Overpopulation: The Facts and Solutions

This post is part of a series of Care2 Earth Day posts. Click here for more in this series.

There are currently about 7 billion people in the world…and that number continues to rise.

Overpopulation can be caused by a number of factors, including an increase in births, a decline in mortality rates, an increase in immigration, and/or an unsustainable habitat (in this case Earth) and depletion of resources. Why is overpopulation an issue? Unfortunately, it is the root of most environmental and economic concerns, such as:

- Over-harvesting of timber
- Depletion of oil
- Loss of arable land
- Ocean depletion
- Food and water shortages
- Air and water pollution
- Flooding
- Plant and animal habitat loss
- Extinction of other species
- Global warming
- Unsustainable debt-based economies
- Poverty
- Starvation
- Disease
- Elevated crime rates
- Mortality

“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.”
-ABF U-Pack Moving

The Solution

When I say solution, it’s not as black and white as the word implies. Solution tends to imply “fix,” which in the case of overpopulation the only way to truly fix the problem would be to reduce the number of people. Since that is not a viable option, “solution” really means “maintenance” in this case. So when I say solution, I mean what is being done and what you can do to help the cause. Let’s start with what is being done:

- Government policies: Many believe the answer is in government policies that will ensure current and future human needs are met. These policies revolve around global issues like poverty, agriculture/food, environmental concerns, and access to reproductive health.

- Accessibility to sexual health care: There are countless organizations dedicated to helping women and youth have access to sexual and reproductive health care. Over 150 million couples do not have access to contraception worldwide, so some suggest an increase in reproductive services would be vital to the cause. In the most extreme cases, some governments have put restrictions on reproduction, such as China.

“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.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr – May 5, 1966

-Environmental protection and research for alternative resources: A population can only grow as much as its resources, so various initiatives are aimed at preserving the environment (which is being damaged by this overpopulation issue) and looking into alternative sustainable resources. By decreasing our reliance on non-renewable resources (or ones that don’t reproduce as quickly as we consume them), some organizations are looking for a long-term solution that will help repair what damage has already been done.

- Education and empowerment: Many believe overpopulation is a result of ignorance and inaccessibility. So to curb it, many suggest that programs aimed at spreading awareness will help minimize population stresses.

There are other solutions constantly being explored, and it isn’t a one-word answer. Rather, all of these are working together to stop the overpopulation crisis.

Next: What You Can Do

What You Can Do

While overpopulation is largely an issue that is bigger than the individual, there are a few things you can do to support the collective cause, such as:

- Minimize your consumption
- Use contraception
- Do all you can to protect the environment

You can also make a difference by supporting the organizations and initiatives that affect change. How can you support them? Any way you can. That could include things like donations, volunteering, spreading awareness among your social circle, or even organizing a fundraising event. Fundraising ideas abound and are only limited by your imagination.

Here are some of the organizations that are helping curb overpopulation:

- UNFPA: The United Nations Population Fund promotes equality for all people. Its mission is to help governments by collecting information about different populations (think censuses), providing sexual reproductive healthcare to women and youths, and family planning. Here is an in-depth article they released about the population as of 2011.

- Population Institute: The Population Institute educates policymakers and the public about population and promotes universal access to family planning, education, and services.

- The Audubon Society: Th Audubon Society aims at protecting the habitat of plants and animals, addressing the stressors that the population puts on these species.

- Worldwatch Institute: The Worldwatch Institute provides information to decisionmakers about environmental concerns by developing and disseminating data and strategies on topics such as climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty.

For a list of more overpopulation organizations, check out this list from WOA.

“4.5 Earths would be required to support a global population living like an average resident of the U.S.”
- Jim Leape, WWF International

stock photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Related:
Is Overpopulation a Green Myth?
How Many People Is Too Many?
7 Billion People and Counting

This post is part of a series of Care2 Earth Day posts. Click here for more in this series.

88 comments

Leia P.
Leia P.2 months ago

don't have children

Parsifal Rain Satori
ParsifalAWAY S.2 years ago

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man s needs but not for every man s greed'
- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Rinkesh Kukreja
Rinkesh Kukreja3 years ago

Same copy of this article is posted here:

http://peakoil.com/enviroment/overpopulation-the-facts-and-solutions

Robert N.
Robert N.3 years ago

I have a slow but perhaps workable solution.
While the problems are many, I think we can agree that many would work against attempts
to control population, either for greed, religion, selfishness, etc. The cure is to "allow" people
to suffer the consequeces for their actions.
To that End, I'd sugest Changing the way emmigration works world wide. Allow any to emmigrate anywhere they like....as long as they can find someone to trade places with them.
that way. population pressures are internal, and those countries will have to deal with it.

John J.
John J.3 years ago

i think people shud realize that taking care of the environment is in our best interest, nature doesn't give a crap. it might take a million years or so but nature will end up aight its us thats effed.

Suzy D.
Suzy D.4 years ago

You`re quite right Marie. W,
when I was a child they were saying that the world population could comfortably stand on the Isle of Wight, which is a small island off the south coast of England, and thereby considerably smaller than Texas !

No doubt they`ll wait until the world population brings us to the verge of apocalypse, and then glibly announce that the world population could comfortably stand up in Alaska !

Suzy D.
Suzy D.4 years ago

The world population has just officially reached 7 Billion and there are morons out there celebrating the fact. I`ve done all I can, including keeping my commitment to never have children. Unfortunately, I feel my efforts are being trampled on by those who either won`t listen, don`t give a damn, or who are in ignorance !

Henriette Matthijssen

Check out the video's on Overpopulation is a myth! http://www.project.nsearch.com/video/7-billion-people-everybody-relax?xg_source=activity

Annemarie W.
Annemarie L.4 years ago

Thank you. Interesting for sure!

Marie W.
Marie W.4 years ago

Cont.
How would we ensure proper sanitation and effective waste disposal? Overcrowding, combined with inadequate sewer systems, resource scarcity and lack of infrastructure, is bound to lead to the outbreak of disease, civil unrest, conflict and destitution.
The truth is, people need much more than just the land they are standing on. In order to be healthy and safe, they need space that far exceeds the .025 acres that Texas would offer.
So take that old canard and give it the burial it needed long ago.