Population Problems

The ever expanding human population is extremely detrimental to the environment. The more human feet on the ground the less plants and animals can flourish. Humans consume impressive amounts of the world’s resources. The way in which humans consume is even more impressive. The real effects of overpopulation were seen during the first industrial revolution. In this time people began to live in cities. People moved from farms to urbanized landscapes. As this migration began, the people began to work in factories. Big business was created and squished out the family owned small businesses. 

Overpopulation creates over consumption. Humans love their things, and when those things are increasingly more available for buyers the environment is sacrificed. Every item we buy whether it be an apple or a T-shirt uses a certain amount of natural capital. In the last two centuries humans have exploited what the earth has given us and now we are facing the consequences. Not only has the environment been affected but humans have too. According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.” This has been proven to cause significant damage to one’s mental health. Some studies even argue that the average person should only work 4 hours a day. It has been proven that 

The idea of a “plenitude economy” is one that decreases work time and increases time for the self. This time to yourself is important. With less to do in a work day humans consume less. They are also more incentivized to do more DIY projects which gives us an outlet for creativity and also helps the environment by becoming inventive with the goods that we already have. Big bustling cities carry the weight of millions of people who all need food, water, and their “things” too. With less of a rigorous schedule the noise pollution of traffic would dissipate. The people could be mindful in their eating rather than hustling to the closest McDonald’s. If a “plenitude economy” is created, the environment would be given the chance to breathe again. 

Why India Is Making Progress in Slowing Its Population Growth - Yale E360
Overpopulation in India

The world’s population is growing rapidly. The UN has estimated that in 2050 we should expect the world’s population to reach 10 billion people. This will create serious consequences for those who do not live in developed countries. Resources will run out and millions will suffer. Birth rates are higher in developing countries because women have less support/ access to contraceptives, families have many kids to help with making money for the family, and if women aren’t working it is more likely that she will bear more children. It is important for the world to enter a demographic where the average woman has 1.5 children in her lifetime. However the ethics behind this claim can be controversial. In China, because of its overpopulation crisis,  policy was put in place to force families to only have one child. This resulted in many families stripped of the rights to have children. Many girl babies were either aborted or set up for adoption because it was more economical to have a boy. This meant that 30 million Chinese men in 2015 are without a wife. 

Tampering with population demographics is tricky. An important question to ask is how much can the government step in to decrease overall population. Of course mass genocide is out of the picture, but if forced contraceptives’ meant that the carbon emissions decreased by 50% (hypothetically), would the ends justify the means? How far should humans go in saving the environment?