The world is currently bedeviled by many challenges, which pose a great threat to human survival. One such problem is overpopulation that definitely has an adverse effect on countries and the available resources. Currently, the world population has reached 7 billions persons and it is expected to reach 9.2 billion by 2050 (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2007. p. 4). The problems that accompany overpopulation could be fatal if world leaders do not take decisive actions to control population growth. In most cases, the issue is addressed casually possibly because of a lack of knowledge on its repercussions or because leaders are not directly affected by overpopulation. This paper adopts the position that population growth, if left unabated, will outgrow the available resources and cause chaos as people strive for survival.
The Economic Dilemma of Choice
The economic dilemma revolves around the allocation of scarce resources (McEachern, 2009, p. 2). Even when population growth is stagnant, people are always confronted by a choice in allocating the resources at their hands. Indeed, new wants and needs continue to pop up every day. However, the factors required to meet these new wants and needs, from a supply point of view, are limited. This creates an even greater challenge when the debate shifts to the problem of overpopulation. Indeed, governments must take into account the opportunity cost of any undertaking because of this scenario (McEachern, 2009). Opportunity cost will be the benefit surrendered in fulfilling another need. Malthusian theory postulates that if population continues to grow unabated, the available resources will eventually be inadequate to meet the needs of the population (Fernando, 2011, p. 76). Further, the theory envisages that natural disasters like famine and disease as well as human inflicted wars will ultimately put a pressure on population growth (Rotering 2007, p. 147). Malthus argued that population increased geometrically, while resources can only grow in an arithmetical manner. This theory is practical since natural resources cannot expand to accommodate an ever-growing population. This is unlike Karl Marx theory which espoused exploitation of labor as the cause of inequality in society (Brym & Lie, 2009, p. 463). Malthus argument can be tested in practical terms. Marx believed that if labor was adequately remunerated, overpopulation could never be an issue. However, the postulation by Karl Marx is an academic one and does not take into consideration that factors of production like land do not expand. Therefore, uncontrolled population growth will result in a disaster, as resources will not be adequate to support humanity, even if they are employed efficiently.
Land and Water Resources
Land and water are the two critical factors in the production of goods and services. However, the rate of population growth in the world is so high that one may wonder the next home, other than the planet Earth. Population grows when the death rate is lower than the birth rate. Although labor is an important factor of production, there is an indirect proportionality between the high population (labor) and the available land and water resources. Primarily, the biggest population in the world uses land and water resources for food production, building of shelter and for recreational purposes. This increases the demand for more land to cater for the growing population of the world. More food is required to feed these people. There is no agriculture without land and water. Therefore, as the population increases, the demand for the two commodities also increases. There might seem to be a positive relationship between the two variables. However, one is fixed and cannot be increased. Therefore, the relationship is a negative one in the long-term and thus impossible to realize equilibrium in an economy.
Land is an appreciating commodity and this means that its value increases every day. The wealthy nations are now at a rash to buy arable lands from poor nations, especially those from Africa to meet their demands. This puts the poor man’s land at risk. It also disturbs demand and supply parameters in developing world, since they also needs these factors of production. However, rich nations buy land to enhance their food security and industrialization (Ohlig, 2005). The need to expand and build more industries has increased the demand for water and land globally. The already developed and the developing countries are expanding industrial capabilities. This requires more land. This is yet another threat since rich nations tend to go for land from the underdeveloped countries.
Water resources are also facing competition because of the need to meet industrial and agricultural requirements. On the other hand, waste products from the industries pose environmental concerns as well. Moreover, industrial activities increase the threat of water and air pollution (Portter, 2012). Industrial emissions have brought about global warming, which is also another threat to human life. This has caused the atmospheric temperatures to rise gradually. This has led to drastic change to world’s climate in terms of change in rain patterns and other associated effects. Overpopulation creates a vicious circle; the more people are born, the more is required to feed them. This means more industries to produce and more harm to the environment. To reduce this pressure, population growth should be controlled (Ohlig, 2005).
