with us) is a profusely higher probability.
The subject of overpopulation is a very controversial issue. The controversy is mainly left untouched due to the fact of religious and political standings and of course, peoples’ nonsensical fear of what the ‘fix’ for the issue that might be implied. But there is a universal law that applies to every single thing on this planet: Everything in moderation. Too much of anything can be self-destructive. It applies on every scale; on a personal level, economically, nationally, globally, and even in microscopic ecosystems. It is the universal law of moderation. Humans, animals, bacteria, and viruses alike are genetically designed to reproduce as much as possible, it is simple biology. It is the manner in which species carry on their race for millennia.
It is technology and modern medicine that has permitted us to go far beyond previous population ceilings, therefore, in combination of these circumstantial events, we are breaking the universe’s ostensible law of moderation. Ensuing self-destruction of the human race is imminent with our current course and figures. WE have to be the ones to intervene. No radical action is necessary, but public awareness is. The growing gravity of this situation requires the awareness of all of the populaces living upon the earth.
Earth is being run dry; non-reusable resources are being depleted at a previously unconceivable rate; and many reusable resources are being used at a faster rate than they naturally can replenish themselves. This is not a new problem, but an evolving one. Martin Luther King in 1966 recognized and addressed the issue, profoundly saying “Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.” Even back in 1966, when the world held a mere three billion people, overpopulation was a serious issue. The human population is now at more than double that number in less than 50 years later, and the growing strain upon the earth is palpable. The global crises such as pollution, water shortages, desertification, rising sea levels, global warming, animal species extinction, and economic failures and recessions are reactive issues precipitating from overpopulation itself. Overpopulation of any species has proven to kill any environment holding it. The entire earth is the human environment. The Earth itself is at risk of turning into Mars.
The people’s collective decisions and those of the next handful of generations will decide the fate of Earth. Without Earth the Human species goes extinct. “What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victim.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. The general populace isn’t notified that it is an issue. It isn’t shown as an issue in the media. Schools do not teach about it. It is the issue that stays in the closet of secrecy. Why? The only way to fix the issue in a moral manner is to make the public aware of the gravity of the situation, and how they can do their part. “Nobody’s working on a real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. But denial is killing us. The human race is in a suicidal run to self-destruction. We can’t blame it on the great American conspiracy of climate-science deniers, Big Oil, the Koch Bros, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Congress. It’s us.”(Farrell)
The human rate of reproduction is the problem. “Overpopulation” means more goods or resources are required than can be supplied to them. Humans have always had the power to reproduce, to create life. They now have to have the resolve to not over-use that power. “The U.N.’s 2,000 scientists know overpopulation is Earth’s only real problem… Your scientific method makes this clear, we are making too many babies. Population’s out of control. And that’s the world’s No. 1 problem. But we’re all in denial.”(Farrell) Though one has to ask… ‘who is in denial?’. The issue is never brought to light, so the average person never sees it for being an issue, they simply believe that all the world’s crises are independent of one another and are not related to a root cause.
The effects of human over-population can be seen everywhere, pollution, desertification, water shortages, contagion outbreaks, global warming, animal extinction, and the hole in our ozone layer over Antarctica. “U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change… they’re solving the wrong problems.”(Farrell) This goes for more than just climate change, of course. But the U.N. is focusing on band-aiding the symptoms instead of addressing what they all too well know is the issue. Pollutants from big oil doing their best to keep electric and hybrid cars off the roads so they can continue to make many billions per year, at the cost of earth’s atmosphere and future. And overpopulation, which increases the output of pollutants and over-draws on resources causing desertification.
“The world population is currently growing by 74 million people per year – the equivalent of a city the size of San Francisco every three days.” (Saracino)
What is the environmental effect of overpopulation? Every person on the planet takes up space. Not just the small, physical space we take as people, or that our homes and yard does. Space is needed for farmland, and forests. People excrete wastes and cause pollution that flow into water systems and animal habitats, contaminating water, and killing wildlife. Many individuals cannot wash themselves or brush their teeth due to the caustic condition of the water in their neighboring land. Climates are changing, we can see a pattern in this table from the UN Population division.
(Global average air temp)
Source: UN Population Division and World Meteorological Organization
** indicates when the latest results were taken. Below the ** indicates projections.
There is an obvious correlation here. The rising average temperatures are also causing the ice caps to melt at the poles, which in turn raises the sea level. The rising sea level causes flooding. A long chain of natural disaster cause and effect.
