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Over the course of the last 200 years; humanity has seen a population jump unseen before. This population leap has brought with it its worries and concerns throughout the years.
To have a good perspective on the problem we must first understand the background. The story starts in 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus writes a 58-page essay talking about overpopulation. In this essay, he predicted that the world population would keep growing, and would only be reversed by diseases orand other natural effects. At the time, it was a success but wasn’t backed by too much evidence. Two hundred years later, in the mid to late 1960s, his ideas saw the second rise in popularity, but this time, the data was on his side. Immediately, scientists across the world sought to verify his theory with his evidence and many agreed with the results he had predicted; a population boom that would surpass numbers ever imagined. In the thousands of years that mankind had lived, such a human population was never achieved and never at this pace. What worried Robert Malthus and these scientists wasn’t the number of people itself but rather the effects and demands of these people.
The thing is, people tend to love living. They tend to like to have food to eat, water to drink, a place to live and every other basic need. According to the paper Malthus wrote, there would not be enough for everyone; the rapid boom in population would be too fast for the food production industry to follow and different states would rush in to grab enough for them to survive. This competition wouldn’t stop there as the food is not the only resource needed. In short, this would mean every needed resource would have a competition and war would likely follow (leading to a state of calamity). Because of the insufficient amount of resources, it would be likely that people would die and that number was estimated to be in the millions. All the evidence above was believed for a long time until the 21st century brought with it a new way of thinking and a new way of life that changed the game.
When the 21st century rolled out, people got a new view of the problem and saw that overpopulation was not going to be as bad as previously thought. For starters, from the late 19th to the early 20th century, birth rates plummeted. Because fewer babies were being born, this first meant that the predicted amount of total people would decrease which could mean less harsh competition because of less demand etc. This happened because of new methods of birth control other than older ones and, because it is new it wasn’t considered in the past studies. Since the situation previously thought about is not gonna happen, then what is? Although scientists agree that there will not be something as dreadful as previously believed, they still believe that the approximate peak of 11 billion people will provide some challenges. One of those challenges will be water security. According to Live Science, “2.7 billion people currently face 2.7 billion people around the world face some water shortage in their daily lives.” (Live Science Staff). The increase in population will mean an increase in water demand and that number might go up. The good thing is that scientists are already finding ways to get more water accessible to people. One of these ways is the desalination of seawater so that it can be put through to people.
A second challenge will be the animal population on Earth. The 11 billion people will mean more space needed for housing and this space will most likely come from the urbanization of animal habitats. These animals that will be killed will not only remove from nature its beauty but will also prevent future generations from having access to those animals which might have negative impacts. For example, “medicinal quality of fish is harnessed to prevent and cure heart disease, arthritis, asthma and various other ailments, thereby, maintaining an overall health for humans” (IOSR Journal) This means that the extinction of fish could stop companies from manufacturing medicine or treatments for patients. Fortunately, a way that we could still preserve many species would be to protect certain spaces of high environmental diversity which would help in the repopulation of those species after the peak.
Thanks to all this research, we now have a clearer understanding of overpopulation and can see that overpopulation as previously thought of will not happen but the increase in population will also bring its own challenges that humanity will have to resolve to continue forward.
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