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Essay/Term paper: Population overgrowth

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Sociology Essays

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Image this: One day, you wake up and 240,000 more people are living in your mansion. It is a big mansion with normally ample supplies to sustain your lifestyle. However, with 240,000 more people inhabiting that same area, it has become cramped and small. The next day, 240,000 people more come to live with you. This happens everyday for many years, soon supplies start to stretch thin and space starts to be a rarity. Unfortunately, this is not fiction. It is reality. Everyday, 240,000 babies are born around the world, according to United Nations" Population Fund (UNFPA). This figure works out to be about 12,000,000 people over the next 50 years, if the growth stays, steady. However, as stated by World Population Profile: 1998, the population of our plant will reach 9.6 billion people by 2050, a discouraging number. That should frighten every citizen of earth, because the enormous population will affect every person. Unless, people understand the causes and the problems they create.
Experts list various reasons that the population has boomed. One is a desire for large families. Experts estimate that twenty percent of the projected growth over the next fifty years- or 660 million people- will come from families that may have access to family planning services but choose to have more than two children. Another reason that the population is growing at a rapid pace is that family planning services are not available to all people. Many governments ban or restrict valuable methods of contraception. In Japan, regulations discourage the use of birth control pills and encourage the use of condoms. However, condoms prove to be only 90-98% effective under the best circumstances, while, if taken correctly, the pill is 99.67% effective against unplanned pregnancy (""NO" and Other Methods of Birth Control" back of pamphlet) This is at least a 1% difference. Therefore, one woman out of one hundred using condoms will get pregnant. That would mean 647,200 women would conceive children if every person in Japan had sexual intercourse and relied on condoms alone. (Basing the statistic on a census taken in 1999 by Age Group and Sex Statistics Bureau, which cited 64,720,000 women in Japan.) World Watch reports that a 1989 study found that in sixty countries, the wife must have her husband"s permission to be sterilized or receive contraceptives. This law hinders the woman from protecting herself against unwanted pregnancy, and increases she chances of becoming pregnant. Another reason that contraceptives are not readily available is sparse availability in rural areas that lack clinics and pharmacies; therefore, to purchase contraceptives a woman must travel a great distance. Face-to-Face Campaign reports that 120 to 150 million women who want to limit or space their pregnancies are still without the means to do so effectively, a surprising statistic for the twenty-first century. In addition, often the contraceptives are either too expensive, or poor quality and ineffective or dangerous. In 1990, when officials increased in price of controceptives sixty percent, the regularly increasing sales dropped significantly, twenty-nine percent in condoms, twelve percent in the pill. The next year they rolled back prices and sales rebounded, World Watch declares. A badly made or poorly inserted intrauterine device (IUD) will injure the wearer significantly. Consequently, this could turn the women off birth control altogether. In some cases, the best methods are unavailable, leaving only one option for a majority of women to prevent unwanted pregnancy: sterilization. In Ghana and India, 69% of women choose this option, but not until well after they have birthed multiple children.
A further reason the population continues to boom is population momentum. Population momentum is defined as:
The tendency for population growth to continue beyond the time that replacement-level fertility has been achieved because of a relatively high concentration of people in the childbearing years. For example, the absolute numbers of people in developing countries will continue to increase over the next several decades even as the rates of population growth will decline. This phenomenon is due to past high fertility rates, which results in a large number of young people. As these youth grow older and move through reproductive ages, the greater number of births will exceed the number of deaths in the older populations (World Bank 5).
Nearly one half of the population increase in the next fifty years will come from population momentum from the next reproductive generation. These people are teenaged and younger and are the majority of the current population. In fact, in the next twenty-five years, three billion people-the entire world population in 1960-will enter their reproductive years. Only 1.8 billion will actually reach reproductive age of the original three billion. Yet, if the surviving population has children at what industrial nations would consider an early age, the population will still expand 1.7 billion even if each couple only had two children each. The problem compounds more because of the longer life expectancy and that the children of the teenaged and younger will come of age to bear children, causing a state of population upheaval.
Finally, religion and society plays an important role in the population explosion. Many of the most populated countries" religions are either Muslim or Christian. Pakistan is 97% Muslim. In Pakistan, forty-three percent of husbands disapproved of family planning. In fact, they believe the number of children they have is "up to God" (Mitchell 4). If the Qur"an is worded as the Bible, then a husband and wife only have sexual intercourse during the wife"s fertile period, because she is unclean for two weeks after menstruation. As a result, the chances that people who rely upon God to decide how many children will be given to a family will have either large family, or much death to look forward to, from stillborns, miscarriage, starvation, or the wife dying in child birthing. Large families are also a result of a desire for sons. Many women will have children until they bear a son. "In India, for many instances, many Hindus believe that they need a son to perform their last rites, or their souls will not be released from the cycle of births and rebirths" (Mitchell 