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.
Suzanne Northey Public