Simon Leufstedt

Which is the real problem: Overconsumption or overpopulation?

We have had our disagreements to the answer to this question before Simon, but perhaps we're not that far from each other. I would say that the biggest problem is overconsumption. Wasteful nature is dangerous and it is something we must always be mindful of. But that does not mean that I think overpopulation isn't a problem, I think it's almost as big a problem as overconsumption. You could even view it as a certain type of overconsumption. There's a parallel between using more resources than what is sustainable, and having more people than the resources that we have can sustain. I believe we face both problems. There is some truth in the following from the second article:

Even if we were to get a zero population growth around the world it wouldn’t help us against the climate crisis.

I think it would help us, even a lot, but not enough on it's own. But let's imagine the opposite case:

"All consumption is spread equally to all people on the planet; no one consumes more than anyone else."

The carbon emission, the waste, the other types of pollution and so forth would still continue, simply because in the above statement, the population hasn't stopped growing. Even if we add that the consumption growth is zero, the ecological footprint is already too great. And I can't for the life of me see how we can keep the consumption growth at zero, when the population still grows and grows. You might say that if the population grows no further, then it is the consumption rate that we should focus on. I can agree with that. But first the population has to stop growing. As it is now, we have to deal with both issues. We just can't blame it all on overconsumption. My reply to the thread can be summed up as this:

Overpopulation is not the biggest problem compared to overconsumption, but it is almost as big.

From a legislative or liberal point of view it is also much harder to tell people to have less kids, than to tell them to waste less. It's such a personal issue, and most people will say that it's no one else's business whether they have 2 children or 10. Especially not if they live in a rich country and don't see starvation all around them. I would hate to see something like the one-child policy in China become the norm in the rest of the world, and that's why I always urge people not to take lightly the problem of overpopulation. It might not be a problem now, but whether or not it will become a problem for our children or grandchildren will depend on how we address the problem now.

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I think that overpopulation is worse than overconsumption. I am saying that because overpopulation is what causes the overconsumpion. The more we are the more we consume... ;)

mauricioq likes this

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I think over population is a bigger problem since the world is over populated in most places. Resources such as food are not equally available or spread and therefore there are some countries that do not have resources to consume while others (usually the rich countries) have resources to waste. I had read before that there is no scarcity of food, there are just lots of wasted foods that if just given to those who needs it rather than it is wasted, no one will be hungry.

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i think the real problem is over population, the more we are the more we consume, the food is running low, and we just keep extending our cities in to the wild killing everything, maybe is evolution or maybe is just stupid we'll find out in 500years or so.

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In my opinion, over population is the cause of over comsumption. Of course mouths need food to eat, bodies need clothes to wear and also shelter. My thoughts on this is to recycle and economize our usage of things so others can still make use of it. Like for example water, if we can use pails instead of taking a shower, why not. If we can turn off taps while brushing and use glass then that would be a great deal of help. Just my thoughts. :)

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I agree to most of the comments here. Overpopulation is what's causing all our major problems all over the world. Because of too many residents, garbage and other waste materials are more likely to be uncontrolled. In our country, the most crowded areas are the dirtiest. Energy consumption is at the highest demand due to the large number of users all over the world which is one of the major causes of global warming.

If we could just control the population then maybe we will lessen the pollution and other problems here on Earth. I for one, liked to have just 2 kids. Having more means additional population and more necessities and i want my kids to have a good life that they deserve.

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I would actually say overconsumption trumps overpopulation in a lot of ways.

The population of a country doesn't always have much of a bearing on how much energy they waste. Take the US for example. Compared to many countries, we have a pretty even ratio of people/population to land area. Yet, we waste so much of the world's natural resources. As a whole, our countries carbon footprint is astronomical, and unlike some European countries we seem not to care much about trying to find alternative energy sources. There's a statistic I've heard many times that only 20% of earth's population use up 80% of the resources, and I definitely think that's true.

On the other hand overpopulation can and will to some extent always be a less controllable factor. The larger a country's population, the more resources they'll use up, even if they keep their use at a low borderline.

I think in the end that education is the best tool for everything. Educating about the dangers of overpopulation, proper birth control methods, how to reduce resource use and waste. And especially drive home the point about the future effects and how such things could effect one's children or grandchildren. I feel that people are more likely to listen to what you say if you remind them that their actions now have very far reaching implications.

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I don't believe it is either. I think the problem is over regulation by organizations such as the FDA. There is enough food and enough functioning farms to bring food to every man, woman, and child on this planet. It's about proper distribution, proper farming, and a lot less greed by organizations, government, and companies.

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MMMM China controls their population with the 1 baby policy but now its turning against them, all aging together not good.

If population could be controlled and organized we still have over consumption through greed by the wealthy.

Its controlling the population and spreading the resources and wealth to the whole population of Earth living together sharing as one race is that possible or a dream. <_< I guess we will never know so spread as much love and happiness as you go don't look back only forward. :wub:

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Overpopulation causes overconsumption. It does not matter where you live. Either you cannot find enough to eat or you have to pay too much for certain foodstuffs. This world is simply to small to feed 6.8 billion souls.

