Overpopulation, a threat to the worldKimia Habibi SNC4MMs. McCarl1/22/2018Case studyOverpopulation is the state whereby the human population rises to an extent exceeding the carrying capacity of the ecological setting. In an overpopulated environment, the numbers of people might be more than the available essential materials for survival such as transport, water, shelter, food or social amenities. It is caused by factors such as Reduced mortality rate, better medical facilities, depletion of resources. Overpopulation regularly contributes to environmental deterioration, worsening in the quality of life, or even the disintegration of the population. Overpopulation has been an “elephant in the room” topic for everyone to debate on and express their opinions. Many believe that it is simply a myth, that it is not the growth of population that causes damage but the increase of consumption; just as  David Satterthwaite, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London says “It is not the number of people on the planet that is the issue – but the number of consumers and the scale and nature of their consumption,” and he even goes further on to quote Gandhi “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” On the other hand people seem to argue that, overpopulation is indeed endangering the world’s existence. As the vast population of humans grow, their needs and requirements increase as well; resulting in natural finite sources of earth running low.  However this topic runs deeper than just mindless debates and endless arguments as flinging worlds at one another will not fix the dire situation at hand. Truth of the matter is that the planet is not expanding. There is only so much space on Earth, not to mention only so many resources – food, water and energy – that can support a human population. The number of “modern human beings” (Homo sapiens) on Earth has been comparatively small until very recently. Just 10,000 years ago there might have been no more than a few million people on the planet. The one billion mark was not passed until the early 1800s; the two billion mark not until the 1920s. As it stands now, though, the world’s population is over 7.3 billion. According to United Nations predictions it could reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and over 11 billion by 2100. With this alarming rate of population growth, it leaves no room for surprise when the natural sources on earth, slowly but surely dry out. Human overpopulation is among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, intensive farming practices and the consumption of finite natural resources, hence overpopulation poses a great danger to the world and its living beings. Overpopulation has numerous destructive side effects such as loss of freshwater. According to UN water, 75% of planet Earth is covered in water. 97.5% of that is ocean and 2.5% is freshwater. 70% of freshwater is divided into glaciers and ice caps and the remaining 30% into land surface water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds and groundwater. Most of the freshwater resources are either unreachable or too polluted, leaving less than 1% of the world’s freshwater, or about 0.003% of all water on Earth, readily accessible for direct human use. According to the Global Outlook for Water Resources to the Year 2025, it is estimated that by 2025, more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability and human’s requirement for water will be about 70% of all available freshwater. Furthermore, a report in November 2009 by the 2030 Water Resources Group suggests that by 2030, in some developing regions in the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50% and a report jointly produced by more than two dozen U.N. bodies states that, “By 2030, nearly half of the world’s people will be living in areas of acute water shortage.” According to the World Resources Institute, “Freshwater ecosystems – the diverse communities found in lakes, rivers, and wetlands – may be the most endangered of all. Some 34 percent of fish species, mostly from fresh water, are threatened with extinction, according to the latest tally of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which tracks threats to the world’s biodiversity. Freshwater ecosystems have lost a greater proportion of their species and habitat than ecosystems on land or in the oceans; in addition, they are probably in greater danger of further losses from dams, pollution, overfishing, and other threats. In extent, freshwater ecosystems are quite limited, covering only about 1 percent of the Earth’s surface. Yet, they are highly diverse and contain a disproportionately large number of the world’s species.” It is clear that the increases level of population requires more water for their usage and with water being the most fundamental finite source, its shortage leads to a global disaster. Another side effect to overpopulation is global warming and environmental damages. The more the number of people, the more the number of vehicles and industries as well as air travels. Furthermore, more population translates to increased use of energy sources such as coal and firewood which contributes to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of climate change and global warming are extreme resulting in extreme hunger, drought, flooding, and habitat loss to an extent of threatening the survival of human civilization. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “The largest single threat to the ecology and biodiversity of the planet in the decades to come will be global climate disruption due to the buildup of human-generated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. People around the world are beginning to address the problem by reducing their carbon footprint through less consumption and better technology. But unsustainable human population growth can overwhelm those efforts, leading us to conclude that we not only need smaller footprints, but fewer feet.” Hence, because of the accumulation of human-generated greenhouse gases and carbon footprint in the atmosphere, the planet has continued to witness amplified global warming and climate change. As the human population continues to explode, finite natural resources, such as fossil fuels, fresh water, arable land, coral reefs and frontier forests, continue to plummet, which is placing competitive stress on the basic life sustaining resources and leading to a diminished quality of life. A study by the UNEP Global Environment Outlook shows 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.” Furthermore, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, concluded that, “The structure of the world’s ecosystems changed more rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century than at any time in recorded human history, and virtually all of Earth’s ecosystems have now been significantly transformed through human actions.”    