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Effects of overpopulation

Some problems associated with or exacerbated by human overpopulation:

Inadequate fresh water[115] for drinking water use as well as sewage treatment and effluent discharge. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, use energy-expensive desalination to solve the problem of water shortages.[137][138] Depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels[139] Increased levels of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution. Once a country has industrialized and become wealthy, a combination of government regulation and technological innovation causes pollution to decline substantially, even as the population continues to grow.[140] Deforestation and loss of ecosystems[141] that sustain global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide balance; about eight million hectares of forest are lost each year.[142] Changes in atmospheric composition and consequent global warming[143] [144] Irreversible loss of arable land and increases in desertification[145] Deforestation and desertification can be reversed by adopting property rights, and this policy is successful even while the human population continues to grow.[146] Mass species extinctions.[147] from reduced habitat in tropical forests due to slashand-burn techniques that sometimes are practiced by shifting cultivators, especially in countries with rapidly expanding rural populations; present extinction rates may be as high as 140,000 species lost per year.[148] As of 2007, the IUCN Red List lists a total of 698 animal species having gone extinct during recorded human history.[149] High infant and child mortality.[150] High rates of infant mortality are caused by poverty. Rich countries with high population densities have low rates of infant mortality. [5] Increased chance of the emergence of new epidemics and pandemics[151] For many environmental and social reasons, including overcrowded living conditions, malnutrition and inadequate, inaccessible, or non-existent health care, the poor are more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases.[152] Starvation, malnutrition[114] or poor diet with ill health and diet-deficiency diseases (e.g. rickets). However, rich countries with high population densities do not have famine.[153] Poverty coupled with inflation in some regions and a resulting low level of capital formation. Poverty and inflation are aggravated by bad government and bad economic policies. Many countries with high population densities have eliminated absolute poverty and keep their inflation rates very low.[120] Low life expectancy in countries with fastest growing populations[154] Unhygienic living conditions for many based upon water resource depletion, discharge of raw sewage[155] and solid waste disposal. However, this problem can be reduced with the adoption of sewers. For example, after Karachi, Pakistan installed sewers, its infant mortality rate fell substantially. [156] Elevated crime rate due to drug cartels and increased theft by people stealing resources to survive[157]

Conflict over scarce resources and crowding, leading to increased levels of warfare[158]

[edit] Mitigation measures


While the current world trends are not indicative of any realistic solution to human overpopulation during the 21st century, there are several mitigation measures that have or can be applied to reduce the adverse impacts of overpopulation.

[edit] Birth control


See also: Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church#Opposition to contraception Overpopulation is also related to issue of birth control, with some nations like China using strict measures in order to reduce birth rates, while religious and ideological opposition to birth control has been cited as a factor contributing to overpopulation and poverty.[159] There are an estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world who either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means and services to determine the size and spacing of their families. In the developing world, some 514,000 women die annually of complications from pregnancy and abortion. Additionally, 8 million infants die, many because of malnutrition or preventable diseases, especially from lack of access to clean drinking water.[160] In the United States, in 2001, almost half of pregnancies were unintended.[161] Many philosophers, including Thomas Malthus, have said at various times that when man doesn't check population-growth, nature takes its course. However, this course might not necessarily result in the death of humans through catastrophes; instead it might result in infertility. German scientists have reported that a virus called Adeno-associated virus might have a role in male infertility[162], though it's otherwise not harmful[163]. Consequently, if this or similar viruses mutate, they might cause infertility on a largescale, though otherwise not harming humans, thus resulting in human population-control over time naturally.

