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Overpopulation: Fact Or Myth?





Before starting this article, I wish to specify that it is not because I choose to question the concept of overpopulation that I also question the need to end poverty, over consumption and environmental destruction. Overpopulation may be a concept, but poverty and unsustainable practises are a reality and my life is geared towards raising consciousness about alternative ways to operate as a society.
However, I believe it is important to question everything; even claims closely tied to the activist and environmentalist movement. Why? Because by questioning theories such as overpopulation, I discovered an even more promising future than the never-ending struggle of trying to merely control the damage we cause to the planet and each other without addressing the cause.
Questioning scare-tactics, even if they seem to be geared towards noble causes, does not necessarily deny our support of the causes themselves. Yet they might save us from getting caught up on issues that distract us from the REAL problems and relevant steps we can take to create meaningful and long-lasting change.

The Overpopulation Scare: How It All Started

The concept of overpopulation originated in England in 1798, when the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus saw that food production increased incrementally, while people reproduced exponentially. Based on his calculations, he predicted that the world would be out of food by the year 1980. Malthus blamed reduced mortality rates and encouraged population reduction.
In his Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus calls for increased mortality among the poor:
All the children born, beyond what would be required to keep up the population to this level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons… To act consistently therefore, we should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavouring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. (Book IV, Chap. V) — Read it online. 
Not only that, he believed certain diseases should not sought to be cured for the sake of population control.
“But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. (Book IV, Chap. V) — Read it online.”
As harsh as this sounds, the push for depopulation was defined by those supporting it as a necessary evil to save humanity and the planet.
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University adopted and propagated Malthus’ theory of overpopulation. He claimed that excessive human reproduction has overwhelmed the planet and predicted that the world would undergo massive famines, which would kill off hundreds of millions of people by the end of the 70’s.
In his 1968 work The Population Bomb, Ehrlich stated:
“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines–hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
Because of the fear that such an alarming claim triggered, large sums of money were donated to the UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund), which was founded the year after Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. This fund thrives on a crisis that – despite being “imminent” – keeps on being rescheduled over and over again for the past 200 years.
How “imminent” is this crisis exactly? Is there really too little space, too little resources and too many people? What are the facts and what are the myths? 

Not Enough Space?

1. The Entire World Population Can Sink Into The State Of Texas

Many believe that overpopulation is a question of lack of space. It isn’t.
Today, there is approximately 7,268,730,000 people on earth. The landmass of Texas is 268,820 square miles (7,494,271,488,000 square feet). If we divide 7,494,271,488,000 square feet by 7,268,730,000 people, we get 1031 square feet per person. This is enough space for everyone on earth to live in a townhouse while altogether fitting on a landmass the size of Texas. And we’re not even accounting for the average four-person family who would most likely share a home!
It is not to say that creating such a massive subdivision would be a smart, sustainable or practical thing to do. Cramming together a population that continues to over-consume, waste and poison the environment the way we currently do would be a recipe for disaster. This is just to give an idea of how it isn’t space itself that is lacking. Notice how small Texas is compared to the rest of the world!

Did You Know?

- Every man, woman, and child on earth could each have 5 acres of land. (Calculated from numbers found on: “Central Intelligence Agency” The World Fact book)
- If we wanted to squeeze close, everyone in the world could stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the island of Zanzibar.
- Plankton make up 3 times more biomass than all 7 billion humans combined. 

2. Cities Are Overcrowded, The World Is Not

How can this be proved? Easy: Conditions of apparent overpopulation only exist in cities, not in rural areas.
The urban population is on the rise. (see graph here)
Since 2008, more than half of humanity has become urbanised. The reason is because there are more opportunities to make money in the city than in the countryside. A city is crowded because people come from miles and miles away to move there, not because of wreck-less reproduction and overpopulation.

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