Many people will read the title of this post and immediately shout YES! Others will read it and immediately shout NO! It is an interesting question that inspires powerful and quick responses, usually. I haven’t conducted any survey’s with experimental design, but I’ve had a lot of discussions with people and have seen decent amount of coverage of the topic on television programs to assume my statement is accurate. I’m speaking in generalities anyway (speaking being used generally in this very sentence). After reading an article from a blogger whose writing I enjoy, I decided to write about this spin-off topic for myself. For my own increased understanding of the topic (I’ll admit to being one of the folks who immediately shout NO! in response to the title question) I will present arguments for and against this debate, and then sum up with my personal point of view. Or try to at least.
Overpopulation is a threat to the Earth
It’s an older article, but this one from The Independent suggests that climate change is directly linked to human population increases over the past 50 years or so. It isn’t necessarily the actual emissions from human beings that threatens the atmosphere and influences changes in climate, but the use of fossil fuel energy for each individual. Along with the emissions problems from using fossil fuels is environmental pollution in general, which increases along with the population, although it doesn’t have to. More people means more resources used and more pollution created.
Dr. Albert Bartlett of the University of Colorado at Boulder cites political correctness as the reason why overpopulation isn’t talked about more. Bartlett suggests there is nothing, no aspect of life, that would get better with increased population. All that follows an ever larger population is fewer and fewer resources such as food and fuel, and more and more pollution and green-house gases hurting the atmosphere.
Finally, a video presentation on the matter:
Wow. Bitter? Do you hate being a human? I digress.
If the production of people outgrows the production of people-supporting resources then it follows that people will die in large scale due to famine and a damaged environment, or war and human-imposed control over resources. So if we believe that we are facing a population problem, how do we fix it? Is there a way to determine the maximum occupancy rating for the planet? Are we currently exceeding the safety limits? Someone ask a firefighter.
Overpopulation is not a threat to the Earth
Well, obviously this is a difficult subject to discuss because there really isn’t any empirical evidence, at least not any that everyone will agree to. One side argues that too many people means not enough resources, while the other argues that there are far more resources available than needed, people just don’t have access to them. And even that gets support from both sides, but for different reasons. For a more entertaining (in my opinion) presentation of this side of the argument, I offer another embedded video:
From Forbes.com, the problem isn’t too many people, but not enough people instead. This article suggests that we don’t face a problem of too many people, but that the balance between people who produce and people who don’t is getting out of whack. As the population ages and leaves the workforce, there needs to be an adequate number of younger people to replace them in the workforce. We aren’t seeing that happening. Check the birth rate per woman, it doesn’t quite match up to the sustainable need of 2.1 children per woman (one boy to replace dad, one girl to replace mom).
As reported here by the Huffington Post (it was just the first link that came up in Google with the necessary statistic) the average age of farmers is approaching 60-years-old. The implication here is that the folks producing the food for the rest of us are about to retire without an adequate labor force ready to replace them.
So is the problem really that there are too many people and not enough resources, or that there are plenty of resources but not enough good will, desire to work and effort to get those resources to more people?
The Earth is adequately large and stocked to sustain as much life as we can throw at it. Where do I get my evidence to support this? God. He said so through revelation. I accept that you might not readily accept that, we are each free to believe as we choose. But this is my opinion, and I say that God has given the Earth to be inhabited by his children, all of us, and so long as we act responsibly there will be enough resources for however many billions of us there are at any time. Overpopulation is not a problem unless we make it one.
We can’t take the environment for granted, it sustains us. God has given us the Earth to provide a place wherein we can live and learn all that we need to. Part of our responsibility is to take care of this precious gift he has given us. All creation is God’s, will we disrespect his creations? Well, we do, often, but we probably shouldn’t. I don’t believe there will be a time when we will destroy the planet, not until God’s purposes are accomplished. This means that we don’t have to freak out over climate change or population numbers. All we need to do is make better use of what we have. Use our combined intelligence and creativity to find alternate methods of living and obtaining resources. But more importantly, we need to unite as a human population and develop charity and love for one another. That’s my answer to everything: unity, charity, love. It’ll work, but it requires humility and meekness.
I don’t think overpopulation is a real threat. The same problems will exist no matter how many people are around. This is because the problems we face the most don’t come from external sources. The problems we face are internal. The purpose of life is to overcome those internal problems. When we fix that we fix the rest. But that’s just my opinion.