It was back in October 2011 when the UN officially declared that the World Population had reached the 7 billion mark. The supposedly benefits of the increase in human kind were reason enough for the UN to celebrate this newly achieved milestone. Even though the UN understood that the world population has almost tripled over the past 100 years, they do not see the need yet, to clarify causes and understand to which extent the world can sustain such a respective increase [1. UNFPA. (2011). State of World Population 2011. U.N.]. They rather put those arising concerns aside and focus on explicit issues such as – making life better. Procrastination can be fairly effective in times. am awesome!
There are two main problematic areas that result out of overpopulation; one being social and the other being environmentally originated [2. York, S. (2010). howmany. Retrieved 20 February 2014 from http://howmany.org/environmental_and_social_ills.php]. Especially when it comes to basic human needs, such as food and water, major difficulties in terms of supplying the population arise. The dramatic increase in populace is responsible for the current level of food and water demand. It was estimated that in order to maintain the meat supply in 2050, the amount of farm animals – 60 billion at this point in time – have to be almost doubled to 100 billion [3. Andras Forgac (2013). Leather and meat without killing animals. TED-Talk]. To upkeep such a large number of life stock, the physical capacity of farms must be enlarged significantly and the resources needed to feed the animals such as corn, grain and water, have to be increased to an unimaginable extent. As a result: Lack of natural resources and desertification of the land.
When it comes to the social needs of a developing society, education – in my humble perception – is a top priority because it determines the success of a nation on the long run with respect to economy, politics, technology and sustainability. If the standards of education are high, more products and services of value can be created to stimulate internal development and the external market position. However, if a country is already struggling with providing children with appropriate education – not only quantity but also quality wise – an increase in the population will only further the issue. This is especially true for India. With 1,24 billion inhabitants, India counts as the second largest nation in the world in terms of population. Even though its GDP is respectively high and amounts to a total of $ 4.962 trillion, unfortunately this number becomes less enjoyable when looking at the GDP per capita of $ 3.991 which places India as 133rd in the world ranking. Only 3.3 percent of the GDP is invested into education, arguably too low, since only a few fortunate children are able to attend the privately owned Universities because 29,8 percent of India is still living below the poverty line [4. C.I.A.Factbook. (2013). India. Retrieved 20. February 2014 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html].
It becomes clear that the increase in population is especially harmful to developing or underdeveloped countries, in which poverty leads to lack of prospects and evoke more problems than opportunities. The main cause for the issue at hand is the expected lifetime of elderly people versus the rate of newborns. Simply put: if more children are born in comparison to the ratio of people that die – the population is growing. The phenomena of longer life-time expectancy however, is caused by the scientific development of technology and health care. It sounds pretty depressing to argue that new technology and health standards help people to live longer but simultaneously triggers the misfortune to which we refer to as overpopulation.
Some argue that – purely hypothetical – if the world would accommodate five instead of seven billion people, things like unemployment, scarcity of food & water and other major world problems would suddenly vanish. We would live in a happy Utopia full of love and peace. But instead of waiting for this unlikely event to happen, I would rather suggest some other solutions.
Some European countries like, Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania, partly South Africa and especially Japan have negative population growth rates, strongly overpopulated countries like India could make immigration agreements. However, it is important to take into consideration that developed countries are often offering better job opportunities which would encourage well educated Indians to leave the country and endanger potential national development. [If you are interested in the other extreme – namely under-population in Japan – I would highly recommend the Blog of Christine Wester.]
Furthermore, policies could be implemented for birth control. This could turn out as being more problematic as it seems. India´s government has tried to enforce sterilization in the 1970´s in case a family has born a second child. It was strongly rejected by the population and is still a very sensible topic. Additionally, similar to China, India´s culture would prefer rather bearing a son than a daughter which would fuel the already existing quantitative imbalance between genders [5. Carl Gierstofer. (2013). Where Have India’s Females Gone? Retrieved 3 March 2014 from http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/asia-india-new-delhi-rape-women-sex-ratios-culture-sons-education].
Additionally, and also very importantly, sustainability should be newly defined. Rather than mainly taking into consideration the proper handling of the environment to ensure ecological balance, it should focus much more on responsible family planning. The world is already on the right track since women rights are getting increasingly stronger and the access to education gets easier. And as all men know – when it comes to family planning – we do not have much of a say. Restricting the freedom to bear children by sustainability policies however, is a moral dilemma which I do not dare to touch right now.
So, is 7 billion – a number to celebrate? The current situation only allows my disagreement. Because firstly, underpopulated countries should lessen the restriction on foreign workforce. By redistributing population to balance the populace density, people could get access to more opportunities in live and would not boost the already existing third world problems. Birth control could arguably be implemented but I strongly doubt its success and acceptance. I would rather suggest a second solution; responsible family planning could be further elaborated in the theory of sustainability. Education for women in underdeveloped countries has to be taken seriously, since women mostly take responsibility for family planning.