Is overpopulation a catastrophe waiting to happen? It’s been a hot topic, and recent research from the University of Washington indicated that earlier projections of population growth and consequential overpopulation may have actually been too conservative. The problem of overpopulation may end up being far more disastrous sooner than we had anticipated, according to the statistical model used by Professor Adrian Raftery.
Raftery examined the latest data on fertility, population and mortality. His prediction adds up to an addition five billion more people than previously expected in less than a century, according to Medical News Today.
“Our new projections are probabilistic, and we find that there will probably be between 9.6 and 12.3 billion people in 2100,” Raftery told Medical News Today about the expected extent of overpopulation at the start of the next century. “This projection is based on a statistical model that uses all available past data on fertility and mortality from all countries in a systematic way, unlike previous projections that were based on expert assumptions.”
One difference between Raftery’s projections of overpopulation and previous projections is that the fertility rate in Africa was expected to decline more quickly than it actually is declining. Experts believed that developing countries would begin to mirror the scenario of lower fertility, healthier adults and delayed mortality that developed countries experienced last century. Raftery’s overpopulation research found that in Nigeria, though child mortality rates have declined with development, women are still having an average of six children.
“Rapid population growth is likely to increase the burden on the public health service proportionally,” Raftery stated. “There are already big public health needs and challenges in high-fertility countries, and rapid population growth will make it even harder to meet them.”
Professor Darryl Holman, at the University of Washington, told Medical News Today that “as long as the growth rate remains positive, our species will eventually reach numbers and densities where technological solutions cannot ameliorate resource scarcity.”
A John Hopkins report using the older population expectations already rang alarm bells. It stated that by 2025, just over a decade away now, we may be using over 90 percent of all the available freshwater, leaving only a tenth of the freshwater to be used by all of the other species on the planet. Besides resources, other problems caused by such overpopulation will be waste management and sanitation, according to UW Today. If the population on the globe exceeds 12 billion people like Raftery projects, how will we handle the sewage, grey water, and garbage? Raftery said that overpopulation of this magnitude will also exacerbate climate change, poverty and infectious disease problems.
To combat overpopulation, Raftery suggested making contraceptives more available and providing more girls and women with an education. He suggested that African nations, in particular, given the population growth rates expected, should act now to lower fertility rates. Educating women and girls and providing birth control access are what he considers the two ethically acceptable solutions that will fight overpopulation and alter his projections.
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