A Brief History
On July 11, 1987, the human population of the Earth hit 5 billion, known appropriately as “5 Billion Day.” Since then, July 11 each year is celebrated as “World Population Day” in an effort to raise awareness about global population issues. Today, there are about 7.2 billion people alive on Earth. Estimates for 2050 vary, but are in the area of 10 billion or so. That is too many people! Here we list 10 reasons we think there are too many people in the world.
Update, July 11, 2019: In the summer of 2019, Weather.Com and other sources reported that India, the second most populous country in the world, is running out of available fresh water, both in reservoirs and in ground water sources. Over 100 million Indians are currently experiencing a water crisis and unless the rains come soon and in quantity, many millions more may suffer similar consequences. Clean water usable for drinking, cooking, washing clothes and kitchen utensils and personal hygiene is being transported to distribution centers where people wait for hours for their meager water ration. the crisis about clean water in India and other countries is expected to get worse, both because of climate change and overpopulation.
10. Parking Space.
Have you ever tried to find a parking spot in Honolulu? How about New York City or Washington, DC? Even all the handicap spots seem to be taken. More people means it can only get worse.
9. Crowded Roads.
More people, more cars. It is that simple. As we try to accommodate the ever increasing number of cars by making roads wider, building more roads, and more parking lots. Pretty soon so much land is under concrete or blacktop that the water runs off instead of soaking into the ground replenishing the ground water. Artificial diversion of natural water flow also creates more floods.
In the old days, disease such as Plague, Typhoid fever, and Cholera were spread largely due to the close proximity of other people. The more spread out people are, the less likely we are to suffer disease such as tuberculosis or a pandemic of global catastrophic proportions. Having so many people, so mobile, creates the right environment for a new strain of a disease to rapidly spread all over the world.
7. Bio-engineered Crops.
Making crops uniform creates the opportunity for a catastrophic blight to starve millions of people. Also, making those crops resistant to pesticides means they end up assimilating those pesticides and we end up eating them. Pressure to produce ever bigger crops is driving farmers to decrease diversity which is a dangerous thing.
6. Wildlife Habitat.
As masses of people spread across the landscape, building their roads, buildings, and golf courses, wildlife loses more and more of its natural habitat. In Africa the vast stretches of land necessary for large animals to make their migrations are being sectioned off by fences and human habitations. Large predators such as bears and tigers become intolerable in close proximity to humans, and the loss of their prey animals means they disappear as well.
(see #4) As more people eat more fish, the oceans are being stripped of what once seemed like an endless bounty. Just as the Atlantic Cod fishery was devastated by over fishing, other desirable fish will also become scarce. Heck, we almost drove the great whales to extinction just hunting them for whale oil. If you think the oceans cannot be fished almost bare, guess again. Fish farming might seem like an answer, but there are major environmental concerns about the pollution produced from that as well.
More people, less room for farms, less room for animal husbandry and greater reliance on grains to feed the world. If you are a vegan that might be OK for you, but for the rest of us, not so good.
We keep cutting down the rainforests to provide those hardwood floors people love, thereby eliminating a huge source of oxygen production. Every building, every road, every parking lot, every golf course (anywhere where grass replaces trees), and anywhere forests are cleared (even farms) we lose oxygen production because trees are much better at converting oxygen for our air than grass or cement. Plus, our water pollution threatens the enormous kelp beds that provide massive amounts of the Earth’s oxygen production as well.
From the blob of floating plastic in the Pacific the size of a state to the smog over Beijing, the more people, the more waste we generate. Not only do land fills leach toxic stuff into the environment, but coastal cities still send barges into the ocean to dump tons of garbage every day (and not that far from shore, either). For all those who are proponents of nuclear power as our energy answer, we still have not decided on a permanent place and method to store nuclear waste, either. Our fish have PCB’s, DDT and Mercury in them, our water has massive algae blooms and bacterial blooms from phosphates and nitrates, and our water is loaded with hormones and antibiotics that pass through human digestive systems. The more people, the more pollution, more sewage, and longer lines at Walmart.
1. Climate Change.
Only about 98% of scientists are convinced climate change is caused by human activity, so why worry? Melting glaciers, rising sea level, floods in some areas and droughts in others will make life pretty hard for people if this continues, and remember, the pace is accelerating so what seems slow now may be much quicker soon. Burning fossil fuels is a prime source of global warming, and the more people there are, the more fossil fuels we burn.
Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think? The more the merrier? Should laws be enacted to limit population growth? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Angus, Ian, Simon Butler, et al. Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis. Haymarket Books, 2011.