Growth of the world’s population and associated problems
According to the United States Census Bureau (USCB) the population of the world has reached an estimated 7 billion in 2014. The growth rate peaked in 1960 and has been growing ever since. The number is expected to reach 9 – 10 billion by 2050. Asia is the most populated continent in the world surpassing Africa, Europe and America by approximately three billion. Antarctica is the least populated continent where most of its population is based in and around the polar science stations located there.
The numbers were pretty bleak prior to the 14th century. However due to industrialisation, improved technology and better healthcare the overall population seemed to grow thereafter. Diseases like small – pox, influenza and plague killed millions, taking a huge toll on the global population back in the middle ages. The agricultural and industrial revolutions however increased the life expectancy of individuals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Majority of the overall growth took place in the last century due to advances made in the fields of science, technology and healthcare. Nutrition and the quality of food produced around the world has been subjected to a lot of scrutiny too.
As of now China and India are the most populated countries in the world. Both countries have crossed the billion mark, China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion).
Problems associated with overpopulation:
Overpopulation usually occurs when the number of people in a group exceeds the carrying capacity of the area occupied by them. It puts a lot of pressure on the environment and its resources. This type of relationship with the environment or region is not sustainable. It usually occurs due to an increase in the birth – rate and decreasing death (mortality) rates. Environmental problems like global warming and pollution are also related to overpopulation. Extensive consumption or increased demand for resources like water, food and fuel would be inevitable. Starvation, malnutrition and poor quality of living would be additional problems associated with an expansion or increase in the overall population.
Deforestation due to an increasing demand for area would result in a loss of ecosystems and Mass species extinction. Levels of hygiene and the standard of living would deteriorate too. Due to the depletion of resources people would start fighting over whatever little there is resulting in increased warfare and frustration. Huge demands for food or sustenance met by intensive factory farming would result in the creation and spread of new viruses and resistant bacteria which would infect humans on a large scale. Poor countries with inadequate infrastructure, inadequate or non – existent healthcare and large populations would have increased susceptibility to epidemics and pandemics. The average life expectancy of individuals would also decrease in countries with huge growth rates. The area or region would not be able to cope with frequent bursts in the population. There’ll be a lot of pressure on fresh water supplies, resulting in a water crisis which would be unfavourable for agriculture too.