Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A bit-too-overcrowded world

After taking a little break from writing stuff for my blog (I apologize for my sudden and momentary disappearance), I come back home and read the newspapers to get an update about the world. Then I find a note that calls out my attention on The Globe and Mail. It claims that the poorest countries in the world have the highest rates of population growth. According to the note, at the present time there is a total global population of 6.7 billion people, from which 1.2 billion (18%) live in developed countries (as defined by the United Nations), while the remaining 5.5 billion (82%) live in the so-called developing regions. Now, is that really news?.

There is nothing in that note that we, as a global civilization, didn't know yet. I have never done any formal research about the correlation between education level, income per capita, and population growth, yet to me it was quite evident that it existed. Maybe it was just a feeling I had, or maybe it was a concern that everybody else noted, but just a few saw that as a concern. This phenomenon, of course, contributes greatly to the mother of all of our major problems on Earth: Overpopulation. Thomas Robert Malthus, the famous economist and demographer, got it right in his work An Essay on the Principle of Population: From any perspective that we want to analyze this issue, we can find that overpopulation contributes to the generation of different problems we currently face in many ways, in different parts of the world.

For instance (please note that the following thoughts come from my own rationale, and not necessarily based on Malthus' works), if we analyze the situation from an economical perspective, it won't be very difficult to discover that overpopulation means scarcer resources for larger populations, ultimately resulting in uneven distribution of wealth. Such uneven distribution of wealth contributes to the widening of the gap between rich and poor, meaning that less people will have access to basic products and services (such as food, education, house, and so on). In turn, the impossibility to satisfy basic needs will create clusters of low skilled, uneducated, and needy people. As a consequence, these people will generally have access to low-paid jobs, and as a result of their poor education background, will potentially also have a poor family planning, resulting in large families being supported with low, insufficient incomes. This situation will bring social unhappiness and socioeconomic exclusion, which may in turn derive in some other different scenarios: immigration (frequently as illegal aliens), crime, diseases (as a result of inadequate sanitary conditions), etc. Then, the new generations face similar socioeconomic problems as their parents did, ultimately resulting in a vicious, never ending cycle.

Without overpopulation problems, it would be much easier to provide individuals with the necessary products and services to live a decent life. But I have seldom seen governments addressing this urgent issue (the Chinese government being the most notable exception). Moreover, the problem seems to be transferred to developed nations with good population planning practices in place, as in fact it becomes their responsibility to help regions where populations keep growing exponentially, and where social and economic problems arise on a daily basis.

Needless to say, I believe it is important to help those nations with people suffering all the problems I've described in this note. But it is equally important that those nations put in place regulations to guarantee that their populations don't grow at almost astronomical rates, just as the Chinese did with their one-child policy. Otherwise, our social issues worldwide will keep growing, while developed economies will keep providing short-term remedies to long-term concerns. I know, it does sound harsh, but I am convinced that controlling the population growth rates with strict regulations and sanctions will be the most effective and humane way to gradually reduce this problem, so all humans can enjoy decent lives in generations to come.


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