5). This reason alone holds great importance, because like in Christianity the next life should be better. In reality, more worry that is significant comes from fear of being released in this life, "many husbands desert wives who do not bear sons" (Mitchell 5). In some castes, sons give financial security, when the husband dies, because society forbids the woman from returning to the village of her birth or joining her daughter"s family. She must instead join her son"s family. Lack of sons grants no other option than to die with the spouse. In fact, all children provide financial security. In the parent"s old age, the children take turns caring for them, when the children are young the labor they provide rather than detracting from the family"s livelihood, actually contributes (Mitchell 4). This rational led to the developing nations contributing to the majority of the world"s populous, and is one of the main reasons that population momentum will be the future citizen"s biggest problem.
"Despite the different demographic projections, no country will be immune to the effects of population growth. Of course, the countries with the highest growth rate are likely to feel the greatest immediate burdens‚Ä”on their educational and public health systems, for instance and on their forests, soil, and water as the struggle to grow more food intensifies." (Mitchell 2) The Oregon Chapter of Zero Population Growth reports that "there will be only ¼ as much fresh water per person in 2050 as there was in 1950‚Ķ Pakistan/ Nigeria/ Ethiopia/ Iran with a projected combined population of more than one billion people by 2050 will have a grain area per person of only 0.1 acre." Already nearly one hundred nations must depend on grain imports to some degree, and 1.3 billion of the world"s people are living on the equivalent of $1 a day or less. Thirty-one nations with a collective population of over a billion are experiencing a chronic water shortage for over a year. Researchers predict that within the next twenty-five years, that figure will explode to fifty nations and three billion people‚Ä”35 percent of all the projected people to be living on the earth in 2025. Jordan"s King Hussein once said, "that water was the only issue that could lead him to declare war on Israel." Not only does this example give proof of the severity of the issue but shows that no country will escape. A war for water would cause Israel's financial and political backers, the Western World, to step forward, directly involving themselves in one of the many issues caused by overpopulation.
Overpopulation will affect the economy also. "When women have too many children which they can"t care for, the ripple effects are both local and global," says Amy Coen, head of the US-based Population Action International. Experts predict that there will be an additional 122 million pregnancies in the next year, 65,000 will end in death of the mother and injure another 844,000 (Mitchell 7). This will lead to either abandoned children or the other children taking on the responsibility of their mother. Leading to under education, because the children either do not attend regularly or not at all. That factor directly affects the economy of the country. In addition, overpopulation causes a lack of employment opportunity. Unemployment makes people work for less, consequently the economy decreases.
The over population crisis has caused many other problems for the environment, including deforestation and extinction of animals. In October of 1999, the National Wildlife Federation stated, "Currently, about 39.5 million acres of forest, and area roughly the size of Nepal, are bulldozed, or burned each year" (National Wildlife Federation 5). These forests are sacrificed for either agricultural land or development of housing. Lester Brown of the Washington-based World Watch Institute claims "seventy-five percent of the historic growth of population and seventy-five percent of the loss in global forest cover has taken place in the twentieth century." (National Wildlife Federation 6). This statistic directly links population growth to deforestation, which is a serious issue, considering that trees produce vital oxygen needed to breath
Every year over the course of the coming decades, 50,000 plant and animal species are likely to disappear, ecologists warn. The percentage of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians threatened with extinction is now in the double digits, and the loss of insects and micro organisms in incalculable (National Wildlife Federation 12).
The severity of losing plants and animals surpasses horrible. This disrupts the food chain and diminishes the means for new medicine development. Plants and other life forms are not renewable once extinct. Therefore, the best discovery ever could already be non-existent.
Over population is a problem, that should scare everyone, and is caused by a few simple factors: desire for large families, population momentum, religion and society. Whether, the large numbers are by choice or not they affect every person in the world. They cause food and water shortages, lower economy, and environmental problems.
Works Cited
Abernethy, Virgina Deane. "Allowing fertility decline:200 years after Malthus"s Essay on Population." Enviromental Law, Winter 1997v27n4p1097-1109.
Campaign Issues: Facing the Facts. Face to Face. 29 February 2000 <http://www.facecampaign.org/tmpls/issues.html>.
Glossary. World Bank. 25 February 2000 <http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/modules/glossary.htm#momentum>.
Mitchell, Jennifer D. "Before the Next Doubling." World Watch 11 (January/February 1998): 20-27.
"No" and other Methods of Birth Control. Contraceptive pamphlet. Kenilworth, Illinois: Private Line, 1996.
6 Billion: A Time for Choices. United Nation Population Fund. 29 February 2000 <http://www.unpfa.org>.
6,000,000,000 Consumption Machines. National Wildlife Foundation. 7 March 2000 <http://www.nwf.org/intlwild/1998/6billionso.html>.
World Population Continues to Grow. ENN News Archive. 17 February 2000 <http://www.enn.com/enn-news-archieve/1999/04/040599/population_2496.asp>.
World Population: Special Report. BBC news. 27 February 2000 <http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/special_report/1999/06/99/world_population/newsid_381000/381043.stm>.
Zero Population Growth. The Central Oregon Chapter of Zero Population Growth. 17 February 2000 <http://www.envirocenter.org/groups/zeropop/zeropop.html>.

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