As of 9:08 a.m. EST on October 28, 2008, the world population was estimated to be 6,733,122,678 and increasing every minute (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). Human population is very much an environmental concern and needs to be addressed in terms of sustainability strategies and solutions. The impacts of human overpopulation can be devastating and though they must be addressed at the local level, international cooperation will be needed.
Overpopulation is defined as the condition where the number of organisms exceeds the carrying capacity of its habitat (reference). This means that though overpopulation can be interpreted to mean ‘too many people' it not actually a function of size or density but of the ratio of population to its available sustainable resources. There are several factors that contribute to overpopulation. These include: an increase in births, a decrease in deaths, an increase in immigration into more developed areas, a decrease in emigration from more developed areas, and an unsustainable use of resources.
In the 18th century, Thomas Malthus examined the factors that limit population growth. He thought that as population increases, it puts pressure on the means of subsistence, throws it off balance and then the population collapses. Neo-Malthusians in the 1970s re-examined Malthus' theory and stated that population numbers will increase until it encounters critical resources limits and then the population will collapse. The problem with both of these theories is that the problem is much more complex and these theories do not take into account the social and historic context of population growth (Barrow, 1999).
Tiffen (1993) stated that as population increases, there is an increase in technological innovation. This results in the quality of life improving and an increase in environmental degradation. However, in developing countries, it is the struggle to maintain a standard of living that leads to environmental degradation. When a population is...