The human population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. It is 7.3 billion now. Experts agree the maximum our planet can sustain is 10 billion. So can we come up with overpopulation solutions ourselves before it’s too late?
Many factors contribute to this. Better healthcare, better food, housing, better workplace safety practices, etc. This number is growing every decade. In fact, the number of people over 60 should double by 2050.
By 2100 this figure it will have tripled. This is just one reason we need overpopulation solutions. At the other end of the scale, in some countries, the younger population are thriving. In Africa, for example, the population is expected to double by 2050.
But, crucially, younger people are reaching adulthood themselves. They will start to have their own children. This will push up the population numbers even more.
The number of new-born deaths is decreasing. Over one million babies die on their first day of life. However, thanks to modern technology and better medical care we now have a better chance of surviving our births.
Mortality deaths for under-fives fell by 30% in many countries, and some even reached 50%. We also have a better life expectancy once we are born. You can add an average of at least 6 years to your life that perhaps your parents would not have enjoyed.
“The power of population is so superior to the power of the Earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” 18th-century philosopher Thomas Malthus
So what overpopulation solutions can help control the rise of our population?
Well, unlike 18th-century philosopher Thomas Malthus, we are not suggesting everyone dies a premature death. But it is a tricky subject. Not least because you are talking about the fertility rights of people, but there are religious and cultural implications as well.
Robert Engelman is a Senior Fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group based in Washington, D.C. he has written extensively on ending the rise of the human population and believes there are several key factors to achieving this. Many revolve around women’s rights.
“Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so,” Robert Engelman writes.
Key Factors for overpopulation solutions
1. Equal rights for women
In countries where women have the same rights as men, they are less likely to have as many children as women who do not have these rights. When women own their property, are financially independent, work outside the home, engage in politics and civil matters, they are more likely to have fewer children and later on in life.
2. Guarantee secondary school education for everyone, but especially girls
Studies show that when girls are not educated to a certain standard, they have fewer life opportunities and tend to have more children. Those that are educated to secondary school level have fewer children but also have them later on in life.
3. Universal access to safe contraceptives for both sexes
You cannot try and reduce the human population if men and women do not have birth control in the first place. Research shows that nearly 2 in 5 pregnancies are unplanned or not wanted. By providing safe circumstances with options for potential parents, every child born would be wanted by its parents.
4. Make sex education available in schools for all students
There is compelling evidence to suggest that sex education at age-appropriate years actually reduced the number of unwanted pregnancies. But not only teaching the basics of birth control, where to access it, but also respecting other people’s bodies and the right to say no.
5. Stop rewarding parents for having more children
Before April 2017, the UK government would pay child benefit for every child you had. Now after this period you only get the benefit for two children, unless there are special circumstances. Of course, the most famous example of population control is China’s one-child policy.
Engelman states that it is crucial to implement these factors as soon as possible. Only then we can stop the rise of the human population. He argues the global number would peak but then start to fall.
However, there are other experts that disagree with him. For instance, global estimates show that fertility rates are, indeed, falling. In fact, the fertility rate is now reaching the ‘replacement level’. This is the number by which children replace their parents but also make up for those that die young.
If this continues then our population will even out between the magic 9-10 million figure. This is all speculation of course. What we do know is that if we carry on as we are, the future does not look bright for our children, or our children’s children.
“Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth.” – World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity