Monday, December 03, 2018

Overpopulation - A simplistic theory

Does our world now have more people than it can reasonably sustain? If current growth rates continue, will overpopulation be the cause of ever-increasing hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation? Will we run out of resources? And if the world is becoming overpopulated, what is the most wise, humane, and effective response by concerned governments and organizations? Alarmist visions of population growth continue to form conventional wisdom, despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

In most minds, the notions of “overcrowded” and “overcrowding” conjure images of hungry children, unchecked disease, squalid living conditions and teeming slums. Those problems are all too real in today’s world–but the proper name for those conditions is “poverty.” Wealthy Monaco is the most “overcrowded” country in the world, at 700 times the world average. India and Rwanda (each with over six times the world’s average population density) would surely qualify as “overcrowded.” But Belgium is considerably more “overcrowded” than Rwanda, and oil rich-Bahrain is three times as “overcrowded” as India. 

Our so-called "population explosion” was not due to people breeding like rabbits. Instead, it was because they finally stopped dying like flies. Over the 20th Century, average life expectancy doubled from around thirty years to over sixty years and infant mortality rates have declined substantially all over the world. With fewer people dying, populations increased, even though global fertility levels have been in decline since the 1960s. This “health explosion” caused the “population explosion”–and this dramatic, ongoing health surge is in large part due to unprecedented and extraordinary improvements in material living standards, particularly over the past few decades. Medical technology continues to improve.

 Furthermore, food production has steadily outstripped population growth, while practically all natural resources–ranging from copper to aluminum–have grown less scarce. We are not running out of food nor resources.

Yet there are those environmentalists who present overpopulation myths that should have died with Thomas Malthus.

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