Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How Do We Know if the World is Overpopulated

Agreeing on if the world is overpopulated or not is based on more than if we produce enough food for all the people on the planet. Indeed deciding if there are are too many humans is not just about the humans, but is about all other species as well as the earth itself.

For thousands of years the human population stayed pretty steady around 1 to 2 billion people, shooting up only recently with improvements to health care and industrialization. When the human population was lower we were still causing some impact on the planet but in no way as great as we are doing now that our human population numbers over 7 billion.

If you talk to somebody who is in their 50's or older they will probably tell you how they can remember farms in areas that are now built up and urbanized. Indeed the human population has more than doubled in the last 50 years and we have lost a lot of farm land as well as natural forests due to the growth rate. Farms have become more “efficient” at producing more food on less land, and typically this results in food that has less nutrition, but again food is not the focus...

The oceans all have gyres of human garbage, large pits and quarries destroy the landscapes in many areas. Deforestation has lead to landslides on many mountains. Toxic ponds of industrial waste pollute many areas. Giant mounds of human garbage occupy many acres of land worldwide. Thousands of species of animals have gone extinct in the past 200 years and yet some people still claim that the human population is not too high.

Studies done on rats and mice years ago by John B. Calhoun suggested that many social problems are the result of overpopulation. In his experiments the animals were cared for medically and were well fed but their population was allowed to grow. At a certain point the formerly social animals became anti-social, random acts of violence became common, and parenting skills declined drastically to the point that eventually the young animals did not survive.

Humans have long been known to be violent towards one and other but the acts of violence were rarely random as they are today. People walk down busy streets without making eye contact, they walk past those who are suffering (homeless) as though they did not exist. Compassion to our fellow man is being lost as we become more and more overpopulated.

This development (in Edmonton) used to be farm land, and prior to being farm land it was a forest.  How is this "better" than a forest?   How is this being in harmony with the planet?

Although some people have suggested a sustainable human population is 5 billion (and others have suggested 500 million) there is probably no definite number of what the maximum sustainable population is. In part it relates to how sustainable we chose to live our lives. Five billion people who live lives of excess are not nearly as sustainable as 5 billion people who live modestly (small homes, consuming only what they need, few luxuries).

Sadly it is impossible, therefore, to give an exact number at which the human population is considered to be overpopulated. Most certainly, due to our impact on the environment, and other species, we have surpassed that number. As long as we rely on non-renewable resources, and consume renewable ones up faster than they can be renewed, and as long as we displace, or destroy, other species, we are overpopulated.

No comments:

Post a Comment