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In early years, population outburst or rapidly growing society was not a massive issue. Our history is witness that when the human count increased, an epidemic for instance, smallpox, cholera, or yellow fever would break out. Epidemic Typhus, this devastating disease expanded easily in small and close quarters in the 1600s during the Thirty Years War in Europe and took over 10 million lives. This disease claimed a million more lives in Russia, Romania and Poland during World War I. These epidemics along with war and famine were enough to keep human population under control. At present, with advanced technology, science and awareness; possibilities of a disease outbreak and famine are almost ruled out. Also, considering the peace treaties followed by the Second World War, war is not considered as population control measure.
Overpopulation is an undesired condition where existing number of people in a particular area exceeds the desired value. There are about three to seven times excess occupants than our planet can support over an extended period. First part of this essay focuses on the few main reasons that result into overcrowding mainly declined mortality rate, better medication facilities, migration, technological advances and so on. Further, in this essay these causes are followed by their effects on the environment and some solutions to avoid a clogging situation in the future.
In the 18th century, the population count was below 800 million. Now merely 250 years later, we have crossed the count of 7.5 billion. One of the main reasons is the reduced mortality rate. At first this seems good news, but it has led to a situation where birth rate is outstripping the death rate by the ratio of two to one. Improved medical technologies and awareness namely vaccination, improvement of hygienic level and medication education has almost eradicated the diseases those were responsible for the scourge in the past. Discovery of antibiotics for example penicillin has saved thousands of lives and is a key reason in declining death rate.
In addition to this, improved fertility treatment has made it possible for more couples to conceive. Though it plays a minor role in comparison to other factors causing overpopulation, it has proved to be important as number of couples choosing this measure has risen since its inception. Moreover, poor use of contraceptives leads to unexpected pregnancies. As per the study of World Health Organization, even in developed countries like Great Britain 76% of women use not less than one contraceptive. The figure drops down to only 43% in poverty prone countries. We should understand that in an illiterate crowd, growing population is a psychological component. Families going through natural disaster, poverty need more hands to earn money for satisfying the family needs. Children of such families fall prey to child labour.
People in rural areas under adverse conditions choose immigration to the urban cities as an option in search of employment, better education, security or medical facilities. These immigrants end up contributing to ever-growing count of occupants which ultimately increases the demand for food, homes, energy and clothes. In 2017, 80 million international immigrants were hosted by Asia, followed by Europe and North America with 78 and 58 million immigrants respectively. In the same year the count went up to 258 million international immigrants representing 3.4% of total global population. This phenomenon leads to shortage of resources.
Efficient food production is the best and relatable example that exhibits how technical advances can turn into crisis. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predict that the global population will increase by 2.3 billion people till 2050. Although the rate of growth is slower than that of past 40 years, still there will be 30% more inhabitants than we can actually feed. This will ultimately hike the prices of food by almost 70%. More resources like land and water will be used to cope with the increasing demand. Deforestation of rainforest has taken place to make new farmlands available for farming. Planting large number of crops imbalances the natural nutrition level of soil, making it infertile for cultivation after a certain period.
In overcrowded areas there is a continuous pressure on resources primarily energy, food and water. These resources are used in unrestrained ways which leads to depletion of it. In developing countries, overpopulation results into fierce rivalries to control resources. Though we live on water planet, only 2.5% of total water is potable. The rest is either salty or polluted. Much of this consumable water is in ice form. Ultimately there is less than 1% of fresh water which is available for consumption. Due to increase in demand we are consuming the fresh water faster than our planet can replenish. Not just consumption of water and food but overuse of fuel and oil is also affecting their natural depositories.
Environment pollution is one of the biggest unfavourable circumstances caused by a rise in number of industries and vehicles. Flourishing industrialization not only pollutes the air but also water reservoir and land. With tired use of oil, coal and natural gas, rate of carbon dioxide emission is increasing tremendously. Changing climate patterns, melting of polar ice peaks, elevation in sea levels, loss of animal and plant species are direct consequences of emission of huge volume of greenhouse gases.
Two activities that are caused by overpopulation of humans are animal poaching which means illegal animal hunting and habitat destruction. Some animals have gone extinct because of destructive forces of nature and diseases but in last five decades many of the thirty species that have gone extinct are because of habitat destruction. The western black rhinoceros were proclaimed defunct in 2011 due to illegal hunting. We need to understand, that one day survival of human race will become impossible if the food chain is broken.
Other than environmental effects, overpopulation has several other drawbacks for instance wars and conflicts, rise in unemployment, high living cost and low life expectancy. With some measures these causes and effects can be minimized to some extent. Knowledge of sex education and creating awareness in public about family planning can play a vital role in declining the birth rate. Governments can propose some policies to bring birth rate under control.
Inhabitant aggravation is basically a result of combination of illiteracy, poverty, and lack of family planning. Improved medical technology has increased the average life span of human being resulting into low mortality rate. Along with these factors, immigrants exceed the threshold capacity of an area to satisfy the needs of its residents. The environment is affected on a great extent due to rise in global warming because of over use of fuel and oil. All the three basic kinds of pollution that is air, water and noise are observed in an overcrowded area. In long run, elevation in extinction rate of animal and plant species is predicted which will ultimately harm the diversity of our planet. But with some simple solutions we can protect our Mother Earth from the upcoming calamities caused by overpopulation. This change will come into action when practiced on a microeconomic level. Every house must share the responsibility to keep population under control and contribute towards making the world a better place to live in.