A fierce debate rages between people who believe our planet is overpopulated, and people who think it is not.
For our first two hundred thousand years, our species depended upon procreation for survival. With the advent of agriculture, imposed hierarchy, and city states, we found even more safety in family and tribal units.
The first billion people arrived near the end of that two hundred-thousand-year mark. The second billion people arrived just 100 years later. And we’re still growing in numbers, currently at more than seven and one half billion mouths to feed.
Will the population bomb explode or not?
Most projections agree that population may well grow to ten billion by 2050. For those who say that’s okay, they often contend that food production and innovation will meet the need. They see, correctly, that it’s not a lack of space, or technical inability to feel more mouths, but merely a food distribution problem. We throw away enough food to feed everyone, and most of the Earth’s surface is still empty.
They also point to the fact, also true, that in every nation that has economic opportunity and race, and gender equality (or approaches it) has a falling birthrate.
Nevertheless, as any visitor to locations all over the world will attest, the human experience is that many places especially cities, are insanely overcrowded. As sea rise and climate crisis drought drive more people to these cities, the crowding increases each day. As I write this, much of Venice is under water. It was once a place of fantastic, affordable tourism. Now it’s a burden to most who live there. Overcrowding, of course, is just part of the problem, but Venice is a microcosm of many, many low lying cities from which people must now relocate.
People are dying of poor quality in Delhi. A billion people starve, or, also pressed by overcrowding, have little access to clean water. Conflict also arises with these stresses.
If you have tried to navigate streets in Tokyo, Bangkok, Manila, or Rio, you feel the full weight of crushing humanity. Then there is the garbage we generate.