[edit] Other Implemented

Indira Gandhi, late Prime Minister of India, implemented a forced sterilization programme in the 1970s. Officially, men with two children or more had to submit to sterilization, but many unmarried young men, political opponents and ignorant men were also believed to have been sterilized. This program is still remembered and criticized in India, and is blamed for creating a wrong public aversion to family planning, which hampered Government programmes for decades.[164]

As of June 2008, Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hatem el-Gabali announced that his country has set aside 480 million Egyptian pounds (about 90 million U.S. dollars) to cope with its overpopulation problem through family planning.[165]

[edit] Suggested

Some people argue about the futility of marriage, and propose "no-marriage", and, thus, "no-children" as a solution[166][167]. NoMarriage quotes: "most people end up having kids because 1) They are unknowledgeable regarding proper use of birth control and/or 2) They have an unrealistic vision of what parenthood entails."[168] Others propose that governments around the world should stop spending funds on child-vaccination because children would and should survive naturally by principle of "survival of the fittest", rather than artificially through vaccination, and argue that humans survived even before the introduction of modern vaccination. They suggest that the funds saved from vaccination should instead be better spent on providing free-of-cost primary and higher education to everyone, particularly the meritorious but needy scholars and students. Alternatively, they argue that it was only the introduction of modern vaccination that led to the growth in world population from less than 1 billion people to more than 6 billion people in the 20th century only. They argue about the futility of saving children who are unable to get proper and higher education, thus, leading to unemployment because such uneducated children gradually become a burden on society as well as their nation as many of them resort to becoming criminals as well as inflating population.[citation needed] Some leaders and environmentalists (including Ted Turner) have suggested that there is an urgent need to strictly implement a China-like one-child policy globally by the United Nations, because this would help control and reduce population gradually and most successfully as is evidenced by the success and resultant economic-growth of China due to reduction of poverty in recent years[169] [170] . Because such a policy would be uniformly and unanimously implemented globally and would be implemented by a reputable central-global organization (United Nations), it would face little or no political and social opposition from individual countries. Huffington Post quotes: "There is a far better way -- and it is something we should be pursuing anyway. It is called feminism. Where women have control over their own bodies -- through contraception, abortion and general independence -- they choose not to be perpetually pregnant. The UN Fund For Population Activities has calculated that 350 million women in the poorest countries didn't want their last child, but didn't have the means to prevent it. We should be helping them by building a global anti-Vatican, distributing the pill and the words of Mary Wollstonecraft."[171]

Another option is to focus on education about overpopulation, family planning, and birth control methods as well as to make birth-control devices like male/female condoms and pills easily available.

[edit] Extraterrestrial settlement In the 1970s, Gerard O'Neill suggested building space habitats that could support 30,000 times the carrying capacity of Earth using just the asteroid belt and that the solar system as a whole could sustain current population growth rates for a thousand years.[172] Marshall Savage (1992, 1994) has projected a population of five quintillion throughout the solar system by 3000, with the majority in the asteroid belt.[173] Arthur C. Clarke, a fervent supporter of Savage, argued that by 2057 there will be humans on the Moon, Mars, Europa, Ganymede, Titan and in orbit around Venus, Neptune and Pluto.[174] Freeman Dyson (1999) favours the Kuiper belt as the future home of humanity, suggesting this could happen within a few centuries.[175] In Mining the Sky, John S. Lewis suggests that the resources of the solar system could support 10 quadrillion (10^16) people. K. Eric Drexler, famous inventor of the futuristic concept of Molecular Nanotechnology, has suggested in Engines of Creation that colonizing space will mean breaking the Malthusian limits to growth for the human species. Many authors (eg. Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke,[176] Isaac Asimov[177]) have argued that shipping the excess population into space is no solution to human overpopulation, saying that (Clarke, 1999) "the population battle must be fought or won here on Earth." It is not the lack of resources in space that they see as the problem (as books such as Mining the sky demonstrate[178]); it is the sheer physical impracticality of shipping vast numbers of people into space to "solve" overpopulation on Earth that these authors and others regard as absurd. However, Gerard O'Neill's calculations show that the Earth could offload all new population growth with a launch services industry about the same size as the current airline industry in O'Neill, Gerard K. (1981). 2081: A Hopeful View of the Human Future. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-44751-3..

