Overpopulation as a Global Environmental Crisis: Concept and Prevention Essay

This paper examines the concept of overpopulation and assesses its impact on global matters and world affairs. The paper goes on to examine how overpopulation affects the world as a whole. The paper finally discusses the ways of preventing overpopulation.

Overpopulation is defined “a country or region that has too many people and is therefore not capable of achieving or maintaining a suitable standard of living” (Pitzl 168). This implies that overpopulation is just about a geographical area that has too many people and limited resources to take care of the numbers of people within it. Another definition of overpopulation is that it is “the condition of having a population as dense as to cause environmental deterioration and impaired quality of life or a population crash” (Gonzalez 117).

These two definitions of overpopulation seem to have some differences as well as some commonalities. First of all, both definitions are based on the fact that overpopulation is based on the fact that there might be too many people as opposed to resources in a given area. This implies that overpopulation occurs when there are more people in relation to the resources available to them for their survival and livelihoods.

On the other hand, the two writers are not in agreement about the scope of globalization. Whilst Pitzl defines globalization in terms of countries or geographical regions, Gonzalez views it as a global matter which has an impact on the natural environment. This means that the first definition localizes the idea of overpopulation whilst the second generation looks at it as a global problem or issue.

Reasons why Overpopulation is a Global Issue

In this world, resources and the natural environment are shared. Instead of having a limited access to natural resources, most resources in the natural environment transcend natural borders. Hence, it can be argued that if there is excessive pressure on the natural resources of a given nation, it would affect users of other nations and make it a global matter or issue.

Examining overpopulation critically, it is conclusive that it leads to major problems which are a a direct consequence of having too many people using the same natural resources. This often results in pressure over natural resources, pollution, congestion, unorganized development amongst others.

Nagel and Guinness identify that overpopulation can be defined in terms of having a population that is above the normal level that a nation or community can hold (111). The standard level of population that a community’s resources can support is known as the optimum population (Nagel and Guinness 111). However, when the population goes above the optimum population, there is an increasing pressure on resources and the living standards of the community would begin to decline. Hence, there would be the non-sustainable use of natural resources, and the over-use of elements of the natural environment. This leads to pressure not only on local resources but on the global ecological balance. This is because when natural resources are put to a use that is beyond the normal, there would be some implications for other resources outside the nation or community.

Over population causes nations around the world to get concerns. This is because population leads to migration. And if there is migration, nations with optimal populations are also affected and they would have to find ways and means of reducing the flow of migrants into their countries. For example, in the case of China which shares a long border with Russia, there is a major threat to the Russian economy and Russian natural resources if the population of China moves further up. This is because when China’s population grows, the pressure on Chinese resources would be so high that a section of the Chinese community would have to leave the country in order to find other resources to survive on. This means that Russia would be affected by the problem of China and they would have major problems. Thus, the concern of population growth beyond the optimum is not the concern of only one country but of the global community.

Two elements of overpopulation, which are climate change and the pollution of waterbodies are directly global and can only be dealt with through global means. Since overpopulation causes pressure on natural resources, the growth of populations would cause an increase in the standard of living amongst people in a given geographical area. Due to this, there is the need for more production to be done and this would potentially cause higher carbon emissions which can lead to global warming and worsen the current condition of the ozone layer. Also, the growth in population often leads to the destruction of waterbodies and rainforests around the world which adds to the reduction in the health of people around the world. This is a universal problem and hence, causes all the people of the world to go through some kind of hardships irrespective of whether they have controlled their populations or not. Thus for example, if the population in India is extremely high and it causes industries to give of high emissions and the population of Sweden is low, the influence of the Indian emissions would cause the whole world, including the people of Sweden to suffer from the high levels of emissions. This is because those problems are universal, rather than local.

Controlling Global Overpopulation

Overpopulation is a serious matter. It deserves to be dealt with through a very serious and integrated approach. There are two popular approaches to dealing with environmental challenges relating to overpopulation. They are population control and environmental responsiveness (McKinney et al 48).

Population Control

Every nation can control its population if the government has a population policy. A population policy “encompasses all of the measures explicitly or implicitly taken by a government aimed at influencing population size, growth, distribution or composition” (Nagel and Guinness 114). This means that governments would make a conscious effort to define the population control targets over a given period of time to ensure that they maintain a stable and manageable population throughout the period.

There are many approaches go this. This include family planning programs which set the target and number of children that a family could have (Kendall 48). An example is China where every family is forced to have just one child and not more than that. Also, there are some social systems that can be promoted in a nation to prevent the rapid growth in population. This include fecundity which include the use of policies to define the ability to have intercourse, the ability to conceive and the ability to carry pregnancies. These can be controlled by social and cultural norms as well as laws. And hence, they can be varied to help to meet the targets of the people in charge. Also, the formation and dissolution of unions can be controlled by the state to ensure that it is in sync with the population policy. Finally, birth control can be enhanced through the population policy system to enable the nation to meet its population policy targets.

Due to the global nature of the overpopulation issue, population control is now a matter of global concern rather than national concern. Many developing nations now get support and guidance from richer nations to carry out their population control programs (Smith 92). There are global for a through which population matters are discussed and encouraged to get different governments to support and enhance population control.

Environmental Responsibility

Although overpopulation often causes pressure on natural resources, McKinney et al (31) argue that if there are responsible methods and means of using natural resources, the pressure is not likely to be felt. This is because where there is a structured and efficient method of dealing with the natural environment, then the environment is not likely to suffer from the effects of usage.

Hence, the nations around the world are being encouraged to come up with environmental policies concerning pollution and carbon emissions amongst others. If this is done, then it can be seen that the effects of overpopulation would be controlled to a high degree.

Also, in the case where technology is improved and research is conducted into producing better and more meaningful methods and systems of using the natural environment, the effects of population growth on the extraction of natural resources would be reduced and this would make the world a better place to live in.


Overpopulation is a global issue because many natural resources transcend national boundaries. Resources like the climate and waterbodies go beyond borders. Hence, if population grows beyond normal, these resources would be affected on a global level rather than national level. Also, there is the chance for migration amongst people in the world. Hence, overpopulation in one part of the world leads to migration which causes resources in other nations to come under pressure as well.

In order to deal with overpopulation on the global level, there is the need for national population policies. This must be bolstered by a global campaign for the promotion of population control and population checks. Also, responsible usage of natural resources helps in the protection of the natural environment in periods of high population growth.

Works Cited

  • Gonzalez Joe. A Young Person’s Guidebook to Respect and Individual Ethics. Indianapolis, IN: Xlibris Publishing. 2009. Print.
  • Kendall Diana. Sociology in our Times: The Essentials. Mason, OH: Cengage. 2011. Print.
  • McKinney Michael, Schoch Robert and Yonavjak Logan. Environmental Science: Systems and Solutions. New York: Jones and Bartlett. 2007. Print.
  • Nagel Garret, and Guinness, Paul. Geography. London: Hodder Publications. 2011. Print.
  • Pitzl Gerald. Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Darby, PA: Greenwood Publishing Group. 2004. Print.
  • Smith Gareth. Environmental and Sustainability Management. San Antonio: University of Texas Press. 2010. Print.