The Overpopulation Myth
At this moment we are 7,526,734,269 humans on earth.
In the year 2100 we could be 12,000,000,000.
What does that mean for our future– where will this development lead to?
People worry... Will streams of refugees search for shelter? Will pollution caused by millions of people ruin our planet? Will crime take over when resources run out? Is our future going to be total chaos?
Will population growth be the end to life as we know it?
Opinary: Are you afraid of overpopulation? Yes, I think our planet will be overcrowded No, I’m sure we will be able to handle a growing population
Imagine: population growth is slowing down already and will stop altogether. To understand how that’s possible we have to look at where the growth is coming from. High growth rates are not unusual. The whole world is going through a 4-stage process of different birth and death rates and a resulting population growth. This pattern of development is called
The Demographic Transition
Each country goes through this transition– most developed countries have made it through already, while other countries are doing it right now. Let’s take a look at the past: In the 18th century Britain was facing bad living conditions– people had many children, but many died just as fast. As the Industrial revolution unfolded, better living conditions led to less deaths –this resulted in a population explosion. After a while, people decided to have less children because more were likely to survive– growth slowed down. This did not only happen in Britain, it happened in all developed countries.
Stages of Demographic Transition
The global average of children The number of children per women has halved globally since the 1960s as a result: from 5 children per woman down to 2.5 in 2015. But if birth rates dropped so much, why is the population still growing?
Depending on which stage of the Demographic Transition a country is in, their birth rate differs massively. In some countries women give birth to up to 4.7 6 children on average.
Child mortality rate
One of the main reasons for this is that child mortality rates are still too high there– only having many children will make sure some of them survive.
Connection between child mortality and fertility rates
The transition of these countries depends on lowering the child mortality rate– that’s why programs focusing on the development of a country have a major influence here.
Countries without good health care have high death rates, especially in children. Most of these death could be prevented by simple interventions like vaccinations against common childhood diseases.
Over one third of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition. If malnutrition occurs during pregnancy, or before two years of age, it can cause permanent problems with physical and mental development in children.
All women need access to contraception to decide how many children they want to have– but also the knowledge how pregnancies can be planned and spaced safely.
Schooling is a driver of development, above all when it reaches girls: educated women have less children on average and are more likely to strive for a career.
Important aspects of development programs
Opinary: Do you think there is enough global support for development? Yes, I think there are enough support programs running right now No, I think there should be more awareness and funding for global development
Developing countries are catching up fast... Progress is already visible: The United Kingdom needed 105 years to make the transition back in the days. Bangladesh did it in only 45 years.
Example Development of Bangladesh
Conclusion - So yes, population will grow – but not for much longer. The past has shown us that problems like child mortality development problems can be solved, so developing countries don’t have to start from scratch. And the more we consider better living conditions a global project, the faster progress will be. Soon countries who used to be in need will help advance development instead and population growth will come to an end. Aiming for this goal means more people get to live a good life today– but it will also help to make sure we all can in the future.
Opinary: Are you still afraid of overpopulation? How do you feel about overpopulation now? Yes, I’m not convinced we’re up for the challenge No, I am reassured now that population growth will come into balance
This interactive onepager was realized as a joint project of Kurzgesagt (Content & Design) and Moby Digg (Animation & Development), with friendly support from the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation, Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung and Opinary.
If you want to learn more about the Overpopulation myth, Kurzgesagt also did a video on the topic. This video was made in cooperation with Our World In Data, an excellent source of information on this and many other topics.
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