Effects of overpopulation
Some problems associated with or exacerbated by human overpopulation:

Inadequate fresh water[115] for drinking water use as well as sewage treatment and effluent discharge. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, use energy-expensive desalination to solve the problem of water shortages.[137][138] Depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels[139] Increased levels of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution. Once a country has industrialized and become wealthy, a combination of government regulation and technological innovation causes pollution to decline substantially, even as the population continues to grow.[140]

Deforestation and loss of ecosystems[141] that sustain global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide balance; about eight million hectares of forest are lost each year.[142] Changes in atmospheric composition and consequent global warming[143] [144] Irreversible loss of arable land and increases in desertification[145] Deforestation and desertification can be reversed by adopting property rights, and this policy is successful even while the human population continues to grow.[146] Mass species extinctions.[147] from reduced habitat in tropical forests due to slashand-burn techniques that sometimes are practiced by shifting cultivators, especially in countries with rapidly expanding rural populations; present extinction rates may be as high as 140,000 species lost per year.[148] As of 2007, the IUCN Red List lists a total of 698 animal species having gone extinct during recorded human history.[149] High infant and child mortality.[150] High rates of infant mortality are caused by poverty. Rich countries with high population densities have low rates of infant mortality. [5] Increased chance of the emergence of new epidemics and pandemics[151] For many environmental and social reasons, including overcrowded living conditions, malnutrition and inadequate, inaccessible, or non-existent health care, the poor are more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases.[152] Starvation, malnutrition[114] or poor diet with ill health and diet-deficiency diseases (e.g. rickets). However, rich countries with high population densities do not have famine.[153] Poverty coupled with inflation in some regions and a resulting low level of capital formation. Poverty and inflation are aggravated by bad government and bad economic policies. Many countries with high population densities have eliminated absolute poverty and keep their inflation rates very low.[120] Low life expectancy in countries with fastest growing populations[154] Unhygienic living conditions for many based upon water resource depletion, discharge of raw sewage[155] and solid waste disposal. However, this problem can be reduced with the adoption of sewers. For example, after Karachi, Pakistan installed sewers, its infant mortality rate fell substantially. [156] Elevated crime rate due to drug cartels and increased theft by people stealing resources to survive[157] Conflict over scarce resources and crowding, leading to increased levels of warfare[158]

[edit] Mitigation measures


While the current world trends are not indicative of any realistic solution to human overpopulation during the 21st century, there are several mitigation measures that have or can be applied to reduce the adverse impacts of overpopulation.

[edit] Birth control


See also: Criticism of the Roman Catholic Church#Opposition to contraception

Overpopulation is also related to issue of birth control, with some nations like China using strict measures in order to reduce birth rates, while religious and ideological opposition to birth control has been cited as a factor contributing to overpopulation and poverty.[159] There are an estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world who either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means and services to determine the size and spacing of their families. In the developing world, some 514,000 women die annually of complications from pregnancy and abortion. Additionally, 8 million infants die, many because of malnutrition or preventable diseases, especially from lack of access to clean drinking water.[160] In the United States, in 2001, almost half of pregnancies were unintended.[161] Many philosophers, including Thomas Malthus, have said at various times that when man doesn't check population-growth, nature takes its course. However, this course might not necessarily result in the death of humans through catastrophes; instead it might result in infertility. German scientists have reported that a virus called Adeno-associated virus might have a role in male infertility[162], though it's otherwise not harmful[163]. Consequently, if this or similar viruses mutate, they might cause infertility on a largescale, though otherwise not harming humans, thus resulting in human population-control over time naturally.

