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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

Causes and Effects of Overpopulation Essay Example


In current times, there exist many issues that threaten our lives. Overpopulation, also known as population overshoot, is one of these issues. Overpopulation has the potential to have extremely adverse effects on our nations and the planet in general. The issues that come up as a result of overpopulation have the potential lead to a deadly pandemic that will ultimately eradicate the whole human population. Overpopulation is often overlooked because of insufficient knowledge and comprehension of the matter or probably because some of us have more than enough that we aren’t feeling the current effects of overpopulation. Overpopulation is a grave worldwide concern that needs to be acknowledged, explored, and dealt with immediately.

Research on Overpopulation

There are the various theories that study the issue of population. One of them is the Malthusian theory fronted by Robert Malthus. He was amongst the first to research the human population. In the end, a population outgrows its resources, and then calamities like famine and diseases will lead to a limit in the population. According to Malthus, the capability of a population is indefinitely greater than the capacity of the earth to produce for man. This can be further described by the notion that the increase in populations occurs geometrically, while the increase in resources can occur arithmetically. This is a logical theory because the absence of food results in malnutrition and in the end starvation creeps in. Matters concerning food shortages do not get too much attention in mainstream America because most people think they don’t have any reason to be concerned about the risks of food shortages. Thanks to the media, this has become a more serious issue, and people have begun to take notice. Starvation is a severe problem in many corners of the world. Every year, over 40 million people in less developed countries die as a result of malnutrition or sicknesses associated with it. Inadequate nutrition can lead to illnesses such as rickets, etc. Inadequate immunity is also one thing that can put expose people to diseases such as influenza and tuberculosis. Different situations are responsible for the increase and decrease in the population.

A Growing Concern

Overpopulation in our case means that the total number of human beings that rely on the earth’s resources is considerably more significant than the existing natural resources. Since the outbreak of the Bubonic plague, human population has been increasing steadily. Between the occurrence of the plague and the 21st century, many wars, natural calamities, and man-made disasters occurred. However, none of these have drastically reduced the population. Nowadays, the planet is experiencing the consequences of an increased human population because of what nature’s being put through. Most people believe that currently planet earth is occupied by too many people. As years go by, the population keeps on increasing at a faster rate. Currently, over 7 billion people are inhabiting this planet, and by the middle of the coming century, the United Nations estimates that the number will surpass 9 billion. All countries nations will feel the adverse effects brought about by overpopulation. It has been estimated that Asia will be responsible for around 60% of this increase. The Chinese population will increase to around 1.5 billion, while the total population of India is projected to rise to slightly over 1.5 billion. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the population will probably increase threefold, while the population might possibly more than double in North Africa and the Mid East. Concerns regarding overpopulation did not begin recently. This is a topic that has been in existence for a very long time. In the second century CE, one author named Tertullian from Carthage stated that the human population at that time was burdensome to the planet, which could not sufficiently support humans. He further mentioned that calamities like wars, famine, and earthquakes need to be viewed as a way of balancing out the population (this was at the time when the earth's population was about 190 million). It took many years to reach 1 billion people, yet this figure has increased sevenfold in a span of a little over two centuries. The population is influenced by the relationship between two factors: birth rate and death rate. The difference between these two factors is referred to as the rate of natural increase. If the total number of deaths doesn’t surpass the number of births, then it means that the population is increasing. On the other hand, if the number of births is less than the number of deaths, then it implies that there’s population reduction. One crucial aspect that’s at times ignored is the idea that population increase will happen because of the superior size of the current reproductive generation as compared to past reproductive generations. This intimates that in about 25 years the reproductive phase of around three billion inhabitants will begin, while around 1.8 billion inhabitants are going to exit that phase of life. Uncontrolled procreation is a major cause of overpopulation. Advancements in medicine that have led to a reduction in mortality rates are also factors that affect human population. Migration is another factor that has led to overpopulation, whereby most people from developing countries prefer to move to developed countries like those in Europe and the US. Over time, as a result of this influx of people, those areas become overpopulated. Also, education, economic activities, and variations in living standards all bring about population increase.

Effect on the Environment

Various notions and appearances in our environment deceive people into believing that any issues with overpopulation do not exist. Countries are classified into two groups: those whose population increases rapidly, and those whose population grows gradually. One thing to note is that a community that’s increasingly at odds with itself will lead to further degradation of the environment as various factions within it strive to be dominant over the other and utilize what remains of the earth’s resources. World leaders need to realize that it is imperative for us to create a sense of togetherness on a large scale to correspond with the worldwide environmental disaster that threatens everybody. The world has enough resources to create the illusion that there’re no overpopulation issues. However, the wealth isn't that beneficial because of its imbalanced distribution. The birth rate in developing nations is often higher birth due to poverty. Human population in poverty-stricken countries will double in about 20 years if the present rate persists. As for prosperous nations, population will double up in 120 years. This is as a result of the economic and social disparities between the two groups, for instance, diseases and living standards. An increase in the human population can lead to various environmental concerns. Overpopulation has endangered the ecosystem in one way or another. It is the cause of issues like global warming, deforestation, environmental pollution, among others. Global warming is simply the increase in the overall global temperatures due to a higher concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Various human activities release these gases, leading to the gradual heating of the Earth. The increasing number of vehicles and industries has greatly affected the quality of the air we breathe. The rate at which rainforests are being cleared is higher than the rate at which they can regenerate by themselves. This happens because of the need for more space for human settlements. Other consequences of deforestation include the extinction of various species. A biologist called Edward Wilson believes that every year, over 10,000 species of birds, insects, mammals, plants, and reptiles become extinct. The increase in pollution is also another obvious environment issue that will continue to occur as a result of rapid population growth. Even though it’s not mentioned regularly, crime is one of the adverse effects of overpopulation as far as social troubles are concerned. In this case, crime arises as a result of the rise in unemployment. Overpopulation means more people competing for the few jobs available. Conflicts can also occur as a result of overpopulation, whereby people fight over the already depleted resources. There have been conflicts over water bodies among several countries.

Recommended Solutions

Other than the causes of overpopulation and its harmful effects on the planet, the following are recommendations that would assist in stopping, or at least, create a balance. A reduction in the birth rates by using various techniques is the most common of these ideas. Others have proposed the idea of raising the legal marital age which would delay childbearing. Family planning is another well-known strategy. Family planning is effective if the birth control pills are easily accessible to all, places for termination of pregnancies are provided and assisting people to become more aware of contraception and abortion. Other people have recommended that laws can be passed that make birth control mandatory (just like the laws in China). In accordance with Chinese laws, families with more than one child will be penalized. Other countries have more stringent laws. Most people agree that birth rate and death rate control would be the most efficient method of dealing with overpopulation. Governments can come up with various policies that deal with tax exemptions, for instance, they can lower the tax rates on income tax for the couples who have utmost two children.


The causes and consequences of overpopulation cover such a wide range of issues that it is not easy for someone to tackle every critical aspect of this ever-increasing problem. This essay has provided facts that are important in comprehending that we should treat this issue of rapid population with the urgency it deserves. The human population will keep on increasing provided that the birth rates exceed the death rates. In as much as resources are concerned, it is clear that the period of low-cost energy, sufficient food supply, and critical open spaces is ending. Irrespective of whether we want to acknowledge it or not, our efforts towards stabilizing the populace or our failure to succeed in doing so will have a profound effect on us all and on the earth in general. Alongside climate change, overpopulation remains one of the biggest crises facing humanity at the moment. If the masses aren’t educated on the negative impacts of human overpopulation, then tough times await us.