The Need for Population Control: Scare Tactic or Reality?

Overpopulation is undoubtedly an undesirable scenario and it occurs when the number of living human beings exceeds the Earth’s capacity of sustaining them. However, is it factually correct to talk about overpopulation in this day and age, or are we hiding behind misrepresented statistics to employ population control tactics?

Over the years, various factors contributed to global population, such as better medical facilities and access which led to a reduced mortality rate. But overpopulation supporters ignore many other factors that come into play. Today, we take a look at the potential dangers of overpopulation and talk about the reality of it

Overpopulation Is an Old Story

People believed that an overpopulation crisis would occur about a hundred years ago. However, it didn’t, which begs the question: What are the reasons we think it will happen in 2050? (According to the latest estimates, the worldwide population will reach 9 billion by 2050 and Earth will be unable to support it.)

In reality, overpopulation is not the cause of famines and other economic disasters that might occur. They’re caused by the fact that many Third World countries do not have a social safety net in place to handle such problems; other nations simply cannot afford it.

In this context, shining the spotlight on overpopulation just encourages people to dismiss real problems, such as world hunger and extreme poverty. In fact, we could abolish world hunger by the end of next year if wealthier nations combined their efforts and agreed to it.

Arguments in Favor of Population Control

In order to reach a sensible conclusion, we must understand both sides: the people who believe we are heading toward overpopulation, and those who believe this is just a scare tactic.

Decline in death rate will result in overpopulation.

At the root of the overpopulation theory lays the claim that the balance between the overall birth rate and death rate has been permanently disturbed. Only when the number of children born each year equals the number of adults that die will the population stabilize. Many factors are involved in the decrease of death rate over the centuries, including the industrial revolution, scientific advancement, and better access to medical facilities.

Industry development. Better food production. More efficient medicine.

They are most often mentioned to support the concept of overpopulation. The industrial revolution provided humanity with incredible technological advancement. Science taught us better ways of producing food, which enabled families to feed more mouths. Medical science made many discoveries and defeated a wide range of diseases. The invention of vaccines eradicated illnesses that had claimed thousands of lives.

Lack of education and family planning

In most developing nations, a large number of people are illiterate, struggle to survive in poverty, and have little or no knowledge about family planning. In addition, child marriages contribute to higher chances of a family producing more kids. As these people rarely benefit of sex education and family planning measures, they continue to multiply recklessly.

If you want to learn more about the arguments people use in favor of population control, take a look at this entertaining and informing video series.

Arguments against Population Control

Now that we’ve seen what overpopulation supporters believe, let’s talk about the reverse of the coin. What if population control is not necessary?

Confusing overcrowding with overpopulation

Many cities may be overcrowded, but the world is not. Many people prefer to immigrate to developed countries like the U.S., the UK, Canada or Australia. Moreover, seeing that large cities offer better facilities in terms of medical, education, security and employment, it’s only natural that overcrowding will occur. This phenomenon should not be mistaken for overpopulation, because the overall population remains the same.

False assumption that poverty would decrease with fewer people

As we said before, people often blame overpopulation as the cause of poverty and world hunger. However, we should also consider the possibility that disproportionate distribution of wealth around the globe could also contribute to extreme poverty and hunger. It would be wrong to claim that fewer people would mean the end of poverty.

Population control will lead to aging work-force

Just look at the situation in Japan. Experts believe that the problem of the shrinking population makes the looming demographic crisis virtually impossible to avert. Moreover, the issues that Japan faces will undoubtedly reach China at some point. Considering population control also means underestimating the need for labor.

False threat of looming resource crunch

Evidently, the larger the population, the bigger the strain on Earth’s resources. However, we must not forget about scientific advancements which allow us to harness more renewable resources. Each year, more people and countries turn to solar or wind energy as the answer to protecting the Earth.

Going Back to the Root of the Problem

In other words, overpopulation does not seem to be as much a threat now. There are some initiatives, however, that could help us avoid the need to employ population control measures in the future. No woman should be pressured on the matter of reproduction. Thankfully, other strategies could help put human population on the sustainable path.

Guaranteeing secondary school education for all

This could help girls in particular. In all the cultures surveyed to date, women who have completed at least secondary school will make wiser family planning decisions. Statistics show they have fewer children on average than women with less education.

Providing access to safe contraceptive options for both sexes

Currently, almost two in 5 pregnancies are reported as unwanted or mistimed. Guaranteeing easy access to efficient family planning services can make all the difference in making sure that each baby is wanted and welcomed by its parents.

Offering age-appropriate sex-ed for all students

Data from the U.S. shows that exposure to useful programs that detail puberty, intercourse, options of birth control and abstinence – as well as respecting the sexual rights and decisions of individuals – can help lower the rate of unwanted pregnancies.

Eliminating gender bias from society

This long-term strategy is already at the forefront of today’s global efforts. Women who can own and manage property, obtain credit, and participate in civic and political affairs on equal terms with men are more likely to make sensible choices about childbearing. They are also more likely to have fewer pregnancies compared to women deprived of these human rights.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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