Human overpopulation: our biggest environmental problem

There’s a lot of interest in environmental and green issues these days. Much of it is focused on recycling, alternative energy, reducing consumption of natural resources, organic gardening, and many more. It’s great to see so many concerned people getting involved in reducing their impact on our planet’s environment, but it seems as though there’s one issue that does not get much attention: human overpopulation. It’s ironic because this should be our main concern, one that stands out in front of all others. The world human population is now 6.9 million people. According to the United Nations, the global population could be as high as 11 billion in 2050. Countries are becoming more modern and industrialized, and people are consuming more resources and polluting more. Population growth stretches natural resources to their limits. Deforestation, food and water shortages, and climate change are all intensified by the addition of nearly 80 million people a year to the world’s population.

Since 1968, Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth or ZPG) has been America’s voice for population stabilization. On their about page:

“We are the largest grassroots population organization in the United States. Population Connection has 130,000 members, supporters, and participating educators. We educate young people about unsustainable population growth through K-12 lesson plans that reach 3 million students a year. We inform constituents across the country about their congressional representatives’ stances on population growth and family planning. And we work directly with Congress and the White House to inform family planning policy.

The global population has grown from 3.5 billion when ZPG was founded, to nearly 7 billion today. Population growth rates have fallen around the world because of the success of voluntary family planning programs. But the global fertility rate is 2.5 – still higher than the “replacement level” of 2.1 children per woman.

Population Connection works to ensure that every woman around the world who wants to limit her childbearing has access to the health services and contraceptive supplies she needs in order to do so. Typically, when woman have access to affordable birth control, they have fewer children, regardless of income or educational levels.”

You might be asking what you can do about it? Well, good question. Just by reading this, you have taken a step in the right direction. Awareness is the foundation of wisdom and understanding. From this we can build a better future. The best way to change the future is to teach the children to become good adults, by being good role models for them. We can make a conscious effort to reproduce less or not at all, and we can encourage others to do the same. We can support organizations like Population Connection, and others. One person’s behaviors may not change the world, but if enough of us become aware and unified, we can make a difference on the future of Planet Earth.

Following are four graphs illustrating some statistics of global population.

This first one shows the rapid explosion of global population in recent centuries.

Human Population History
Human Population History

Human Population Density. Note the high densities of India, Japan and Europe.

Human Population Density
Human Population Density

Fertility rates. Note the high rates in central Africa, south Arabia and Afganistan.

Fertility_rate_world_map
Fertility_rate_world_map

Net migration rate. Orange shows more people leaving (emigration), blue more coming in (immigration).

Net_migration_rate_world
Net_migration_rate_world

Works Cited:Population Connection. “Protecting the Planet.” Aug2011.
http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_protectingtheplanet

Population Connection. “About Us.” Aug2011.
http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_us

Graphs:

Wikipedia. “Overpopulation.” Aug2011.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overpopulation

Wikipedia. “Immigration.” Aug2011.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration

What's on your roamind?