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Is Overpopulation or Lack of Resources a Problem Today?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 427 times Debate No: 84971
Debate Rounds (3)
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With today's pace of technological development overpopulation is a problem of the past. For example, the idiotic proposer of doom for mankind Paul Ehrlich "predicted" that in the 1970s tens of millions of people would die in mass famines in India alone. His book "Population Bomb" started in this manner: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..." and so on and so forth. What happened that stopped these catastrophes? The world's scientists created what is now known today to be the "Green Revolution" vastly increasing the production of crops and ensuring that humanity had vast surpluses of food. Indeed, the same is true even today(1). This year the first Food Surplus Summit took place to try and find out what to do with the extra food. Of course, hundreds of thousands or even millions of children are starving in Africa in South East Asia. However, we can easily see that the countries where the food problem is most severe is where corruption is rife and officials take billions of dollars that should go to feed children.
In the future developments in genetically modified crops and fertilisers will by most estimates cover the rate of population growth until it finally drops. Falling fertility rates caused by the lack of need for more children will eventually cause the human population to stop rising and stabilise.

In conclusion, lack of food is not and will never be a problem for the world. Humanity is not comparable to a herd of deer that dies out when it overgrazes a field. Next I will display how we will not run out of resources like oil and minerals.

(1) Source: "It's getting better all the time" by Julian Simons


Overpopulation is a problem. It's not a problem everywhere, but it is most certainly an issue worth addressing. Most specifically, it's a problem in East Asia and South Asia. I'd like to refer you to the example of Bangladesh. A country of about 140,000 square kilometers in area, but about 156 million people live in its borders. This is an important problem, because this means that there are more than 1,000 people per kilometer squared. Bangladesh is already a poor corrupt, and generally desolate country, but this only makes it worse.

Due to this high population huddled around one river, with not nearly enough infrastructure to sustain itself, Bangladesh has high Cholera, Dengue Fever, and Malaria rates. Also, due to overcrowding of these cities, Bangladesh's annual floods have had a disastrous impact on its urban poor, with these people having to rebuild their entire houses constantly as the river tears it down again and again. And what's worse, due to it being a developing nation, this population will only grow to over 300 million by 2040.

Child Poverty is high, infant mortality is high, transportation is a nightmare, the cities are overcrowded, and due to worsening floods due to climate change, all this is likely to worsen in the near future. [1]

Fortunately, in China, they recognized the problem early, and in doing so, they prevented the same situation from developing in crowded cities like Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai. Granted, this caused other problems, namely a rapidly aging population, but this is irrelevant. [2]

In addition, Overpopulation will continue to be problem in terms of access to fresh water, lower life expectancies, reproductive rights, habitat destruction, and natural resource depletion, along with other unsatisfactory repercussions. This will be a problem, as many developing nations start to get larger and larger populations, with the world population peaking at around 9 Billion. This won't be helped by our increasing usage of technology. [3];[4]

In conclusion, everyone around the world will experience the effects of overpopulation, even if food isn't going to be a problem.

Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, I would like to address my opponent's argument. I think we can all agree that Bangladesh, the country you pulled into question has many problems. However, the problems that Bangladesh and South East Asia have are not a result of overpopulation, but human error, climate and lack of correct morals and policy. In 2005 Bangladesh was ranked as the equal most corrupt country in the world ( provides a corruption rating for every country on earth). In 2014 it was ranked 145 out of 175, still extremely high. The South East Asian countries Myanmar(156), Laos(145), Vietnam(119), Nepal(126) and Pakistan(126) are extremely corrupt. How could corruption have large effects?

You mentioned mortality and disease. In Bangladesh many private hospitals have sprung up that do not maintain government regulations, expose patients to radioactivity from medical equipment and maintain unethical practices in general. The celebrated physiotherapist Valerie Taylor lamented the failure of society to care for those who were paralysed. Lack of any organised, uncorrupted and stable government in countries like Libya, Eritrea, Somalia and other African nations often leads to lack of any hospitals at all.

