You may have heard it said that there are more people alive now than have ever existed previously on Earth. Although that may seem like a tall tale, our booming population has brought about several issues including resource shortages, increased industrialization and various pressures on environmental sectors. Whilst human overpopulation seems like it might be a problem that has been over blown, there are some real risks associated to it that we are currently beginning to witness.
Usually, overpopulation is defined as the point at which the ecological footprint of a population exceeds the carrying capacity of the place occupied by that group. From a long term perspective, overpopulation can be seen as the rapid depletion of non-renewable resources or degradation of the capacity of the environment to support the population. Exceeding the environment’s carrying capacity for resources can take several years before it becomes a major issue, with an uncontrolled collapse in said resources often times the main problem.
Human overpopulation has become a rising issue as scientists warn we may be reaching a point where our consumption is no longer sustainable. Poor agricultural practices have led to land degradation to the point that it can no longer be farmed, whilst excessive land clearing for cattle has destroyed fertile land, in addition to this, climate change has altered weather patterns and environments to the point that farms are failing and animal reserves are put under increased pressure.
In some parts of the world, farm degradation has led to failing crops and a lack of resource production, leading to rural farmers losing their livelihoods and moving to the city in search for work – further increasing overpopulation in certain areas that are unable to support the amount of people relying on it for food, services and other amenities. It is for this reason that advocates are pushing for more sustainability and future protection as part of everyday decision-making on a town planning basis.
New technology, better quality of life and access to life saving medicine has led to our current point of population growth. Whilst reducing population might seem like the best option, it is also one of the hardest to achieve. Some of the potential issues of human overpopulation includes lack of resources (water, food, land), mass migrations, population collapse, ecological collapse, economic collapse and associated increases in mortality, poverty and war, as countries fight for additional resources. If this sounds like the plot for a dystopian novel, it is because it is, with several movies and books having tried to accurately portray what human overpopulation could eventually lead to.