Urbanization is the process of people moving and living in towns than in rural areas. A country reaches urbanization level when more than half her total population lives in urban places. Urbanization is posing a big threat to developing countries since many people are going to towns to seek for employment and better living conditions. Governments need to cater for housing facilities, water, electricity, and sanitation. Any urban area will always have these facilities. Indeed, many people prefer town live because of the availability of these resources. The increased number of people moving to urban places calls for more facilities. Therefore, there is a need for the government of any country to invest more on these amenities to cater for the influx of people from the rural areas (Ohlig, 2005). Not all people in urban places enjoy the same facilities in terms of housing, water, electricity, and sanitation. There are those who live in slums and shanties. It the responsibility of any country to make sure that the living standards of such people is uplifted to at least the same level with others (Portter, 2012). These are very expensive processes and the governments require big sums of money to accomplish these maneuvers. Even if it were possible for a government to meet the expectations of its citizens, it would be a matter of time before people start haggling over space, water, and housing
Governments will use More Resources to Educate the Masses
The role articulated by any government in this regard is critical in finding solution to the rising population levels. China has adopted model of one child policy (Brym & Lie, 2009, p. 463). Although this can reduce phenomenal explosion of population in the country, overall trend show population is still on the rise. However, government impact, especially at the grassroots levels, should be a priority. A majority of people, especially in the Third World economic lack basic education. The lack of education is one assumption underlying population growth. Without education, a person is likely to experience poverty and this agrees with the theorem of “more hand, more money” (McEachern, 2009, p. 304).
More people require more resources (McEachern, 2009, p. 303). For instance, children require money for their education as well as basic medical care. If a family cannot guarantee these basic needs, then society and by extension the government, will be required to offset these costs. The government will be forced to forego development initiative to pursue social projects whose returns are virtually negative (McEachern, 2009). Poor people, engrossed by the desire to meet the basic needs of their families, put more pressure on the available resources. However, education can play a key role of enlightening the masses to be aware of the challenges of overpopulation. With education, people can work and take care of their families (McEachern, 2009, p. 397). This will eliminate the maxim of “more hands more money”
On the other hand, the government would commit more resources in educating people about the problems of overpopulation. In addition, more materials will be required in the educational programs. This means government programs will stall due to lack of funds if more money is channeled to educating the masses (Brym & Lie, 2009, p. 464). Governments are always confronted by budget constraints every year. Shifting priority to educating billions of people is a trigger to social unrest. This is because; cash-strapped sectors will start demanding more allocation of public funds. In the recent past, social unrest has been witnessed in many countries across the world because of the global financial crisis. The financial turmoil triggered shock waves that reverberated all over the world. As people lost jobs and businesses went down, citizens became desperate for solutions. Overpopulation can trigger a similar, but worse scenario, than was witnessed during the financial crisis (Portter, 2012).
In conclusion, global population is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, which should be a major concern to governments. It is projected that by 2050, world population will have reached nine billion. Over the years, birth rates have always exceeded death rates, which is one reason the population has continued to grow. Projected growth rates will put pressure on scare resources and people will have to fight for survival. The era of adequate food supply and enough space for agricultural and industrial productivity is soon ending. If world leaders do not take action to educate people on the need to plan their families, overpopulation will definitely put a lot of pressure on world resources. The coming era, will indeed, see only the survival for the fittest.
Brym, J. R. & Lie, J. 2009. Sociology: Your Compass for Anew World, Brief Edition: Enhanced Cengage Learning, New York.
Fernando, C.A. 2011. Business Environment. Dorling Kindersley, New Delhi.
McEachern, W. A. 2009. Microeconomics: A Contemporary Introduction. Cengage Learning, New York.
McEachern, W. A. 2011. Microeconomics: A Contemporary Introduction. Cengage Learning, New York.
Ohlig, C. P J. 2005. Integrated Land and Water Resources Management in History: Proceedings of the Special Session on History Springer, New York.
Portter, R. 2012. Urbanization and Planning in the Third World: Spatial Perceptions and Public Participation, Routledge, New York.
Rotering, M. F. 2007. Needs and Limits: A New Economics for Sustainable Well-being. Lulu.com, London.
Smith, D. D. 2012. Urbanization, Housing and the Development Process, Routledge, New York.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2007. World Population Prospects: the 2006 revision. United Nations Publication, New York.
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