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Overpopulation: The Facts and Solutions

Overpopulation: The Facts and Solutions thumbnail

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.

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

12 Comments on "Overpopulation: The Facts and Solutions"

  1. BillT on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 2:50 am 

    Whoulda, shoulda, coulda, but didn’t. The epitaph on humanity’s tomb stone.

    So Martin Luther King knew we had to cut population 46 years, 2 generations ago. And was ignored. What makes anyone think that anything has changed? We still don’t want to hear it. The world’s major religions preach big families. Conditions in other parts of the world are so bad they cannot stop having kids or they will have no one to help them in old age because their governments are dictatorships or worse.

    Like the use of fossil fuels, human population growth will go on until it cannot.

  2. Kenjamkov on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 9:00 am 

    Mother Nature will take care of the us and the Earth eventually. Soon there will be less to worry about. At least the planet will still be here. Maybe in another million years plants and animals will be back to high species levels again.

    “ELE: mankind” is worse than the last meteor strike to life on our planet.

  3. DC on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 11:57 am 

    – Minimize your consumption
    As much as I would agree over-consumption is ‘a’ problem, this has little to do with over-popluation. IoW, over-consumption does not cause over-popluation. The link between the two is remote at best. Overpopluation is the result of many converging factors. Rate of consumption of resources is just one of many, and not even a very important one. Poor countries that consume far less resources than we do, are exploding all out of proporation to there resource use.

    – Use contraception
    The only one of the three that makes any sort of sense. The only flaw in this plan is everyone has to use it in a precise and measured fashion. Too few(which is argueably whats happening now), the pop rises anyhow.

    – Do all you can to protect the environment
    Again who would argue with that? But again, what does this have to do with over-population. Protect the enviroment so more hordes will have a few protected areas to clear-cut before the crash? Protecting the enviroment, presumeably from the ravages of over-population(im guessing) is futile and pointless. When the easter islanders were eating each other, do you think they held commitess do discuss setting up a national park to save the last trees?

    Somehow, I dont think that was on the agenda. Its certainly not on ours.

    The writer may mean well, but clearly has zero understanding of just what over-population is. Corporate rule requries an ever expanding population to feed its infinite growth paradigm. Fossil-fuels gave them the means to do it. Thus, Canada and the US add between them alone, 1.25 million people mainly from illegal and legal immigration evey single year. Despite the clear fact the economy does not need, nor can support them. Nor can the enviroment take more more abuse from our high maintence lifestlyes. Even the 400 million dirt poor amerikans were going to have a few decades will turn middle of N.A. into one giant desert once the Fossil-fuels stop flowing. Then, they starve. The Canadians will freeze in our poorly built,car-dependant spawly cities and the Mexicans will have no water or fuel, haveing long sold it to amerikans for pesos on the dollar, for there 100-200 million+ people and will decline into abject chaos.

    That is where over-population is going to lead.

    Education is a wonderful thing, but despite haveing globally the highest # and % of literate people, scientists and engineers etc ever, the population still spirals out of control. If every human on the planet has the ~ of say, Grade 12 education a minimum, which would be a huge improvement over what we have now, who here thinks that whould have anything more than a cosmetic effect on over-population?

  4. Mike on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 12:42 pm 

    These solutions won’t work

    Government soultions will pander to who ever is giving the biggest donation. Monsanto will Lobby to say the GMO’s will save the world, and the politicians will agree because lets face it they are pretty clueless. Whoever lobbies the hardest, wins. So whoever rapes the world the most and gets the most money dictates what direction government will take. Real clever

    Sexual health education won’t do anything because people actually get handouts from government for being sexually irresponsible. Stop the handouts and you get a riot.

    I have spent the last 10 years trying to teach sustainability to people. People like the ideas but don’t like the fact that it means living at a much lower standard (at least from the current cultures viewpoint.)

    Sustainability and capitalism can never and will never work together. One is the conservation of energy and resources and the other is the exploitation of resources and energy as fast as you can to make a quick buck. How will those two paradigms ever work together?

  5. Kenz300 on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 2:03 pm 

    Over population is always the elephant in the room when there are discussions of food shortages, water shortages, decline of fish stocks, climate change, unemployment, poverty, hunger and despair.

    None of these problems will be solved without dealing with the ever growing world population.

    Every country needs to develop a plan to balance population, food, water, energy and jobs. Those that do not will be exporting their populations.

  6. BillT on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 2:37 pm 

    Look at the countries that have booming populations. Then look at the levels of education. Then, most importantly, look at the freedom that females have to just say NO! in that country. THERE is your population explosion fuel. Male libidos and control. The need to prove their ‘manhood’ by dominating their women and not giving them the power to just say NO!.

    You disagree? Look at the countries where women are not dominated by the males…like America and Europe for the most part. Russia, and yes, even China. Low birth rates. Education plus women’s rights = fewer children.

    Then look at the Catholic and Muslim dominated countries…and to a smaller extent the Mormon Church and see what they say are a women’s duties. To be subservient (breeders) to the men.

  7. Bernz223 on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 5:53 pm 

    Forced sterilization through indirect means ie food, water, medicine supply. This applies mainly to third world countries and to a less extenct everyone else.

  8. Kenz300 on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 6:41 pm 

    It amazes me that the Republican Christian right is against contraception. Overpopulation only leads to more poverty, suffering and despair.

  9. Frank Kling on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 10:04 am 

    Every 24 hours the worldwide human population bloats by 285,000 while during this same time frame another 39 animal and plant species, on average, are driven extinct.

    Nothing will be done until catastrophe arrives. On the other hand the world will simply slowly disintegrate into a Soylent Green type existence.

    Perhaps an ET life form will deem it necessary to exterminate the human race lest we destroy every other life form.

  10. Frank Kling on Tue, 10th Apr 2012 10:14 am 

    Read Jared Diamond’s history of Easter Island to learn the fate of the entire planet. When Pacific Islanders landed on Easter they discovered a virtual Garden of Eden-forests teeming with unique wildlife, the largest palms found anywhere in the world, rich volcanic soils, and an ocean of bounty. These factors allowed the population to surge and for a while life was so easy that the residents had spare time to build the toppled over ghostly statues that exist today. After sufficient time, the humans hunted the wildlife to extinction and cut down every last tree to be found thus preventing them from exploiting the ocean. When Captain Cook discovered the island he found a few tribes of people living in filthy conditions whose only food source was cannibalism. Welcome to planet Earth’s future. It’s guaranteed.

  11. well just me on Wed, 28th Sep 2016 9:22 am 

    Just bomb everyone and that’s how you can solve it I’m just saying or let families only have so many children because on like 19 kids and counting we don’t need too many more of those so just its not our fault there is over population I’m only 14

  12. JAMES Daniel ONeill on Sun, 4th Mar 2018 3:23 pm 

    Good-Day! The SOLUTION is the TI-TO plan, legalized WORLD-WIDE! Please see the TI-TO plan @ !

    Do IT for your kids and thiers, plus well BEYOND!

    Sincerely, James Daniel ONeill

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