If you are reading this article on November 15 – congratulations! You are witnessing an important milestone in human development. The United Nations has estimated that on this day in 2022, the world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion people. This growth has happened at a very fast pace considering that just a little more than 200 years ago, the global population was 1 billion. We asked several DevelopmentAid experts to share their opinions relating to the advantages and drawbacks of the world population hitting 8 billion. Check out their comments below.
What are some advantages and disadvantages of a larger human population?
“Congratulations to the world on reaching this milestone of 8 billion inhabitants. For my insights, I want to use a lens where I see this growth in a positive light. To me, the more, the merrier. It translates to a rich diversity of culture, enhanced opportunities for technological advancement and it provides an opportunity to focus on rising living standards for all. I see more scope for invention, innovation and social entrepreneurship. On the flip side, I see a need to control the depletion of natural resources and to minimize pollution as these are a downside to the increased population. In essence, we the people need to come up with creative ways to live more in harmony with ourselves and nature. In going forward, we need more responsible leadership with a collective purpose to mitigate against the economic imbalances around the world that contribute to the geographic disparity of population growth. In my view, it could be as simple as being one another’s keeper.”
“The advantages of the increasing human population will lead to economic growth with more people able to produce more goods. It will lead to higher tax revenues which can be spent on public goods such as health care and environmental projects. Another advantage will be the immense increase in the availability of cheap labor. It could also lead to the formation of a vast market hence attracting more investors who would like to invest in a country with a large population. It does motivate populations to innovate. The increasing population pressurizes society to innovate and to better serve the people. Some of the disadvantages will be the pressure mounted on the meager resources that are available for the few people and more pressure being exerted on the environment and the people, leading negatively to cases of food shortages due to increased competition for scarce resources.”
“Among the advantages, I would list more people leads to greater human capital. If there are more people, the probability of finding a genius like Einstein, Marie Curie, and Beethoven increases. The problem remains spotting her or him and offering the resources needed to grow. Another advantage is higher economic growth. Population growth can lead to economic growth with more people able to produce more goods. And last, but not least, economies of scale. Farming and industry have been able to benefit from economies of scale which means that, as the population grows, food output and manufacturing output have been able to grow even faster than population growth. To mention some disadvantages: the cost to the environment – trying to reduce carbon and methane emissions to reduce global warming is relatively more difficult as the population grows. Another disadvantage is congestion – too many people in a small space will lead to various types of congestion.”
“Positive trends: this rapid population growth reflects advances in health and medicine. Let’s not forget the continued high birth rate in many countries. In addition to encouraging rapid population growth, high fertility rates lead to a relatively young age distribution in the world. Challenges: rapid population growth threatens progress in social and economic development by requiring ever-greater resources to meet the needs of a growing number of people. Can Europe, America, and industrial Asia cope with it? Overpopulation must be seen in the context of resources. Protein and plant food production have increased over the past half-century. While humanity is coping with food, resources such as clean water are certainly a concern.”
“We call the demographic transition as historically gradual developments from high fertility and high mortality conditions to low mortality conditions and then low fertility conditions. Positive developments in modernization, urbanization, health, and hygiene conditions have led to serious decreases in mortality rates and the prolongation of life expectancy at birth. Thus, we can say that there has been an acceleration in population growth as we have survived much longer than in the past. However, the preferences for the decrease in the fertility level developed by human beings in response to these more favorable living conditions show a slower transformation. Therefore, there are significant differences between countries and continents, some of them are ahead while others lag behind. The transformation continues and we can foresee that it will continue all over the world. In addition, it is certain that “migration”, the quickest demographic response, will continue to transform our world in terms of regional diversification. In other words, it is necessary to see population growth as a result, not a cause, and to plan the future together and for all of us. Instead of comparing countries by income level alone, all common problems and issues should be addressed together, with a greater focus on development. From waste management to access to health services, gender equality, better housing/shelter for all, sustainable cities and rural areas, protection of ecological life, safe food, clean energy, quality education and transportation all interact. Issues such as intergenerational support systems and aging societies are more prominent.”
“The crossing of the 8 billion mark is the result of a particularly high fertility rate in the so-called “poor” countries in general, and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. Moreover, it occurs in a global context, where the challenges are as diverse as they are exacerbated: environmental and climatic challenges, security challenges, health challenges and the humanitarian disasters that accompany them. This assessment of the world’s population, beyond its “dizzying” threshold, challenges our humanity. All the contemporary challenges we face are created and maintained by disastrous anthropic factors: bad governance at the international and local levels, the primacy of capital over human beings and/or nature. With solidarity, love of neighbor, and the promotion of human being without any hypocrisy, we could make the earth a paradisiacal place.”
“As much as we tend to focus on the negative, the world has made vast progress in many areas in the last century. Even in Africa, there have been areas of development including some reductions in mortality and poverty, and a relative development of housing and urbanization, leading to overall increases in living standards and life expectancy. However, it’s also true there are many inequalities in these indicators, as well as access to services, un[der]employment, and quality of life. Finally, there is still conflict and natural disasters due to climate change which we need to address. Individually, the bad mix of sedentarism, inappropriate feeding, mental ill-health and insufficient sleep and rest are counteracting progress in the quality of life and longevity. Let’s confront these problems responsibly and positively for a better future on this planet!”
“Our planet has plenty of resources. It is rich but under poor management. There are also incredibly rich societal groups who could contribute more to the betterment of the planet from many many points of view. We can only hope that people in developed countries will use their money wisely to protect the environment, educate their kids to love instead of hate, be more altruistic and prosocial and plant more trees. A change in consciousness in one person can bring a change in consciousness in those around them. More education in developing countries can also bring more awareness around cost-effective behaviors including how many babies two parents can support.”
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