There are too many people demanding too much from the earth! The world's human population is currently increasing by about 90 million people a year. All these new arrivals require food, energy, clean water, sanitation, clothing, housing, schooling, healthcare and employment. This, plus the waste and pollution they produce, puts a greater strain on the environment and squeezes other species into zoos and small areas of parkland.
The population is growing at a rate that cannot be sustained! We do not have the environmental resources to cope with the standard of living, which people in developed countries are accustomed to and which those in developing countries aspire to. We are currently increasing the world population at rates that are outstripping any reasonable expectation of maintaining, or improving, our requirements for living. The issue is not just about the number of people, but also how this number relates to the consumption of available resources.
In 1999 the world's human population was 6 billion. It is growing at a rate of 1.9% per year, in comparison with 0.8% per year prior to 1950. Between 1950 and 1987 it doubled from 2.5 to 5 billion. In 1950 there was an addition of 50 million people per year to the world. In 1975 this had increased to 72 million and by 1992 it had further increased to 93 million people per year. For perspective, this means the combined populations of the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Greece are added to the global population each year; 386,921 people each day or 269 people every minute! The United Nation estimates that in 2050, the world population could range from 7.9 to 10.9 billion, depending on the actions we take today.
The poorest countries have the fastest growth rates with over 90% of population growth occurring in developing countries. This will result in a massive shift in the geo-political balance. Developed countries which made up one third of the world population in 1950, now constitute less than a quarter and will dwindle down to only 13% by the year 2100.
Increasing population is partially caused by people living longer due to improved food, health care and sanitation. Over the past 30 years life expectancy has increased by 30 years in East Asia and 15 years in Africa. However, family planning is not accessible to between 300 and 400 million couples.
In the developed world, increasing populations are growing at a slower rate than in previous decades. Between 1950 and 1990, the population increased by 43%, compared with 150% in developing countries. AIDS has not had a significant impact on population growth.
Population growth results in:
1. Poverty - Countries have to spend more of their resources on importing food.
2. Unemployment - More people have to compete for jobs and there is a fall in wages.
3. Environmental destruction - Each year an area the size of Austria and Belgium combined is cleared for new farms, and huge areas are being turned into deserts because of over-use by people and grazing animals. Even the most sustainable methods of land management are unable to cope with the demands of an ever growing population. The number of people living in countries where cultivated land is critically scarce is projected to increase to between 600 and 986 million in 2025. Today over 1.8 billion people live in countries with critically low levels of forest cover. By 2025 this could nearly double to 3 billion.
Today over 1.8 billion people live in countries with of critically low levels of forest cover. By 2025 this could nearly double to 3 billion.
Currently, 434 million people face either water stress or scarcity of water. Depending on future rates of population growth, between 2.6 and 3.1 billion people may be living in either water-scarce or water-stressed conditions by 2025.
Most of the world's ocean fisheries are already being fished to their maximum capacities or are in decline.
4. Mass migration to cities - This results in social disintegration, rapid growth of unhygienic slums, other environmental issues and health problems.
5. Migration to other countries - This results in a loss of skilled labour from the countries they leave. The wealth gap between developed and developing countries is at the root of the problem.
Between 1980 and 1992, Europe received 15 million migrants, mostly for permanent settlement. Oil producing countries have received migrant labour from Asia since the 1960s. The driving force is economics. Remittances from overseas workers amount to US$100 billion a year. A burden often falls on the people who stay behind, who are usually women.
What you can do
Do not have children. Adopt a child if one is available. If you must have a child, limit it to one and invest quality time in that child.
Support gentle strategies for slowing world population; such as financial incentives and education to modify cultural patterns, especially in the use of contraceptives.
Join groups working towards creating a sustainable world population.
Use our lobbying service to write a letter or email your government and ask them to take action against overpopulation.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about your concerns.