As the world population figure continues to climb towards the 7 billion mark, and the population of the US alone closes in 311 million, there are increasing concerns surrounding the capacity of the earth’s natural resources to sustain such growth. This, coupled with the continual decline of the environments health, is raising pertinent questions as to whether people and governments are losing control of the world as it is known.
It is common sense to suggest that where there are more people subsisting in a particular space, then there will be more pressure applied on the areas resources to fulfill the growing need. With this mind, it is clear that unless the separate concerns of spiraling population numbers and environmental issues are tackled soon, the quality of life in more and more pockets of the world will be affected swiftly and adversely.
An Undue Toll on Natural Resources
Poverty amongst communities is indicative of areas where natural resources are unable to meet demand. This has been seen throughout various regions of Africa through the last two decades, where famine and droughts have spread with distressing regularity to affect small and over populated villages. Poor birth control methodology and inadequate population control has been a large contributor to these afflictions, leaving people without the requisite supplies of food and clean water to subsist or maintain any quality of life.
To the western world, this has always been a remote issue. Although numerous people and charitable organizations have performed sterling fund raising tasks to help improve third world conditions, the concept of poverty and famine is not one that weighs heavily on citizens of wealthy or affluent nations. This is a rather short sighted vision however, as the portents of poverty are creeping into western civilization and communities with disarming regularity. These indications may not be as overt as those displayed in certain African regions, but they are becoming more obvious and frequent as the population increases.
Homelessness and a paucity of effective wealth distribution are both pertinent in areas where the earth’s resource can not sustain its inhabitants. This can be evidenced through a lack of food or water supplies, or simply because there is not enough space for housing to accommodate all of a communities individuals. The latter is more significant in western and US society, and a clear example of where more affluent and capital rich nations are facing up to the consequences of over population and lack of birth control regulation.
Wealth Distribution in Over Populated Countries
The concept of stretched resource is not limited to nature or the environment. In wealthy countries such as the US or UK, wealth distribution and affordable housing are also affected by increasing population numbers, as economies struggle to house and keep additional members of society. The truth is that each nation has thresholds with regards to its space, wealth and employment opportunities and in the instances where population grows out of proportion with these resources a country is pushed and pressurized to breaking point.
The US is a case in point. In 1965, the residential population (excluding armed forces representatives who were based overseas) stood at approximately 193 million. This same statistic had risen to 295 million by 2005, equating to a population surge of over 100 million and an estimated annual rise of just over 2 million. While it is obvious to state that the US boundaries have not expanded to accommodate this inflated number, it is a more considered observation that the countries wealth and vocational possibilities have not developed at the same rate of growth or expansion. This consistent and reliable increase in population prompted the sudden explosion in the number of homeless US citizens throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, and this situation remains problematic in contemporary society.
Solutions and Responsibility
Whether the persistent growth in the worlds population afflicts natural resources (in poor or third world environments) or quality of life and the effective distribution of wealth (in affluent and advanced societies), it remains a very tangible and potentially destructive social issue. The ultimate responsibility for this issue sits primarily with each individual within a community, and requires them to plan the growth of their family unit and regulate births with consideration and maturity. Secondary to this, governments must take on the task of implementing family planning measures and regulations, providing its citizens with ample legislation and guidelines to maintain a healthy population.
One notion would be to borrow from the one child policy that originated from the Chinese government as a birth and population control aid. The issue is that this legislation is viewed as rather draconian and restrictive by western governments, and such a policy is viewed as an extreme response, even in the instance of escalating population figures. The danger that the US and western governments may encounter however, is that if they do not engage their citizens and act soon, they could be faced with a situation where implementing this policy will be the only method capable of restoring balance to societies and the requisite quality of life.