Overpopulation identifies the growth of the population to the extent when the planet fails to regenerate the resources consumed by humans. The rapid population growth affects the sociopolitical, economical, and ecological conditions. The understanding of overpopulation reasons will help create the conditions to limit unsustainable population growth, empower women for development in various aspects and educate on birth control.
Overpopulation is a term, which indicates a population exceeding its sustainable size and lacking the resources for survival as an average person on the planet consumes at a rate over 50% above a sustainable level. In the middle of the 18th century, the Earth’s population was less than 800 million people. Today with a population approaching 8 billion, the expected growth until 2050 is at least 2 more billion. Changes in medical, technological, agricultural, financial spheres are among the main factors, which lead to streamlined overpopulation. Some discussions about overpopulation and approaches to dealing with it become rather controversial as they may divide people into groups and suggest priority of one group or another based on social and economic background.
The decline in mortality rate. The progress in medicine allowed humans to overcome the illnesses, which previously resulted in deaths. Since 1900, the average life expectancy has doubled, while the infant mortality rate has decreased more than twice.
Underused contraception. Despite the global contraception use growth trend, it remains underutilized. According to the estimates of the WHO, about 214 million women in developing countries intending to avoid pregnancy do not use contraceptives.
Insufficient female education. Fertility rates are influenced greatly by the level of female education, which has the potential to offer development opportunities other than early marriage. Still, the number of boys of primary school age who get education exceeds greatly the number of the girls.
Innovations in food production. Technological improvements in agriculture result in higher quality seeds and crops for larger amounts of food to nourish the population.
Consequences of the overpopulation
Natural resources exhaustion. The overconsumption of natural resources at a faster rate than the planet is able to generate is the reason for most geopolitical conflicts.
Ecological degradation. Pollution, deforestation, growth of energy production from fossil fuels, extinction of the species, changes in the water cycle are inevitably caused by the rapid population growth.
High risks of pandemics. When destroying wildlife and contacting wild animals humans receive the pathogens originated from animals or insects, such as COVID-19, Zika, Ebola. Overpopulation reduces the possibilities of creating conditions for social distance.
Rural areas depopulation. Abandoned or under-used infrastructure in some ecosystems happens due to migration to bigger cities.
Technology development. The positive effect of the growing population in the cities is the favorable conditions for R&D for the population needs and emergence of Smart Cities aiming to raise living conditions.
Ways to limit unsustainable population growth
Empowering women and creating the conditions for their growth outside of the family reduce the early birth numbers and motivate them to use birth control. The education on family planning leads to more responsible and conscious choices and impacts the trajectory of the world's population.