Human OverpopulationThe more people there are the more animals are abused. In 1798 the Englishman Thomas Malthus published An Essay On the Principle of Population expressing apprehension about human population growth. He pointed out that the human population grows more quickly than food production can match and was already overtaking its food supply. He predicted environmental degradation leading to massive famine, disease and war. Malthus was writing in response to the optimism of the Enlightenment that humanity can tame nature and human potential is boundless.
The disaster Malthus anticipated did not happen, agricultural and industrial revolutions saw to that. But the spectre of Malthus is still with us. His warning is even more applicable today and is on a worldwide scale. Earth's growing human population is ever increasing its use of resources. Estimates are that humans already use over half the world's accessible fresh surface water and have changed or degraded up to half Earth's land surface through agriculture and urban building. By 2030 there could be one billion cars - 100 million of them in China alone - choking Earth's atmosphere and considerably contributing to global warming.
The human population reached 0.3 billion in year 0 (two thousand years ago). Then it took 1,800 years to reach its first billion. Now a billion people are born every few years - see Table 1.
Source: The World at Six Billion. United Nations Population Division.
At the present rate of human increase, three babies are added to Earth every second, making a quarter of a million more people each day or 80 million more people annually. Over half (about 60 per cent) of humanity lives in just ten countries - see Table 2.
Source: The World at Six Billion. Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations.
Human numbers at the current rate of expansion might reach 300 billion in 150 years. However, Earth's resources cannot sustain anything near this number of people and humanity would die off well before achieving this mass. Disease, starvation, wars for diminishing resources and breakdown of societies would consume humanity first. Fortunately, for some of the world's people, influences like family planning, modern contraception, education and prosperity create a desire to bear fewer children; consequently Earth's human population growth is slowing (although this is also due in part to afflictions like AIDS).
Overpopulation & AnimalsHuman overpopulation destroys wildlife and imposes suffering on animals.
Ever more people deplete much needed resources that would have gone to wildlife. For example, consortiums log forests to make anything from pencils to wooden buildings. They turn out the animals in the forests and with nowhere to go die off.
Another basic resource is water. Fresh water is becoming scarce in more parts of the world as people increasingly channel it off for agriculture, industry, leisure and domestic use.
Billions of more humans mean people kill billions of more animals (livestock and wild). As the human population expands worldwide meat consumption has increased three and a half times in the last four decades, from about 70 million tonnes to nearly 250 million tonnes a year (see Meat Statistics).
A massive human population goes against animals gaining rights. Human populations have always sought their own short-term short-sighted advantage and show little sign of sharing Earth's ecosphere equitably. Sources say that as the human population grows, one or more species goes extinct every 20 minutes.