population and the effects on the enviorment

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The specific social problem that I would like to address is the environment, and how overpopulation has caused it to be abused beyond its limits. “The root cause of environmental degradation is worldwide population growth. In most developing countries, the rate of population growth is far exceeding the expansion of the food supply, and overcrowding is overwhelming the already inadequate sanitation and waste disposal systems. In the developed countries, a more moderate rate of population increase coupled with a disproportionate use of natural resources is causing severe pollution problems.” (Paul R. Ehrlich, page 4).

I believe that the above quote sums up the problem in a very clear manner. There are many environmental problems facing us today, but if we look closely at them, the one thing that we can rely on, that we can fall back on, is the fact that without overpopulation, many, if not all of these problems, would be non-existent.

The scope of overpopulation is worldwide. You will have a very difficult time finding anywhere in the world where evidence of overpopulation is not evident. Starvation, lower standard’s of living, and not a similar increase in resources available. When evaluating the scope of overpopulation we have to remember that overpopulation does not normally mean too many people for the area of a country, but too many people in relation to the necessities and amenities of life. “Overpopulation occurs when numbers threaten values.” (Ehrlich, pg. 6) If something is not done about this, we will see more and more of what already happens in many underdeveloped countries - famine, disease, and pestilence. Not to mention the total consumption of resources that, under ideal circumstances, would last forever.

To live off the interest, your million dollars would always be there in the bank. But let’s say you spend more than just the interest � say 100,000 a year. Now the million will only last you so long. More than 10 years because interest on the remaining money will build back up, but not enough to replenish completely. Now let’s say that this million dollars is actually the rain forests of Brazil. You can apply the exact same principal. How does this relate do you ask? China, for example, imports over 80% of it’s lumber, and increases in population in China therefore contribute the destruction of South American rainforests. (Miller, p. 147)

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Some of the factors that have created this problem deal mostly with rd World countries and their views on having larger families. These underdeveloped countries want to have larger families for a number of reasons (Curran & Renzetti p. 44)

1. Children’s wages contribute to the family’s economic well being.

. There is a high infant and child mortality.

. Boys are more valued than girls are; therefore parents need to make sure at least one son survives.

4. Parents expect to rely on their children to support them in old age.

5. In some developing countries, high fertility is encouraged.

6. There is little information about or access to birth control.

Other factors which influence the overpopulation problem are advances in technology, which have led to decreased infant mortality rates, decreased death rates from diseases and injuries, and longer life spans. For example, the average life expectancy of a person in China (which has the #1 life expectancy worldwide) is 7 years old! Back in the Middle Ages, the average life expectancy was about 40 years old!

A solution to this problem is not an easy one. The world’s population will continue to grow as long as the birth rate exceeds the death rate; it is as simple as that. When it stops growing or starts to shrink, it will mean that either the birth rate has gone down or the death rate has gone up or a combination of the two. Then, there are only two kinds of solutions to the population problems. One is a “birth rate solution”, in which we find ways to lower the birth rate. The other is a “death rate solution”, in which ways to raise the death rate � war, famine, pestilence � find us.

The second point is definitely not a solution that we want to examine. Would we intentionally start a war, or a plague to cure overpopulation? No. So when we think about lowering the birth rate, we have to think about strategies to do this. In China, the institution of the one-child family principal, which became national policy in 180, helped their growth rate plummet to 1.1%. However, such a policy, even with such added incentives such as tax breaks, bonuses, and increased food allowances, will not work in most other countries.

It will require educational programs, such as family planning, birth reduction, birth control, and family values, to stop the abundance of adolescent unplanned pregnancies and children being born.

Many resist this solution, although it is much more prevalent in underdeveloped countries. As I have outlined in the factors of the problem, and the reasons that some countries (rd World countries specifically) have more children, it will be difficult to change the whole way of life of these people, and how they view their family size. It is something that will be a slow and difficult education process.

It also used to be (although this isn’t so common anymore), that even here in the United States, many farms would want to have larger families to have children to help run the farm, and eventually take over, when the parents got older. I have personally done some genealogical research and have found that most farm families throughout the 1800 and 100’s would have 10 or 15 children because the farm was large enough to support them, and they could help run the farm. I guess that I point this out to say that it is not just the third World countries that have larger families, and that we have “evolved” from such a mind set. Now hopefully with education and assistance, more developed countries can make the point clear to other countries that they can also overcome these large family crutches outlined above and help the world end this overpopulation crisis.

I feel that the chances of this solution being fixed are slim. Maybe in some places, they will be highly successful, and they have definitely worked in China, but for the most part, for many underdeveloped countries, it is, and will continue to be a problem. The education and change in “large family” views is something that will be a difficult and an ongoing process. It is definitely something that I want to be involved in, and learn more about, and who knows, maybe in my lifetime, I will see a zero population growth, and a better economic status for all people in all countries.


AUTHOR Paul R. Ehrlich. Ed. Theodore D. Goldfarb.

TITLE “Too Many People.” Sources.

PUBLISHED Dushkin Publishing Group, 17

DESCRIPTION 5 pages, 18 chapters

SUBJECTS Notable selections in environmental studies

NOTES Index p. 46-5.

AUTHOR G. Tyler Miller, Jr.

TITLE Living In The Environment, Seventh Edition

PUBLISHED Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1

DESCRIPTION 705 pages, 6 Chapters

SUBJECTS An Introduction to Environmental Science

NOTES Appendix, Glossary, Index.

AUTHOR Paul Rauber

TITLE Sierra Magazine

PUBLISHED January/February 16 Issue

DESCRIPTION “An End to Evolution” The extinction lobby in congress is now deciding which species will live and which will die.

SUBJECTS An Environmental Awareness Magazine

AUTHOR Facing the Future; various authors.

TITLE Facing the Future People and the Planet

PUBLISHED version .0 uploaded October 17

DESCRIPTION Web site for educational purposes about world population.

SUBJECTS Views of population growth, and its problems.

NOTES non profit site at www.facingthefuture.com

AUTHOR Daniel J. Curran; Claire M. Renzetti

TITLE Social Problems, Society in Crisis

PUBLISHED A Simon & Schuster Co., Needham Heights, MA, 16

DESCRIPTION A study of Social Problems, 557 Pages

SUBJECTS Social Problems

NOTES Includes bibliographical references and index.

AUTHOR Kurt Finsterbusch, George McKenna

TITLE Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Controversial Social Issues, th Ed.

PUBLISHED Dushkin Publishing Group, 16

DESCRIPTION 0 Issues, Pages

SUBJECTS Clashing views on controversial social issues.

NOTES Includes bibliographical references and index.

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