You mentioned lack of transportation and infrastructure. In the words of the corruption think tank Transparency in their report about Bangladesh (available to download at "The public administration is heavily centralised in terms of service delivery, the setting of expenditure priorities, allocation of resources, procurement of goods and services, and the implementation of projects. It faces serious challenges including poor remuneration, weak accountability and corruption. Public officials have over the years been politicised." Money and resources are either being stolen by corrupt officials or handled by incompetent and untrained ones. Lack of the two requirements mentioned above also halts the government's ability to handle climate change and floods. The World Bank mentions that "[There is]Inadequate infrastructure, especially power and ports. There has not been any increase in generation capacity of power supply for a few years, mainly due to governance-related problems. "

In addition to this the GDP of Bangladesh and other South East Asian countries have grown ( and the problem is being rapidly resolved. Largely due to international or domestic aid Bangladesh is coping better to floods, people all over Asia are getting more jobs and the amount of education children are receiving is growing. The World Bank notes that Bangladesh's educational system, while bad in comparison to Western schools, are going through "impressive improvements".

You claim that overpopulation will result in less access to fresh water and that it cannot be helped by technology. Sewage recycling systems currently implemented in Israel, California, Spain, Australia and Singapore already recycle large portions of human urine (making it completely safe and healthy to drink) proposed projects and research in GM crops will vastly cut down on the amount of water we consume. In addition corruption / is hindering large portions of humanity from accessing fresh water.

You say that overpopulation will lover life expectancies. However you do not note that "overpopulation", the real "problem" is mainly caused by falling life expectancies all over the globe. As the World Health Organisation states ( ):

"Since 1990, life expectancy at birth has increased globally by 6 years, but during the 1990s the value in Europe has showed a stagnation, and in Africa it has even decreased. For Europe, the phenomenon is due mainly to adverse mortality trends in the former Soviet Union countries. The decrease in Africa has been caused by HIV/AIDS, but the increasing availability of antiretroviral therapy has reduced the spread of the epidemic, and the mortality due to HIV/AIDS has been decreasing since about 2005, allowing life expectancy at birth to increase again: average life expectancy at birth in Africa, was 50 years in 2000, whereas it was 58 years in 2013."

Another example of human ingenuity and advancement in medicinal technology. Speaking about human ingenuity, I promised last round to show how lack of the production of resources will not be a problem. An article on population by the think-tank the Cato Institute (") says that "The growth in human population has been more than met by increases in the production of food and other resources, including energy. We are not running out of resources, and real prices of raw materials are lower than ever before." Of course, nobody is saying that there exist infinite amounts of coal, oil or water. In the contrary, I believe that that human creativity and innovation is infinite. In 1972 the best-selling book The Limits to Growth predicted that global oil reserves would run out by 2003. However, they did not account for technological growth that would increase the efficiency of both oil distillation and the ability to find new oil wells. Technology has also found better replacements or means of production for certain resources. For example, fibre optic cables and silicon chips that are in large demand now can be made from sand. People who say forests are being destroyed and we are running out of wood are refuted by the latest data showing how the world's forests are growing (

In conclusion, trying to claim that overpopulation is a problem in developing countries is incorrect and the real problems are lack of government, corruption and natural climate. Natural resources are also not to be worried about for human advancement in technology will ensure that they will last for the foreseeable future.


The question is, is that corruption because of overpopulation? Overpopulation causes high crime and poverty, and with both of these naturally come corruption in government. (

The hospitals won't matter if you still have outbreaks of waterborne illnesses and an urban poor that simply can't afford hospitals at all.

Yes, the government in Bangladesh is corrupt, but so is Russia's government. So is the government in North Korea, in fact, so are a lot of countries in third world nations in a similar situation to Bangladesh. What makes Bangladesh so special? Why do you see overcrowded buses and trains in Indian cities and Bangladesh? Answer: ridiculously overswollen cities with inadequate transportation systems.

And yes, just because overpopulation is a problem doesn't mean Bangladesh can't overcome it, it just means that it will be greatly impeded. I made the same point about Bangladesh's life expectancy. I said it could be greatly impeded. I don't see how global life expectancies falling for other reasons discredit my theory.

Great, you found a natural resource solution! If only that could be applied to ridiculously poor nation in South Asia, which likely will have no economic means to access this technology. I agree that over time, these people will slowly develop into a better nation, but this is not to be expected all at once, and this overpopulation will only impede growth. (
Debate Round No. 2


Let's first talk about corruption. I'm confused about how the source you mentioned shows that corruption is caused by overpopulation. It does mention democracy and representation, but poorly backs it up, even quoting Aristotle(who could possibly be more desperate?). In all countries that are not plagued by corruption and electoral fraud the government is still chosen by the people. Representatives have an initiative to do as the people say if they want to keep their jobs next election. This paper published by the IMF( outlines the main causes of corruption and none of these even mention overpopulation.

