As the world’s population grows, the world’s problems seem to be growing right along with it. Many of these problems were poorly understood in the past. Few people could have predicted the problem of agricultural emissions, for instance.
Growing enough food for a burgeoning population is becoming increasingly difficult. Fewer researchers have commented on what resource consumption to produce that food is doing to the world’s environment. Moreover, there is a theoretical limit to the amount of food that can be produced. The world may very well reach a peak population before it finally begins to level off.
Another major issue comes from the total amount of human waste produced at any given time. Humans consume oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Sewage is a major issue. In fact, many researchers have predicted that wars will soon be fought over access to clean drinking water and other basic necessities.
Many systems of controlling the population have failed. However, it’s interesting to note that many wealthy nations have aging populations. Falling birthrates are actually a major problem in some of the world’s richest countries. While the population continues to boom in newly industrialized powers as well as the third world, nations that have had massive economies for a long time are aging rapidly. We’re seeing this in the U.S. right now.
As smaller nations become wealthier, they are less likely to become overpopulated. People living in an industrialized society are less pressured to have large numbers of children. Moreover, the stress of having other obligations limits their amount of time to develop massive families. While unnatural methods have seemingly failed to control the spiraling populations of third world countries, economic development and technology may do it organically.
Other mitigation efforts are starting to be discussed as well. While extraterrestrial migration has long been seen as science fiction, it’s a realistic proposal. Space colonies and terraforming techniques are genuinely within the realm of possibilities…if we can only get started! That means that people might be living amongst the stars much sooner than anyone may have thought. Until then, however, more drastic control methods will remain in place. Most of these, with the exception of economic development, are highly undesirable.
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