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YARNLADY's avatar

What is 'overpopulation' anyway?

Asked by YARNLADY (39517 points ) June 18th, 2009

It is based on pure numbers? Is it based on food supply? What other factors are involved?

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15 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

Great book that talks about overpopulation myths and how they are used to harm people of color, particularly Native American People (also in relation to sexual violence) is: Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide by Andrea Smith. There are a couple chapters on this topic in the middle of the book.

I’ll add this:
1. The Numbers Equate More with Population Stabilization than Overpopulation by National Center for Policy Analysis

Ivan's avatar

It’s based on the amount of land needed to support the population. If more land is needed to support the population than there is on Earth, then the planet is overpopulated.

susanc's avatar

Or, sorry to be nasty: people who have easy lives feel threatened by
increasing prosperity among the very poor. These materially wealthy/materially
oriented people cry “overpopulation” as they see their supplies threatened by the growth of other communities, and they begin funding family-planning – read “sterilization” – programs for “persons less fortunate than themselves”.

To be fair, people who base their values on material stuff tend to voluntarily limit the number of children they have themselves.

YARNLADY's avatar

@susanc No need to apologize, it’s a valid point.

tinyfaery's avatar

When the enviornment can no longer sustain life, due to consumption, an area is overpopulated. When all the reosurces have been used up or are drying up, and there are still people trying to squeeze a watermelon through a keyhole, there is over population.

I don’t think this is at all about politics or hording resources. It is about ecology and preserving the natural resources we have left, no matter who has access to them.

Urban's avatar

overpopulation is the only problem the world faces. everything can be traced to it, famine, caste creations, disease, war, global warming….

to give it a basic general description would be a slap in the face to this behemoth of a problem, not to mention impossible since without detail, you couldn’t describe the problem. i won’t get into the details of what it is, but i will mention why it’s a problem— no on wants to be told they can only have x amount of children. it’s MUCH to difficult to adopt domestically and MUCH easier to have a biological baby. this alone puts immense pressures on society’s economic structure. then there are the religious factions who believe “god” wants them to have babies and so we find people with 8+ kids who end up being a burden of the country financially

but the real problem is that no world leaders address the issue. bush actually cut off millions of dollars of funding that provided family planning and birth control education to impoverished countries. obama recently reinstated it, but again, no one has dared to make a law stating you can only have x number of kids per x number of years. that would destroy the “freedom” in the country, which is ironically imprisoning us.

i’ve written so many papers on this, it’s ridiculous! i sent them to world groups, senators, congress, etc… no on responds. lame. i’m hoping a large war comes on soon to halve our numbers. i’ve kind of gotten way off the subject so i’ll just stop.

LostInParadise's avatar

Overpopulation does not just apply to humans. It is a general biological concept. Whenever the resources available to a population is insufficient for its size and the population is forced to decrease then there is overpopulation. In many species a population will go through cycles, going over its limit and then being forced to reduce its size. The total human population has not reached that point, but the conjecture is that we soon may if we don’t take measures to stablilze before we get to that point.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Urban or flu epidemic

Most of the answers so far seem to focus on the economic and environmental resources, but I found the conclusions of scientific experiements of the 1960’s to be particularly interesting. Their models predicted the rise in mass murders, infantcide, what we now call “going postal”, and the increase in same sex relationships.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t understand why people use the term “overpopulation myth”? How can we call it a myth if it hasn’t even happened yet? It’s something that could happen, especially if the population growth rate continues to be the same.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DominicX A myth can be a story about what is going to happen as well as a story about what once happened.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DominicX Well I said Overpopluation Myths because there are a lot of myths that are told in regards to overpopluation. Here are a couple definitions of myth that apply:

- an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.
– any invented story, idea, or concept
– A popular belief or story that has become associated with a person, institution, or occurrence, especially one considered to illustrate a cultural ideal
– A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology.

And according to the numbers (see link above) the population growth is stabilizing which is great news.

mattbrowne's avatar

Overpopulation changes ecosystems faster than the overall average recorded in the past.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m sure every person who concerns themselves with this has a different way of calculating it. However, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with worldwide food production capability, and calories needed per person. If they had a sophisticated model, they might also include transportation issues and energy consumption.

It’s all pretty speculative. It is extremely difficult to predict the future more than five or ten years in the future. Trends almost always change in unexpected ways.

I’m not too worried. The earth will take care of itself. There may be vast human die-offs, but the only entities that really care about us are ourselves.

Anon_Jihad's avatar

Of course they’re all myths. We’ll just keep building up like Coruscant.

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