Friday, November 30, 2012


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If you are an Orang Utan, whose land is being taken over by humans, you may think that there are just too many people in the world.

The world's population has been growing rather rapidly in recent years and this has caused some problems.

The population of the United States is expected to increase by 44% from 2008 to 2050.[52]

Overpopulation - Wikipedia

The current population of the USA is 312.8 million people.

In a study entitled Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy, Professor David Pimentel, estimated the maximum U.S. population for a sustainable economy at 200 million. [73]

Sustainable economy?

We are thinking about traffic jams, air pollution, farmland concreted over, endless wars to seize valuable resources...

"The technological optimists are probably correct in claiming that overall world food production can be increased substantially over the next few decades...

"However, the environmental cost of what Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich describe as 'turning the Earth into a giant human feedlot' could be severe.

"A large expansion of agriculture to provide growing populations with improved diets is likely to lead to further deforestation, loss of speciessoil erosion, and pollution from pesticides and fertilizer runoff as farming intensifies and new land is brought into production."[117]

Overpopulation - Wikipedia

The fertility rate is going up. The best of all possible worlds? - The Economist...

The 'theory of demographic transition' held that, after the standard of living and life expectancy increase, family sizes and birth rates decline.

However, as new data has become available, it has been observed that after a certain level of development the fertility increases again.[66]

My friend Mardi was living in a village in West Java.

The surrounding area is fertile and good for growing rice.

But, as the population rose, there was no longer enough land for everyone.

Mardi could have moved his family to a remote part of the island of Kalimantan.

But he would have arrived in an area with poor soils and lots of hostile Dayaks.

Life would have been no easier.


Instead, Mardi moved his family to a heavily polluted slum in Jakarta, a city of 25 million people and heavy traffic jams..

The floods in the slum worsened each year, partly because so many trees in the region have been cut down and so much land has been concreted over.

Eventually the city authorities demolished the slum and Mardi had to return to his overcrowded village.
Mardi does use birth control and has only two children.

His sister has five children.

Worldwide, nearly 40% of pregnancies are unintended (some 80 million unintended pregnancies each year).[225]

One suggested solution is for population growth to be slowed quickly by investing heavily in female literacy and family planning services.[188]

Even very sparsely populated areas can be overpopulated if the area has a meager or non-existent capability to sustain life (e.g. a desert)

Overpopulation - Wikipedia

Estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet vary between 4 billion and 16 billion.

You will read below why the 16 billion figure is nonsense.

The population is expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040[7][8] and 2050.[9]

Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, has said, "Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be".[11]

The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth has stated that many environmental problems, such as pollution, are aggravated by the population expansion.[12]

Other problems associated with overpopulation include consumption of natural resources faster than the rate of regeneration.

A poor neighbourhood in Cairo.

The good news is that, in some parts of the world, the rate of population growth has been declining since the 1980s.

But, the world's population is still rising, even if not quite so fast.

And the 'theory of demographic transition' may have to be adjusted.

As new data has become available, it has been observed that after a certain level of development the fertility increases again.[66]

Some people who have become richer are now producing larger families!

Indonesia's population grew from 97 million in 1961 to 237.6 million in 2010,[38][39] a 145% increase in 49 years.

In India, the population grew from 361.1 million people in 1951 to just over 1.2 billion by 2011,[40][41] a 235% increase in 60 years.

The population of Chad grew from 6,279,921 in 1993 to 10,329,208 in 2009.[42]

According to the United Nations' World Population Prospects report:[49] the world population is currently growing by approximately 74 million people per year.

During 2005–2050, the net number of international migrants to more developed regions is projected to be 98 million.

Urban areas with at least one million inhabitants in 2006. 

If current trends continue, the world's urban population will double every 38 years, according to researchers. The UN forecasts that today's urban population of 3.2 billion will rise to nearly 5 billion by 2030, when three out of five people will live in cities.[55]

One billion people, one-sixth of the world's population, or one-third of urban population, now live in shanty towns,[57] which are seen as "breeding grounds" for social problems such as crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, poverty and unemployment.

In 2000, there were 18 megacities-conurbations such as Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, Mumbai, São Paulo and New York City – that have populations in excess of 10 million inhabitants. Greater Tokyo already has 35 million.[59]

Jakarta (24.9 million people), Dhaka (25 million), Karachi (26.5 million), Shanghai (27 million) and Mumbai (33 million).[60] Lagos 15 million.

Overpopulation - Wikipedia

United Nation's population projections by location

Does it help if women have more power?

One version of 'demographic transition' is proposed by anthropologist Virginia Abernethy in her book Population Politics.

She claims that population rises decrease primarily in nations where women enjoy a higher status (see Fertility-opportunity theory).

In strongly patriarchal nations, where she claims women enjoy few special rights, a high standard of living tends to result in population growth.

"Demographic entrapment" is an idea developed by Maurice King, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leeds.

