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Is overpopulation a world threat?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/17/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,085 times Debate No: 29307
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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Overpopulation is the root of many political conflicts and virtually all environmental problems. Aside from avoiding nuclear war, lowering the human population needs be set as a top priority. The limits of the human population are debatable, but the repercussions of having more then 7 billion humans inhabit the planet are not. One could argue that the issue at hand isn't the current population per se, but rather, it is the exponential growth of the human population that is a cause for concern. Data suggests that the world population grows by two percent each year. Some speculate that another two billion will be added to the world population by the year 2030. This rate of growth is far beyond reasonable. Overcrowding in poorer nations can cause countless immigrants to flee to many western nations as well. This is a large factor in the growth of richer nations as well. For example, the U.S. population will grow by over 100 million by year 2050. Either way, overpopulation has played the leading role throughout history in famine, warfare, political organization, political disorganization and arguably countless other social problems.

The conflicts that arise from overpopulation are often very obvious. For example, the spread of disease is magnified by a dense population; overcrowding invariably leads to territorial disputes; and in order for a society to maintain sustainable consumption rates of natural resources, higher populations require lower per-capita consumption rates. Problems such as climate change, pollution, and soil erosion can all be attributed to the fact that the number of humans far exceeds this planets capacity.

Logic would state that any given population should be able to survive solely off of their natural, immediate environment, and in the case that required resources or an abundant food supply is not readily available, the group may migrate, in the best interest of survival, to another region in order to meet their needs.

Possibly one of the largest contributing factors, however, is the overproduction of food. After the birth of agriculture, the ability to produce food outgrew the need, and the overabundance of it led to an intense population explosion. Overproduction of food allows for more people to be born and, therefore, allows for a greater population. Human population growth is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth. Some suggest that advancement in medical science is the greatest influence over the population. Medical science and technology greatly affect the mean life expectancy, but play a small part in the population equation.

No matter what the definitive cause, the Earth simply cannot sustain more then 7 billion humans. If humans are to survive on this planet, we need to drastically begin to reduce our population. Coupled with conservation efforts and the spread of environmental awareness, we might stand a chance, but overpopulation is nothing short of a crisis, and needs to be addressed with urgency.


I urge you to read "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley, where he goes into ALL of these issues in wonderful depth.

I will try to keep this short because I have to wake up in 6 hours.

The population will not go on increasing as the world becomes healthier. Indeed as you know, in many western countries the fertility rate is so low that the populations are decreasing. Where the fertility rate is high and rising, it is rising slower all the time. If I remember correctly, he argues that the world population will not go much above 10 billion.

Sufficient food can be made with continuing agricultural advancement. This involves GM crops, urbanization, proper methods of irrigation (water pipes under the soil, already in use), fertilization etc. Arable surface area can be increased with things such as multistory fields, etc.

The fears related to global warming are greatly exaggerated and the effects occur slowly, they are easy to adapt to and easy to manage in fact global warming will increase the amount of arable land. Global warming can conceivably even be reversed given the right engineering solutions.

There is less war, conflicts and violence than ever before and the world is becoming more peaceful continuously. Trade between nations is an engine for peace, prosperity and progress.

The problem of diminishing natural resources (oil, coal) is greatly exaggerated, with more and more oil and coal being found all the time. Also historically there has been a trend of 'peak ' crises which have never come true (e.g. fears in the 19th century that coal would run out). People will start using other energy sources than fossil fuels.

The planet can easily sustain much more than 7 billion people, no sweat.

About predictions: global famine fear mongering has been going on forever, with books like Famine, 1975! and The Population Bomb. For example early editions of the latter book by Paul Ehrlich he promised (in the 70s) this: "Hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash program embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..."

People seem to be in a sense hardwired to be pessimistic about the future regardless of the evidence or past experience. They look at the way things are going now and extrapolate to the future assuming things won't change, just as The Times of London estimated in 1894 that there would be 9 feet of horse dung on every street of London by 1950. I think you are doing exactly this.
Debate Round No. 1


Each year our population increases greatly but with that the demand for food, oil, electricity increases with it. Our farmers work hard to respond to that demand but it won't be long before there won't be enough food to feed half of us if we continue to grow. Not just this but everyday we destroy more of our forests, rainforests ect to provide housing for us but in the process we are destroying animals habitats as well. I predict that by 2050 our population will be so large that there will be no more habitat for animals, the world will be so polluted it will almost be inhabitable, food will become scarce and there won't be enough fresh water to survive. We need to do something today before our population is out of control.


You are simply wrong.

Again, our population increase is slowing down greatly. There is not a single country on earth who's fertility rate is is larger today than in 1960. Everywhere (except in Khazakstan) fertility rates are falling, and they keep falling faster and faster, and they will fall below the replacement rate. Currently in half the world fertility rates are below the replacement rate.