One of the most dreadful side effects of overpopulation is the loss of biodiversity.  As humans continue to exploit the natural sources on earth, they have also created the indirect destruction of natural systems necessary for the survival of different species. The 2012 update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that of the 63,837 species examined worldwide, 19,817 are threatened with extinction – nearly a third of the total. If present trends continue, scientists warn that 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. Human overpopulation has been dominating planetary physical, chemical, and biological conditions and limits, with an annual absorption of 42% of the Earth’s terrestrial net primary productivity, 30% of its marine net primary productivity, 50% of its fresh water, 40% of its land devoted to human food production, up from 7% in 1700, 50% of its land mass being transformed for human use and atmospheric nitrogen being fixated by humans than all other natural processes combined. Compared to the natural background rate of one extinction per million species per year, we are now losing 30,000 species per year, or three species per hour, which is faster than new species can evolve. The chart below further exemplifies the correlation between human population and species extinction. With the increasing number of human beings, the chances of life expectancy in other countries such as Africa and southern Asia lowers as well. it creates stress on the vital resources for survival and increases the difficulty of accessing the consistent supply of quality food, water, energy, health, security and shelter. Additionally, it coerces the poor to draw  in poverty, and they often have poor living conditions to survive. According to a Harvard study, “Over the next forty years, nearly all (97%) of the 2.3 billion projected increase will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half (49%) in Africa.” With the population continuously growing, countries such as in Sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, experience a demotion of their quality and length of life as they face difficulties to supply water, food, energy and shelter, which can create major issues for public health, security measures and economic growth. Those who believe overpopulation is just a myth would argue that none of the aforementioned points are valid and he only reason humans are running out of resources is because of over usage of them, not simply because the number of living beings – specifically human beings- has increased over a relatively short time. They simply ignore the fact that increase of human beings also means the increase of humane requirements; hence the excessive usage of the finite sources. The earth might have the capacity to hold ten billion people, but does it have enough sources for their survival? They would also argue that by raising the question of whether human race is populated, they are being stripped off of their rights to become parents or even call people who chose not to have children ‘selfish’. However, truth is the privileged people with access to birth control and good education who insist on breeding because they want a ‘true heir’, rather than adopting one of the thousands of homeless children, are the most selfish people. Of the 400,000 children in the Foster system, there are around 100,000 children waiting to be adopted at any given time. Over 100,000 children are currently waiting to be adopted and very likely losing hope of this happening by the day. Claiming that overpopulation is just a conspiracy theory and is a way to advocate not having children is completely false because adoption is always the alternative and a beneficial solution for the planet’s survival. Some other solutions to reduce the hazard of overpopulation could be better education, making people aware of family planning and tax benefits or concessions.Overpopulation, simply put, is extremely dangerous yet so overlooked. This topic is extremely controversial to discuss, so very much like the topic of abortion or climate change. The thing to keep in mind about population growth is that it accelerates all the unpleasant things and effects about modern life and modern city life in particular with few if any corresponding benefits. Effects such as: excessive crowding and pollution, more industrial complexity, more opportunities for political conflict, greater inferential distances between groups of people, lower life expectancy, endangering the environment,  loss of biodiversity, extinction of animals,  more strained transportation systems and most importantly fewer available sources. Considering the foregoing, it is safe to state that overpopulation is a great threat to the planet earth. Every minute  a person denies population grows, they are contributing to the destruction of all the beautiful places and creatures in the world and even mankind, and yet they still choose not to believe the facts. To them it seems far fetched that the resources, the places and their home would not stay forever therefore they choose to ignore the issue. For the planet earth to survive, human race needs to coexist with other beings and be in perfect harmony with each other. They need to see the bigger picture and think of the future generations; for if they presume with their old ways, there would be no place to call home.

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