When it comes to population, less is certainly more.

It is no secret that earth’s population is increasing at rates that could never have been imagined a few hundred years ago. Overpopulation is a global problem that needs to be addressed immediately to prevent devastating consequences both for this generation and the next. With more than 7 billion people competing for the already scarce resources on the earth, and with no signs of this growth halting anytime soon, we face a crisis that could decide the fate of all mankind. Mother nature simply can’t keep up with the increasing demands of an ever-expanding population, and the sooner we realise the potential consequences of this, the brighter the future will be for our children and grandchildren.

To say overpopulation is at the heart of a large, varied number of environmental and social issues plaguing humanity would be an understatement. It is the root of major issues, from lower life expectancy to extinction of natural habitat, and from scarcity of resources to the loss of freshwater. These problems all stem from one basic fact – there are just too many people and too few resources to support all of them. While many argue that the unequal distribution of resources and careless usage of those resources are the real reasons behind these crises, the truth is that no matter how much water you save or how much electricity you conserve, the gap between the supply and demand is too large. Why? Lack of access to healthcare, lack of education and awareness, and poverty, especially in developing countries, creating a vicious cycle of environmental destruction, more poverty, and eventually death.

While it is true that efficient usage and conservation of the earth’s minerals and water will reduce the burden on them, this is just a short-term fix, not the definitive, long term solution mankind has been crying out for. China’s one child policy, though not quite immaculate in its execution, was a step in the right direction. Promoting awareness campaigns and educating the underprivileged about the ill effects of overpopulation can curb this alarming rise in population figures. Another important argument made by many is that population rates will eventually slow down and reach a point of equilibrium, allowing the human race to continue without increasing its overall numbers. What this fails to account for, though, is that even if our population rates stagnate, the amount of resources left for us to live on cannot. Scientists predict that in the not too distant future, possibly within the next 50 years, our coal and petroleum resources may be completely used up. Thus, it is imperative that, along with curbing overpopulation, we must find alternate sources of energy to help sustain ourselves, at least for the foreseeable future.

If no action is taken – by governments, organisations and the people themselves –  overpopulation can, and will, have disastrous consequences. It threatens to undermine all the extraordinary progress that mankind has made over millions of years.  The earth needs us, and humans need the earth, to build on the strong foundations laid by our ancestors and scale new peaks. 

Overcrowded trains prepare to leave for the city after Akheri Munajat, the final supplication during Biswa Ijtema in Tongi, on the outskirts of Dhaka