The pattern is this: mortality falls, causing a population boom, then a few decades later fecundity falls suddenly and rapidly.

The UN's best estimate is that the world population will start falling after reaching a peak at 9.2 billion people in 2075.

And again, there is plenty of food. At 7 billion people we keep eating better and better every decade and agricultural production keeps going up and up, and will continue to do so thanks to (among other things) GM crops, better irrigation methods, etc, as I described in post 1. Food is not a problem in the least.

We won't destroy forests for housing. There is no need to. The world population will become more urbanized, requiring less and less space per person as people move into dense cities and live in multistory apartments.

The world is not becoming polluted either. There have been various scares in the past such as predictions that by 1985 you would need a gas mask to live in the USA and Rachel Carson's prediction of a cancer epidemic caused by chemicals. It is total nonsense. The quality of air in western countries is better than it has been since the beginning of the industrial revolution and is continuing to get better. The same goes for water. Our waste management (filters for cars, water purification, etc) is better than ever and keeps getting better. Preventing pollution is largely a simple matter of lawmaking. Do not panic, the sky is not falling.

Fresh water is abundantly available to everyone not living in extreme poverty in deserts. There is no impending catastrophe of water wars, or whatever. Water isn't destroyed: the water you flush down your toilet is purified and can be used again. Our drinking water is purer than ever. Water comes from the sky and from underground and it can be made by purifying salt water. In fact, global warming on average will cause more rain. This means more fresh water. The warmth and water also means more arable farm land and more food.

Everything you said stems from completely irrational pessimism and your gut feel on how things will go. Your view doesn't take in to account any actual evidence on the subjects and you see no possible change in sight. If something can't keep on going forever, it won't.
Debate Round No. 2


Too much of anything is bad, no matter what the argument is. Big is better if it is contained. More is better if there is control. Anything that is excessive is definitely destructive. Overpopulation is one of them.

For the animal kingdom, a large number of members in a group are an advantage when you talk about dominance of the area. There will be more members who will defend and stay guard to protect their territory and their group. On the other hand, a large group of animals will be in a disadvantage when it comes to feeding their group for they must hunt and kill more than other groups who are on an average number.

The same goes with the human race. An overpopulated community needs a lot of supply of basic necessities to support their existence. Basic needs like clean water, staple food, shelter and clothing are now posing a problem for some parts of the world. Lack of basic needs leads to starvation, chaos and deaths.

Our planet earth has limited resources and there will come a time when the whole world will be overpopulated and will need to ration all meager resources just to provide for the peoples existence.

For now, the situation is not yet overwhelming but the signs are already here for the past decade or so. We have the phenomenon of El Ni"o and La Ni"a, Global warming and famine on some parts of the world. These are the effects of overpopulation of humans. We are producing products which we need for our daily activities and this are done by factories and plants that emits dangerous chemicals, toxic wastes and some other forms of hazardous materials which contributes to the degradation of our planet.

Overpopulation is a world issue. This is threatening not only our planet and our lives but also our race and all the things here on earth. There should be a concrete plan to arrive at a concrete solution for this problem. Otherwise, we may start to count the time for our planet. Many people are now considering other planets or moons where the human race will start a new life and make a new earth. In any way, even if that dream will become a reality one thing is for sure. Humans will still overpopulate any place wherever our race will go.

Is overpopulation a world threat? Yes, it is a world threat.


You made no attempt to answer to my previous posts. You made no new arguments of your own. It would seem silly to repeat myself at length, so I will just distill it to the bare essentials:

- There are not too many humans, and there never will be. Population will cap at 9.2 billion and start falling.
- Fertility rates are going down in every country on earth except Kazakhstan.
- Fertility rates have fallen below replacement (2.1) in very many western countries and it will happen everywhere.
- Pollution is an issue of lawmaking, easily solvable. Factories do not generally pollute in the western world.
- More and more environmental regulation coming all the time.
- Everyone is eating better every decade, and will continue to do so. No impending famine.
- The world GDP is going up, everyone is getting richer and healthier.
- It is easy to adapt to global warming. It will mean more arable land and rain = more food.
Debate Round No. 3


Azeke forfeited this round.


I have nothing to add until I have something to respond to.
Debate Round No. 4


I have no arguments to against you. So, only now I understood that overpopulation is not a world threat. Thanks for debating!


Thank you, it was a pleasure :)
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Azeke 3 years ago
Overpopulation is a global threat in terms of humanitarian efforts and economy. There will be a struggle for food in the near future if the world gets too populated.
Posted by Antonym 3 years ago
I should have clarified, I am actually AGAINST the notion as presented in "Is overpopulation a world threat?". I had no choice :P
Posted by larztheloser 3 years ago
Con, are you sure you're not in favor of the resolution?
Posted by TheDevilsAdvocate 3 years ago
So is your resolution that overpopulation is a world threat?
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