Overpopulation by 2050
Over the last half century the population of the world has exploded. At the time of writing this technical essay, there are 7.4 billion people on the planet and this number is projected to grow rapidly in a short period of time. This fact is known to be Overpopulation.
Overpopulation is an undesirable condition where the number of existing human population exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth. Of all of the environmental challenges facing the planet today, overpopulation is one that sometimes slips under the radar. Overpopulation is one of the most major issues occurring to this present day and yet issues like pollution, climate change and water shortages all seem to take precedence. But what is failed to see, is that overpopulation is one of the main contributors to all these environmental issues. Overpopulation is caused by a number of factors. Reduced mortality rate, better medical facilities, depletion of precious resources are just a few causes which results in overpopulation.
Here we will discuss the causes, the effects as well as provide some solutions to the problem at hand. Firstly the causes;
Causes of Overpopulation
Reduced Mortality Rates: –
Decline in the death rate is one of the main causes of overpopulation today. If the number of humans born equals the number of humans that die each year, then the population rate will stabilize. However, due to the modifications and improvements in medical technology, the mortality rates for many serious diseases has lowered. The result of these new enhancements shows that the rate of deaths is not equal to the rate of births, hence one aspect of overpopulation.
Better Medical Facilities: –
Today the health care system has definitely grew in terms of technology and betterment. Medical science made many discoveries thanks to which they were able to defeat a whole range of diseases. Illnesses that had claimed thousands of lives till now were cured because of the invention of vaccines.
Child Labour: –
For thousands of years, a very small part of the population had enough money to live in comfort. The rest faced poverty which would lead to them giving birth to larger families just so that they, in the near future, have more hands to help overcome their poverty state. These “extra hands” are known to be child labour or seeing your children as a source of income. As distressing as it may be to hear, child labour is still used extensively in many parts of the world and these children who begin to work at a young age loses the educational opportunities they should be granted, particularly when it comes to birth control and soon or later, these children will have children of their own.
Technological Advancement in Fertility Treatment: –
Though it only plays a minor role in comparison to the other causes of overpopulation, improved fertility treatments have made it possible for more people to have children. Couples who weren’t able to conceive to undergo fertility treatment methods and have their own babies. Today there are effective medicines which can increase the chances of conception which leads to a rise in the birth rate.
Lack of Family Planning: –
Most developing nations have large number of people who are illiterate in terms of new technology, live below the poverty line and have little or no knowledge about family planning. Getting their children married at an early age as well as practicing unsafe sex due to lack of knowledge, increase the chances of unexpected pregnancies and producing more kids.
Unchecked immigration into countries may lead to overpopulation to the point where those countries no longer have the required resources for their population. This is particularly problematic in countries where immigration numbers far exceed emigration numbers.
Next we proceed in the discussion of the effects.
Effects of Overpopulation
Depletion of Natural Resources: –
Most of the environmental damage being seen in the last fifty years is because of the growing number of people on the planet. The Earth can only produce a limited amount of water and food, which is falling short of the current needs.
Degradation of Environment: –
With the overuse of coal, oil and natural gas, it has started producing some serious effects on our environment. Rise in the number of vehicles and industries have badly affected the quality of air. Rise in amount of CO2 emissions leads to global warming. Melting of polar ice caps, changing climate patterns, rise in sea level are few of the consequences that we might have to face due to environment pollution.
Conflicts and Wars: –
Overpopulation in developing countries puts a major strain on the resources it should be utilizing for development. Conflicts over water are becoming a source of tension between countries, which could result in wars.
Rise in Unemployment: –
When a country becomes overpopulated, it gives rise to unemployment as there fewer jobs to support large number of people. Rise in unemployment gives rise to crime as people will steal various items to feed their family and provide them basic amenities of life.
And finally, we move on to some of the solutions.
Solutions to Overpopulation
Knowledge of Sex Education: –
Imparting sex education to young kids at elementary level should be must. Most parents feel shy in discussing such things with their kids which result in their children going out and look out for such information on internet or discuss it with their peers. Mostly, the information is incomplete which results in sexually active teenagers unaware of contraceptives and embarrassed to seek information about same. It is therefore important for parents and teachers to shed their old inhibitions and make their kids or students aware of solid sex education.