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I think that overpopulation is worse than overconsumption. I am saying that because overpopulation is what causes the overconsumpion. The more we are the more we consume... ;)

Many here seem to hold this opinion. That its the number of people in a country that decides how much it consumes and waste.

I would say that this is wrong.

Why? Just take the USA and greenhouse gas emissions as an example here. The US emits around 25% of the global total of greenhouse gases. But the country only has 4,5% of global population.

Lets take another example. The 35 least developed nations in the world emits less than 1% of the global total of greenhouse gases. But together they account for over 10% of the world's population.

Not satisfied? Well, lets use China (the world’s biggest polluter) and compare it with the USA. That would make it a bit more fair, don't you think? In 2008 they took the number one spot in greenhouse gas pollution from the USA. But China, still considered a developing nation, has more than 20% of the world's total population and they pretty much produces all the gadgets, clothes and other products that we, in the western world, consume. Just consider the greenhouse gas emissions that is being generated from being the world’s top manufacturing country! But if you compare China's greenhouse gas emissions with USA on a per capita basic you get completely different result. China still have a much lower per capita levels of pollution compared to USA. USA’s per capita levels are around five to six times higher than China’s.

I agree to most of the comments here. Overpopulation is what's causing all our major problems all over the world. Because of too many residents, garbage and other waste materials are more likely to be uncontrolled. In our country, the most crowded areas are the dirtiest. Energy consumption is at the highest demand due to the large number of users all over the world which is one of the major causes of global warming.

Well if an area in a city is dirty and there is a massive amount of trash lying around doesn't necessarily equal the inhabitants as the worst environmental offenders. A study was made in Sweden a year or two ago where they investigated a poor and dirty neighborhood with a much richer but more clean neighborhood. The results showed that the inhabitants in the rich area had a much higher ecological footprint, higher CO2 emissions and they generated a much higher amount of trash. The difference was that their trash was cleaned up and taken away to another area (most likely taken close to the poor people's area). They also could afford to drive around in expensive but gas-guzzling cars, buy expensive meat and exotic food with a high CO2 footprint and so on.

If we could just control the population then maybe we will lessen the pollution and other problems here on Earth. I for one, liked to have just 2 kids. Having more means additional population and more necessities and i want my kids to have a good life that they deserve.

This might be a bit too personal. But may I ask if you would consider adopting instead of giving birth to two children?

Esperahol likes this

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I think the problem is over-consumption. The fact is the vast majority of the money in the world is in the hands of the minority. If money was split more equally, the world would be able to support 10 times the population it has at the moment and poverty will be much less prevalent.

Saying that, inequality of wealth is only one of the problems facing the world today.

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It would have to be overcomsumption of course. A large population does not necessarily lead to a consumption of all available resources. In fact large, poor populations tend to reuse, reclaim, and recycle items far more often then smaller, richer populations.

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Neither. The problem is a system based on production for profit. Over-population is not a problem because the world is not over-populated but densely populated in cities, this could be overcome with rational planning. We need to plan production rationally, it's as simple as that.

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Both. Over population it's hard to control, but overconsumption we can still change habits and consumer behaviour which would be easier to control in my view.

Edited by simonleuf
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Our wonderful planet was built to support life on a grand scale. It was meant to be inhabitted so overpopulation is not the problem. and sure over consumption is a great problem. But worse than that is the waste not from overbuying or in just our homes. the real problem is greed. the governments allow tons and tons of food and other sustainable to just perish or rott because they are unwilling to sell it at a lower price or give it away when needed. the real problem is love of money and not thinking long and hard about how what you do affects others. this planet produces enough food for everyone we just need to use it and not waste it.

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For me, overpopulation comes first then followed by overconsumption. The latter won't be experienced if it's not overpopulated. We experience shortage when it's overpopulated so the demand gets high but the sources gets low. So it goes hand in hand, hence; both of these are real problems. It's like a domino affect.

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I think that overpopulation is worse than overconsumption. I am saying that because overpopulation is what causes the overconsumpion. The more we are the more we consume... wink.png

 That's exactly what I was going to say. One is influenced by the other, if we could stop the overpopulation, the other one would be solved as well. Now actually stopping it is a whole different story...

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I think overconsumption is the bigger issue. As previous posters have pointed out, it is the wealthy and developed nations of the world contributing the most to many global ecological crises, not the rapidly growing nations of the developing world. The "disposable" cultural practices we live with here in the USA cause ecological damage on a far greater scale than our population alone would suggest, and the world cannot support even a fraction of its current population if this is the standard of living to which the world aspires. 

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I agree that the two go hand-in-hand. But I would add the term "Mass consumerism" to the term "Overconsumption". Mass consumerism is what drives us to produce more, more, more. I was raised to be a consumer, and to worship whatever was being advertised in print, on TV, on the radio, and in movies. When the economy in the U.S. took a dive a few years ago, we were told we needed to be out in the marketplace as good little consumers, if we wanted to bring our economy back around. We wouldn't be producing so many noxious gases and wasting so many precious natural resources, if we did not inherently believe it was our inalienable right to own the latest technology, the biggest SUV, the largest McMansion, the trendiest fashions, etc. etc.

 

 

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