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home > points of view > issues > overpopulation
There are too many people in the world, including what is called the 'developed 'part of it.
Overpopulaton is a problem
The human population problem began around 1800, at the same time when Malthus described it. The principle idea is simple: the earth is a finite system, whereas population growth is non-finite. If unchecked, it goes on and on, until it has destroyed its environment and consequently itself. This has occurred among many species.
Before 1800 population growth was never a serious or global problem for humans. When populations grew there was always enough room in the world. Emigration continued throughout the nineteenth century and beyond, and social and medical conditions improved until all the world became more and more populated. The consequences of overpopulation have become clear to many people for many years now. The difficulty is the fact that population control so far has had to work through families. The family planning programmes have on the whole been successful over the past fifty or more years in reducing family size, but they have stopped short of tackling the fundamental problems, e.g. the right to reproduce and to form a family, which are the strongholds of the sexual structure.
Overpopulation is denied in the western world
The present attitude to the world's population problem is unsatisfactory. On the one hand, it is denied that the West is overpopulated. In fact, the fear is expressed that Western civilization will die out as a result of the decreasing number of babies per woman and the late age at which they become pregnant. Most European countries now have an average of less than 2.1 children per woman, the so-called replacement rate. Thus, population numbers will grow less and in 50 years or so will start to decline. It is a rather primitive reaction to talk about 'dying out' on the basis of these figures. Meanwhile, our roads continue to be clogged with cars, the amount of fresh air and water and open space decreases.
Overpopulation and the sexual system
On the other hand, everybody in the West agrees that overpopulation is a typical third world problem. Poor countries indeed find it impossible to develop in the face of the large numbers of children that have to be fed, housed, schooled, etc. but in terms of energy consumption it is the rich countries who deplete the earth the most.
The core of the problem of overpopulation to be solved is the character of human reproduction. Only by changing the sexual system can we hope to evolve beyond the present course of destruction, which is everywhere to continue following the blind reproductive imperative, looking only for technical, short term and profitable 'solutions'. (see Future)
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