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Imagine you have a fishbowl. In this fishbowl, you start with a grand

total of one goldfish. Exciting, I know. You give this fish as much food

as it desires, the water’s pretty clean and life is going swimmingly for

your little friend. Now your fish is pretty lonely, so the next day you

drop another goldfish into the bowl. However, you are only allowed

to give the same amount of food as you did when you had one fish. In

other words, your two fishwill have to live on half the amount of food.

Now imagine that every day, you have to add another fish to the

bowl, but you can still only give the same amount of food. A few days

pass, and I think you can tell that there will be a few problems here.

First of all, you’re still trying to sustain the entire school of fish with

only enough food to sustain one, and obviously there is just not

enough food for all of them. Second of all, the bowl is starting to

overflow with the fish you keep dropping in there and it’s by no

means going to expand if you keep doing this. Thirdly, the water

isn’t exactly looking pristine anymore. All of these points are leading

to a pretty dire fate for your goldfish.

Now I know what you might be thinking, there are some easy

solutions to these problems. Give the fish enough food, buy another

bowl, change the water once in a while and most of all, just stop

dropping fish into the bowl like some sort of obsessive lunatic. But it

might be a bit harder than that for us, because we are the fish. The

world is our fishbowl. And those problems are staring us in the face

while the human population continues to grow without any show of


We can define an area as overpopulated when the civilisation can’t

be maintained without degrading the capacity of the environment.

Overpopulation is not just a question of cramming more humans

onto the planet, because we have space. Considering density only,

Africa would in fact be underpopulated, with only 55 people per square

mile. However, we also have to consider what these people need to

survive, whether the environment can actually sustain their impact,

and people’s living standards. Overpopulation has become a question

of basic survival. Can the human race survive with this many people

on earth? Could your goldfish survive under those circumstances?

Answer to both: no, not with this rate of growth.

Throughout the history of mankind, the world’s population has

increased unrestrained. The world took thousands of years to reach

just one billion people. Now, this was doubled in just over 100 years.

The Dangers

Of Over-


Gillian Lim

Suzanne Northey Public

Speaking Competition