It would be difficult to drive down any popular street in many major cities of the world without seeing some new development. It seems just about every farmer’s fields are growing smaller to make more room for supermarkets, fast food chains, or housing developments. It begs the question: how are we going to get the food to fill all these new supermarkets if the fields keep getting smaller? It seems we are running out of room on this planet of ours, and before we know it, we will be at maximum carrying capacity for the Earth. Oh maybe not this decade or the next, what about the next three or even two decades?
Probably one of the most serious environmental problems we face as humans is overpopulation. People are in the frame of mind that if we run out of room in one town, we can just simply spread out more. We can move people into areas that are less populated, and we can continue to reproduce and expand at an alarming rate. What most people don’t understand when they continue to build more stores and houses is that we are quickly running out of the natural resources necessary to sustain the population we have right now.
Fresh Water and Overpopulation
Fresh water is one of the biggest concerns with overpopulation, and this poses a huge environmental threat. The government sustains the rights to fresh water, whether it is from melting snow pack in the mountains or a freshwater lake. Different cities have what is known as “water rights” from a certain mountain area’s snowmelt, or certain freshwater lakes and streams. There are more people consuming water, however, than being replaced and the result is that we now have dried up lake beds which create dust particles. These dust particles are then polluting the environment and the air we breathe. So, not only is there not enough fresh water for the current population to drink, but the air is getting polluted with dust particles that contribute to health problems.
Another problem we face is the lack of biodiversity. As the population grows, there is more demand for certain plants: trees for paper, food, plant fibers for clothing, etc. We thought the solution was to simply re-plant whatever we consume. This has led to problems, however, in biodiversity. Because many of the plants and crops we sow are of the same age and genetic makeup, they are more susceptible to problems from disease and pests. Plants which may have had slightly different genetic makeup may have had a small impact on loss due to disease, but when they are all from the same genetic strain we face the issue of total annihilation of a particular crop. The greater the population, however, the greater the demand for certain crops, meaning less biodiversity.
For decades, many landfill managers have been emphasizing just how quickly they are running out of space. The more people there are on the planet, the more waste is being produced. Some of this waste is quite toxic, and even landfills which are double-lined are finding that some toxic substances are leaching into the soil and the groundwater supply. This poses even more of a risk to our freshwater supply, and can contribute to the decimation of many species sharing the earth today.
So we either wait for science to discover, create or work out how to solve these problems while we continue to self-destruct, or we take the matter into our own hands and make a significant impact where we can — by having fewer children and therefore reducing our numbers fast. But this is just a step out of the many steps that need to be taken.