It is estimated that we are currently more than 7.6 billion souls on Earth and we should expect another two billion by 2050 according to UN projections. What are the impacts of overpopulation on the environment and global resources?
Today, there are more than 7.6 billion people on Earth (latest revision of the UN report, June 2017). According to the latest projections, there will be 9.8 billion of us in 2050 and 11.2 billion ni 2100. These projections can be explained by population explosion in emerging countries and increased life expectancy in developed countries.
Global overpopulation and water resources
Water is the Earth’s most precious resource: global overpopulation could lead to widespread conflicts over the blue gold. There are already clashes, as water is a major cause of tension in the Middle East and East Africa. A global conflict over water would therefore have catastrophic consequences. Currently, 80 countries lack water and one in five do not have access to clean water. However, there are solutions to this shortage, such as seawater desalination, which is still expensive.
Global freshwater consumption is estimated to have increased by about 1% per year between 1987 and 2015. Many regions are reaching the limits of their supply. As the world’s population grows, freshwater flows cannot keep up.
According to UNESCO, “water scarcity and access problems threaten to limit economic growth.” Most importantly, nearly 700 million people still lack access to clean, safe water, and 2 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.
The effects include disease, malnutrition, and crop failure. In addition, overuse of water has led to environmental degradation that costs billions.
Global overpopulation and food
Today, the most developed countries have enough resources to feed the entire world population. However, not everyone on the planet has enough to eat because food is unevenly distributed. One of the consequences of global overpopulation would be the exacerbation of these inequalities which could lead to famine.
Global overpopulation and pollution
Global pollution is not directly related to global overpopulation. The most developed countries pollute the most, but they also have the lowest birth rates. An American pollutes 91 times more than a Bangladeshi for example. But if the growth of emerging countries continues and developed countries do not curb the pollution they cause, global overpopulation will have catastrophic consequences for the planet’s environment.
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