Forests are being exhausted as more wood and land is required to support our ever-growing population. The loss of these forests leads to extinction of plants and animals. These plants could contain cures for diseases that will never be found. Water usage is expected to increase by 50% in developing nations between 2015 and 2025, and 18% in developed nations. With freshwater supply already being strained, this demographic is causing a stir in many countries’ governments, whom are scrambling to figure out ways to supply their people’s rising water needs. Being that 97% of the earth’s water is salt water, unfit for consumption, and 67% of the remaining three percent is frozen, there isn’t very much remaining to go around. The wide-ranging loss of biodiversity, deforestation, extinction of species, and the pollution of the ocean and other water sources worldwide ought to be of chief concern to all of humanity, as the devastation and disregard of the environment will cause insurmountable difficulties for our perpetually multiplying human population in the not so far future. This, even currently, is putting colossal pressure on our natural resources and environment. Regrettably, as long as the disproportionate world population carries on growing as it is, proportionate economic growth will be needed to compensate for that population growth. In turn, that economy requires more consumption of resources. Oil will be the first to run dry and exhaustion of resources will cease growth, both population growth and economic growth. This will almost definitely lead to wars, embargos, and political and economical mayhem.
Size of population and the fluctuations thereof, have a definite effect on an economy. Overpopulation means more demand in general. The main issue in developing countries is they are unable to compensate increasing supply for mass growth and as a result people starve. First of all, when countries are overpopulated, the people hardly have enough sustenance to support themselves, never mind the hope of having an excess to trade to other countries for the purpose of economic growth. This can cause a low GDP per Capita which is an effect overpopulation has on the economy. This causes the gap between upper-class and poverty to widen greatly, causing the vast majority to be within poverty status and all but eliminating any type of “middle-class”. In an endeavour to save the people from the starvation, the government will most likely have to depend on foreign debt. This puts the country in debt at stretches the government’s already inadequate resources. Furthermore, when a nation is overpopulated, there is a high rate of unemployment because there aren’t enough occupations to support the population. This consequences in a high level of crime because the people will need to steal things in order to subsist. Which in turn puts more stress on the economy.
Overpopulation can also cause viruses to become major epidemics. Every person that a virus comes in contact with there is a fair chance the virus will mutate, change, and improve itself. This, in turn, can cause the virus to turn lethal, or become more lethal than it already is. Compound this over few million individuals and the virus could be an apocalyptic one. Ebola infected many countries recently. It also came to the US. This was most likely due to overpopulation. If there weren’t so many people in Africa it wouldn’t have spread to that degree, which also means that maybe the person that brought Ebola to the U.S, might have not contracted Ebola. Possibly because the overpopulation in Africa caused it to spread to the location the individual that came to the US was. In that case overpopulation does cause calamities to spread faster. With human populations being focused in urban centers, if there was a particularly deadly strand of virus or other contractible contagion, then it would spread as rapidly as a wild fire does in a forest with dense dead kindling littering the forest floor. People would contract it quickly on public transit, hospitals would become quickly overpopulated, and would cause the disease to spread there also; many people would begin dying. Overpopulation has always demonstrated to be abysmal for contagions when we look at times past. Such as the Black Plague, where people were all residing in a diminutive area of a city.
There is also a social and psychological repercussion to overpopulation. The detrimental psychological effects of overcrowding due to overpopulation are made apparent in a common biology labs. Two rats were put into a cage and allowed to reproduce freely. At first, they got along well. That soon was no longer the case. The quantity of rats swelled but they remained in the original enclosure. As their numbers grew, they began to display anti-social behavior. The conclusion of overcrowding is the equivalent with human beings. The lesser amount of space people have to live in, the more difficult it is for them to get along. As humans compete, not simply for space but also for food, water and air, the more antagonistic their conduct becomes. Crime, and a lack of reverence for other people, turns out to be more commonplace as personal space is decreased. Violence is most predominant in highly populated regions, as are additional forms of criminal behavior. This is, in all probability, due to hostility and anxiety brought on by a deficiency of personal space.
“Worldwide only 57.4% of women aged 15-49 who are married or in a union are using modern contraception”(WOA). And for a majority of that statistic, it is completely unavailable to them. The world’s population grows the most in the areas that are least able to be accommodated. “Growth is expected to be most rapid in the 49 least developed countries, which are projected to double in size from around 900 million inhabitants in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050”(WOA). The solution to human population is not as complicated as one might think. There is no need for radical action, no necessity for ‘population control’. “It is the job of the population activists of today to stick to the reproductive justice plan – every woman should have control over her own reproductive capacity. This plan has been proven to work. There is no need for ‘population control’”(WOA). A vast majority of conceptions are accidental, if all the women of the world were to be educated and given the affordable or free option of contraception a very noticeable result would ensue.
In conclusion, the earth is in danger of being overconsumed past the point of no return. The best solution to this growing issue is multi-faceted. Awareness for the billions who are plagued by it, whom, currently are unaware. Free contraceptives in areas of the globe having the worst issues with this matter. Education of the women of the world, making it more likely they would have fewer children and later in their lives. And of course, individuals who could represent the issue without fearing political or religious ramifications.
Spread the word.
Farrel, Paul B. ‘World’s top problem is overpopulation, not climate’
Saracino, Adria. ‘Overpopulation: The Facts and Solutions’
World Population Awareness (WOA) – Factoids and Frequently Asked Questions
World Population Balance – One Planet, One Child
Professor Paul Ehrlich: Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?
Stephen Emmott’s Ten Billion, Trailer | The Future of Our Planet
Al Bartlett – Democracy Cannot Survive Overpopulation
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