Will We Overpopulate?
by Curtis Hu
We all know it’s coming, but we mostly ignore it. With a rapidly increasing population, could our Earth’s resources even support everyone? Will there be a war over resources? To philosophers and professionals, this is surprisingly not necessarily the case. Having a massive population is not the biggest concern globally or nationally. They say the idea of overpopulation is mostly a rumor and it’s not going to lead us to extinction.
It is quite clear to professionals that our population is quickly growing and expanding. According to BBC, human population was barely under the 1 billion mark in 1800s; By 1920, it reached 2 billion and then 7 billion in another century. According to United Nations estimate, we would reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and up to 11 billion by 2100. To many, this rate of increase is shocking, but it won’t mean extinction or war.
Fertility rates play an essential role in our population. Research by the UN Population Division says that worldwide fertility has now fallen from 4.7 in 1970-75 to 2.6 in 2005-10. This shows that as our environment changes, the need for more children is lower. According to Bill Gates, he discovered that “as health improves, families choose to have less children.” Other changes such as less need for labor on farms or the cost of raising a child have made many reconsider having children.
A more significant concern for our problem is simply our consumption of resources. It is as simple as Gandhi said: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Wasting energy, water, and food is why scientists say overpopulation isn’t the main concern. A similar pattern that BBC pointed out shows that“[c]itizens of more affluent nations leave a much greater footprint on our planet than people living in poorer countries.” Wealthier countries with all the resources, advancement, money are more impactful to Earth. In the 2015 study of Industrial Ecology, wealthier household citizens are reliable for more than 60% of our planet’s greenhouse gases and 50 to 80% of the Earth’s land, material, and water use. Wasting so much is possibly leading us into a civil war over power and people. Though change is difficult, it sits as the only way to get Earth to a better state.
Can we live differently? There are some unusual exceptions of having large populations, happy life, and little emissions. BBC states, “Copenhagen is the capital of a high-income nation – Denmark – while Porto Alegre is in upper-middle-income Brazil. Living standards are high in both cities, yet per capita emissions are relatively low.” Like these two cities, we too can learn to reduce our footprint and live without emissions.
Many scientists say that a higher population will come, but it’s not really overpopulation if we learn to regulate our consumption. “The world population will inevitably increase by 2 to 3 billion between now and 2050 because of demographic inertia that no one can prevent.” says The Conversation.
By reducing our environmental impact and help developing countries without magnifying the effects, we can make a sustainable population for many more years to come. As our future generation grows, we can seek new solutions to problems such as this. Encourage others to live efficiently, but without much waste of energy. By thinking about our actions, we can build our future to be longer and better.