High crime and poverty also are not proven to cause corruption. In fact, the main reason why corruption is still exists today is simply lack of any education. As people know less about government and how they are being cheated they are doing less about it. Also, the fact that the governments of Bangladesh and other countries are relatively new and instituted less than three quarters of a century ago(Bangladesh-1971, Pakistan-1947 Vietnam-1975, Thailand-2014, Laos-1945, etc.) they have had much less experience and are in many cases incapable of handling their own corruption unlike Western Governments.

Yes, hospitals alone cannot help outbreaks of waterborne illnesses but government hygiene projects in many cases paid by the health sector use hospitals or at least qualified doctors to help find out where the water is infected and where best to implement quarantine tactics. You say a population in poverty cannot pay for hospitals. Of course this is true for private hospitals but for public ones a large portion of the money is paid by richer corporations thanks to taxation. Health problems can also be alleviated by international aid, if the officials have the competence to ask, seek and raise awareness.

You mention "inadequate transport systems." With proper management infrastructure problems can be easily solved. This paper(/ shows how low taxation and tax evasion as well as poor spending vastly limits the amount of money Bangladesh has at its disposal. By cleaning up the government, increasing corporation tax and increasing the amount of education officials receive in the future these faults will soon be resolved.

"Over" population is not even a problem to global life expectancies. On the contrary it provides more human resources to produce drugs, minerals and farmed goods, not to mention technological advances and ideas. A farmer or factory worker produces more than he or she consumes(for example, a farmer makes more than enough food to feed himself and his family). As high birth rates are more common in agricultural countries high population will allow production and the economy to grow proportionately to the growth in the amount of money that will have to be spend on educating, transporting and keeping them healthy. Overall this should raise life expectancy.

Of course now in the state that countries in South Asia are the water recycling program I mentioned could not be used there. While Asia only produces 8% of the worlds genetically modified crops this percentage is rapidly growing. The point is, I did not say that currently humanity needed the technology I mentioned to survive. However, by the time food or water or oil will be problem(probably over half a century away) extremely high economic growth in developing countries or imports from developed countries should have easily solved this problem.

In conclusion, more people means more ideas, more farmers, more factory workers, more scientists and more teachers. Such a large number of people should have enough power to remove a corrupt government. As humans produce more than they consume our species should be looked upon as a blessing, not a curse. Among the problems this world has, too many people is not one of them.


I forgot to list the source on the first one, I apologize. I concede that corruption may be partially a cause of this. However, I would like to point out that if lack of education leads to corruption, then poverty is likely to be an indirect cause of corruption. It is proven that poverty causes lack of education, and therefore, it affects corruption levels. Therefore, by three degrees of separation, corruption is caused by overpopulation. (

Those solutions don't deny the fact that overpopulation is a problem. Besides, where are these solutions right now? In my assessment, International Aid, while plenty, is not nearly enough to cure the problem right now. The permanent solution would be more education, which is very difficult. Besides, the government does not have the time or means to contain an entire river, which is where much of the population obtains their water.

On the fourth and fifth points you are wrong. These problems are already here. In these countries, water is scarce, food is scarce, and farming is made very hard by the poverty and the people living on arable land, not to mention other climatic conditions in Bangladesh (including the monsoon) which make it even harder to farm, as it limits growing time and floods the delta. It takes a lot of money to fund a farm start-up, and they aren't always that successful, because of corruption and population growth, among other caues. ( (

More people does not necessarily mean more workers. If there is not enough space for these people, then they will likely never reach their full potential. Besides, the most growth is among the urban poor, who do not have the means to become farmers, scientists, or teachers because they simply lack the education to. (; (

In short, it is highly unlikely that overpopulation is not a problem. Corruption and poverty are indirectly caused by overpopulation, and overpopulation is not a problem easily overcome. Do not underestimate its affects; it can even affect us, as the globe warms because of increased city size and destruction of greenery for city space. (

I would like to thank Con for a good debate. It's been a long time since I had one that made me think a bit.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by MikeTheGOd 9 months ago
Yeah food isn't the problem, its just like you stated corruption as well as underdevelopment preety much. If those countries had more schools built and proper management they would be fine. But another problem for Africa as well is Disease as well as the climate of the location. Africa has a ton of diseases that really impact the region. Countries like America that have a lot of success have a moderate climate but Africa has severe climates.

There are a lot of factors tbh but yeah food isn't one of them unless you look at like North Korea where agriculture is an issue or something
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