[edit] Other Implemented

Indira Gandhi, late Prime Minister of India, implemented a forced sterilization programme in the 1970s. Officially, men with two children or more had to submit to sterilization, but many unmarried young men, political opponents and ignorant men were also believed to have been sterilized. This program is still remembered and criticized in India, and is blamed for creating a wrong public aversion to family planning, which hampered Government programmes for decades.[164] As of June 2008, Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hatem el-Gabali announced that his country has set aside 480 million Egyptian pounds (about 90 million U.S. dollars) to cope with its overpopulation problem through family planning.[165]

[edit] Suggested

Some people argue about the futility of marriage, and propose "no-marriage", and, thus, "no-children" as a solution[166][167]. NoMarriage quotes: "most people end up having kids because 1) They are unknowledgeable regarding proper use of birth control and/or 2) They have an unrealistic vision of what parenthood entails."[168]

Others propose that governments around the world should stop spending funds on child-vaccination because children would and should survive naturally by principle of "survival of the fittest", rather than artificially through vaccination, and argue that humans survived even before the introduction of modern vaccination. They suggest that the funds saved from vaccination should instead be better spent on providing free-of-cost primary and higher education to everyone, particularly the meritorious but needy scholars and students. Alternatively, they argue that it was only the introduction of modern vaccination that led to the growth in world population from less than 1 billion people to more than 6 billion people in the 20th century only. They argue about the futility of saving children who are unable to get proper and higher education, thus, leading to unemployment because such uneducated children gradually become a burden on society as well as their nation as many of them resort to becoming criminals as well as inflating population.[citation needed] Some leaders and environmentalists (including Ted Turner) have suggested that there is an urgent need to strictly implement a China-like one-child policy globally by the United Nations, because this would help control and reduce population gradually and most successfully as is evidenced by the success and resultant economic-growth of China due to reduction of poverty in recent years[169] [170] . Because such a policy would be uniformly and unanimously implemented globally and would be implemented by a reputable central-global organization (United Nations), it would face little or no political and social opposition from individual countries. Huffington Post quotes: "There is a far better way -- and it is something we should be pursuing anyway. It is called feminism. Where women have control over their own bodies -- through contraception, abortion and general independence -- they choose not to be perpetually pregnant. The UN Fund For Population Activities has calculated that 350 million women in the poorest countries didn't want their last child, but didn't have the means to prevent it. We should be helping them by building a global anti-Vatican, distributing the pill and the words of Mary Wollstonecraft."[171] Another option is to focus on education about overpopulation, family planning, and birth control methods as well as to make birth-control devices like male/female condoms and pills easily available.

[edit] Extraterrestrial settlement In the 1970s, Gerard O'Neill suggested building space habitats that could support 30,000 times the carrying capacity of Earth using just the asteroid belt and that the solar system as a whole could sustain current population growth rates for a thousand years.[172] Marshall Savage (1992, 1994) has projected a population of five quintillion throughout the solar system by 3000, with the majority in the asteroid belt.[173] Arthur C. Clarke, a fervent supporter of Savage, argued that by 2057 there will be humans on the Moon,

Mars, Europa, Ganymede, Titan and in orbit around Venus, Neptune and Pluto.[174] Freeman Dyson (1999) favours the Kuiper belt as the future home of humanity, suggesting this could happen within a few centuries.[175] In Mining the Sky, John S. Lewis suggests that the resources of the solar system could support 10 quadrillion (10^16) people. K. Eric Drexler, famous inventor of the futuristic concept of Molecular Nanotechnology, has suggested in Engines of Creation that colonizing space will mean breaking the Malthusian limits to growth for the human species. Many authors (eg. Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke,[176] Isaac Asimov[177]) have argued that shipping the excess population into space is no solution to human overpopulation, saying that (Clarke, 1999) "the population battle must be fought or won here on Earth." It is not the lack of resources in space that they see as the problem (as books such as Mining the sky demonstrate[178]); it is the sheer physical impracticality of shipping vast numbers of people into space to "solve" overpopulation on Earth that these authors and others regard as absurd. However, Gerard O'Neill's calculations show that the Earth could offload all new population growth with a launch services industry about the same size as the current airline industry in O'Neill, Gerard K. (1981). 2081: A Hopeful View of the Human Future. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-44751-3..