He writes that that this phenomenon occurs when a country has a population larger than its carrying capacity, no possibility of migration, and exports too little to be able to import food. This will cause starvation.

He claims that for example many sub-Saharan nations are or will become stuck in demographic entrapment, instead of having a demographic transition.[67]

Overpopulation - Wikipedia

World energy consumption & predictions, 1970–2025.

Problems associated with over-population include:

Deforestation, loss of ecosystems, increased noise air and water pollution, soil exhaustion, desertification, antibiotic resistant diseases, increased crime, starvation...

India, 1972

"Virgin stocks of several metals appear inadequate to sustain the modern 'developed world' quality of life for all of Earth's people under contemporary technology".[115]

A study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called the Global Environment Outlook[125] "found that human consumption had far outstripped available resources. Each person on Earth now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the planet can supply."

Fresh water supplies, on which agriculture depends, are running low worldwide.[128][129]

"Desalinated water may be a solution for some water-stress regions, but not for places that are poor, deep in the interior of a continent, or at high elevation. Unfortunately, that includes some of the places with biggest water problems."[137]

Food per person increased during the 1961–2005 period.

Some scientists argue that there is enough food to support the world population,[143][144] but critics dispute this, particularly if sustainability is taken into account.[145]

However, the figures for 2007 show an actual increase in absolute numbers of undernourished people in the world, 923 million in 2007 versus 832 million in 1995.[149].

The more recent FAO estimates point to an even more dramatic increase, to 1.02 billion in 2009.[150]

The proportion of the world's population living on less than $1 per day has gone down, but the figures have not been adjusted for inflation, and are thus misleading.[204]

A working class American may now have a higher wage than in the 1980s, but he is not necessarily better off, because prices have risen.

Percentage of population suffering from malnutrition by country, according to United Nations statistics. Red = most malnourished. Green = least malnourished.

Food riots have recently taken place in many countries across the world.[166][167][168]

Growing populations, falling energy sources and food shortages will create the "perfect storm" by 2030, according to the UK government chief scientist.

He said food reserves are at a 50-year low but the world requires 50% more energy, food and water by 2030.[172][173]

The world will have to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned.[174]

In Africa, if current trends of soil degradation and population growth continue, the continent might be able to feed just 25% of its population by 2025, according to UNU's Ghana-based Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.[175]

In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of malnourished people grew to 203.5 million people in 2000–02 from 170.4 million 10 years earlier says The State of Food Insecurity in the World report.

In 2001, 46.4% of people in sub-Saharan Africa were living in extreme poverty.[176]


Recent data indicate China's grain production peaked in the mid 1990s, due to over-extraction of groundwater in the North China plain.[178]

Japan may face a food crisis, believes a senior government adviser.[179]

The water tables are falling in scores of countries (including Northern China, the US, and India).

Even with the over-pumping of its aquifers, China has developed a grain deficit.  Desalination is also considered a viable and effective solution to the problem of water shortages.[134][135]

After China and India, there is a second tier of smaller countries with large water deficits – Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, and Pakistan.

The World Resources Institute states that "Agriculture has displaced one-third of temperate and tropical forests and one-quarter of natural grasslands."[189][190]

"Usable land may become less useful through salinizationdeforestationdesertificationerosion, and urban sprawl."

The United Nations indicates that about 850 million people are malnourished or starving,[100] and 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.[82]

Some argue that the Earth may support 6 billion people, but, only if many live in misery.

The proportion of the world's population living on less than $1 per day has gone down, but the figures have not been adjusted for inflation, and are thus misleading.[204]

The UN Human Development Report of 1997 states: "During the last 15–20 years, in more than 100 developing countries... the reductions in standard of living have been deeper and more long-lasting than what was seen in the industrialised countries during the depression in the 1930s."

Wealth per capita graphed against fertility rate.

Environmental author Jeremy Rifkin has said that "our burgeoning population and urban way of life have been purchased at the expense of vast ecosystems and habitats. ... It's no accident that as we celebrate the urbanization of the world, we are quickly approaching another historic watershed: the disappearance of the wild."[208]

Says Peter Raven, in AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment, " During a remarkably short period of time, we have lost a quarter of the world's topsoil and a fifth of its agricultural land, altered the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, and destroyed a major proportion of our forests and other natural habitats without replacing them.

"Worst of all, we have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century."

The Worldwatch Institute said: The world's ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way [209]

It said that if China and India were to consume as much resources per capita as the United States or Japan in 2030 together they would require a full planet Earth to meet their needs.[210]

In the long term these effects can lead to increased conflict.

The last Bali 'big cat'.

Worldwide, nearly 40% of pregnancies are unintended (some 80 million unintended pregnancies each year).[225]

An estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means and services to determine the size and spacing of their families.

One option is to focus on education about overpopulation, family planning, and birth control methods, and to make birth-control devices like male/female condomspills and intrauterine devices easily available.



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