Acrylic and Jute on Canvas
Some members of the Australian environmental movement, notably the organisation Sustainable Population Australia, believe that as the driest inhabited continent, Australia cannot continue to sustain its current rate of population growth without becoming overpopulated. The UK-based Optimum Population Trust supports the view that Australia is overpopulated, and believes that to maintain the current standard of living in Australia, the optimum population is 10 million (rather than the present 20.86 million), or 21 million with a reduced standard of living.
Effects of overpopulation
Some problems associated with or exacerbated by human overpopulation:
Inadequate fresh water for drinking water use as well as sewage treatment and effluent discharge. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, use energy-expensive desalination to solve the problem of water shortages.
Depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels
Increased levels of air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination and noise pollution. Once a country has industrialized and become wealthy, a combination of government regulation and technological innovation causes pollution to decline substantially, even as the population continues to grow.
The chronic inability of many of these countries to escape from the "Malthusian trap" via economic growth exceeding population growth. Many Third World countries simply lack the economic or infrastructural base to provide a rising standard of living for most of their people, especially in Africa, the Arab world, and parts of Latin America.
Deforestation and loss of ecosystems that sustain global atmospheric oxygen and carbon dioxide balance; about eight million hectares of forest are lost each year.
Changes in atmospheric composition and consequent global warming
Irreversible loss of arable land and increases in desertification Deforestation and desertification can be reversed by adopting property rights, and this policy is successful even while the human population continues to grow.
Illegal (and legal) immigration to the developed world on an unprecedented scale, creating an unprecedented demographic and political problem in Europe and the United States. Even the controlled and legal migration of talented and well-educated people from the Third World to the developed world denudes it of its limited skills base.
Mass species extinctions from reduced habitat in tropical forests due to slash-and-burn techniques that sometimes are practised by shifting cultivators, especially in countries with rapidly expanding rural populations; present extinction rates may be as high as 140,000 species lost per year. The IUCN Red List lists a total of 698 animal species having gone extinct during recorded human history.
High infant and child mortality. High rates of infant mortality are caused by poverty. Rich countries with high population densities have low rates of infant mortality.
Increased incidence of hemorrhagic fevers and other infectious diseases from crowding, lack of adequate sanitation and clean portable water, and scarcity of available medical resources.
Starvation, malnutrition or poor diet with ill health and diet-deficiency diseases (e.g. rickets). Famine is aggravated by poverty. Rich countries with high population densities do not have famine.
Poverty coupled with inflation in some regions and a resulting low level of capital formation. Poverty and inflation are aggravated by bad government and bad economic policies. Many countries with high population densities have eliminated absolute poverty and keep their inflation rates very low.
Low birth weight due to the inability of mothers to get enough resources to sustain a fetus from fertilization to birth
Low life expectancy in countries with fastest growing populations
Unhygienic living conditions for many based upon water resource depletion, discharge of raw sewage and solid waste disposal
Elevated crime rate due to drug cartels and increased theft by people stealing resources to survive
Conflict over scarce resources and crowding, leading to increased levels of warfare
Over-utilization of infrastructure, such as mass transit, highways, and public health systems
Higher land prices
In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote the satirical essay A Modest Proposal where he suggests one solution for both the problem of overpopulation and the growing numbers of undernourished people in Ireland: cannibalism, particularly the raising of infants as food
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