Overpopulation and Environmental Degradation
At the time of the agricultural revolution, nearly ten thousand years ago, the population of the globe was no more than ten million. Today the world population is estimated at over six billion. In the last hundred years the population has more than tripled. With the population rising at an enormous rate of 1.7 million a week, the world as a whole is being drained of its resources. (Southwick, 1996) Different theories have prevailed on what will occur as the population continues to explode ranging from the Malthusian apocalypse to absolutely no effects at all. Over the last two centuries as agricultural and technological advancements came about, the planet's overall carrying capacity increased dramatically. It is estimated that the world could support over twenty times its current population living at 120 per square meter in 2000-story buildings. (Dolan, 1974) Overpopulation not only adversely affects the "environment," or nature, but also has a large impact on human societies today.
Environmental degradation and population growth go hand in hand. As more people enter the world, there is a greater need for space, furthering damage to our surroundings. As populations grew in response to the agricultural revolution of ancient times more land was required for cultivation to feed the rising populations. Forests were cleared, waterways were diverted, and the soil exhausted, all a result of the expanding populace. Even today in parts of the world, especially third world countries, land is being cleared by slash and burn methods for grazing land and urban development. Whole species of organisms in areas like the Amazon rainforest have most likely been lost due to this method of deforestation. As areas are cleared in the way for future generations, land is becoming extremely scarce. It has been estimated that between 1 and 2 billion people could be supported on this planet in relative prosperity. The estimate comes from the availability of energy resources, agricultural land coupled with increased pollution control, recycling, and sustainability. (Southwick, 1996) The world today faces tremendous problems with poverty, disease, and famine as a result of the booming populations.
Overpopulation has greatly affected today's societies throughout the world. Certain countries, especially in the...