Making People Aware of Family Planning: –
As the population of this world is growing at a rapid pace, raising awareness among people regarding family planning and letting them know about serious after effects of overpopulation can help curb population growth. One of the best way is to let them know about various safe sex techniques is by knowledge on contraceptives methods available to them to avoid any unwanted pregnancy.
Tax Benefits or Concessions: –
Government of various countries might have to come with various policies related to tax exemptions to curb overpopulation. One of them might be to waive of certain part of income tax or lowering rates of income tax for those married couples who have single or two children. As we humans are more inclined towards money, this may produce some positive results.
In my opinion, engineering may not be able to solve this problem only because the Earth’s carrying capacity is approximately 4.4 billion people and presently there are approximately 7.4 billion people living on Earth; consequently the occurrence of overpopulation has already happened. So to answer to the question, “Can engineering solve overpopulation”, no it can’t. However engineering can definitely help in controlling it and implementing ways to prevent it from getting worse. There are different ways on finding and creating solutions to overpopulation, however, instead of looking at overpopulation as being the problem, engineers should change their point of view by switching focus from overpopulation being the problem to Earth’s natural resources being a problem. You see, there are very limited resources left on Earth in terms of survival, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing no one can do about it. Engineering is all about facing challenges and stepping up to the plate to overcome these obstacles by finding, creating and building different solution of it. Earth’s limited resources is just another problem, waiting to be dealt with. One of the most, if not the most important resource the Earth can offer us is water. Earth is made up of approximately 71% water, leaving the rest to be land. Out of all the water, 96.5% is made up of the oceans and sea (saline), while 3.5% is made up of fresh water. This fresh water is further broken down to 1.7% being permanently frozen as polar caps and the other 1.8 %( 1.7%-0.1%) being groundwater and surface water. For human survival, only fresh water is needed and from the previous statistics, humans are only limited to that 1.8%. However, engineers need to think outside the box here. Earth is made up of mostly water, yet water is the biggest limited resource. The 96.5% seawater is where humans need to be getting there water from and stop demanding water from that limited 1.8% groundwater. This can be achieved by a process called desalination.
Desalination is a process that takes away mineral components from saline water. More generally, desalination refers to the removal of salts and minerals from saline water. There are many desalination plants operating in the world today. These plants converts seawater to drinking water for people across the world. The only problem with this process is the high carbon emission. Once again, engineers solved a problem only to move on to face another problem. Now, my suggestion on this topic is Green Technology. To create or improve the desalination plants by means of using renewable energy to get the salt out of seawater or brackish aquifers at all scales, from small, local installations to megaprojects, while minimizing or eliminating the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Combining desalination facilities with carbon-free or low-carbon power sources such as solar, wind, tidal or nuclear power plants could make it possible to gain the benefits of clean, fresh water without the climate impact. If we as engineers can power a desalination plant by solar energy during the day and switch to wind and tidal energy at night, no carbon emission will be produced, thereby reducing the carbon footprint while still reaping the benefits of fresh water.
My way of contributing to this solution is by simply educating and spreading the word. Overpopulation is already upon us and if we don’t act now, our generation, our kids’ generation and any other future generations, will be no more. Life on earth as we know it, will not exist if something isn’t done today. My plan is simple, start, but start small. Educate oneself first before trying to spread the word. Surely after this essay, myself will be equipped enough to know and to realize how serious of a problem this really is. After informing oneself, one should begin by teaching their families and close ones. Then branch out to their workplaces and schools sharing and enlightening people and children about said topic. People should then go further to social media, creating pages and sharing knowledge, causes and effects and simple solutions on what they themselves can do to help.
Spread the word, not only on overpopulation and saving the environment, but also on Green Technology and the future of Green Engineering, so that the younger, fresher minds can learn from a young age how important it will mean to them. Implement Green Engineering as a mandatory, much needed subject to be taught in schools. By doing this, we will open the eyes of the future and innovative breakthroughs can be made by them in terms of solutions to many unanswered problems in the world today.
In conclusion, overpopulation is a major crisis that is occurring as we speak. If we don’t act today, it will lead to potential disasters if not, extinction. Depletion of natural resources, Starvation, Wars and of course, Climate Change will be some biggest challenges that humanity will have to face and face very soon. Despite this, there are little silver linings in the clouds in terms of education in schools, impacting knowledge on others via meeting, events, social medias, etc. Something must be done before it’s too late.
Humans need to start controlling the future, by teaching our future, about what will happen to their future, if something isn’t done soon.