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Rapid Population Growth: Consequences & Prevention Methods

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  • 0:00 Growing Too Fast
  • 0:40 Too Little Food
  • 1:45 Too Few Resources
  • 2:55 State Methods to…
  • 4:00 Natural Methods to…
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

In a few decades, the population of the world has more than quadrupled. In this lesson, we will look at the consequences of such growth, as well as ways of preventing those consequences from occurring.

Growing Too Fast

There is no doubt that the population of the world is growing very rapidly. A few decades ago, there were barely two billion people on the planet. Within a few short years, the world's population will reach eight billion, while countries like India and China deal with having more than a billion residents each. Instability in global food supplies, pollution, and a lack of resources have also increased over that time period, and there are concerns that those issues are not getting any better.

Luckily, both states and natural forces are able to slow population growth. But as we'll see, it's better for all involved to avoid some of the natural forces that restrict population growth.

Too Little Food

One of the most common fears about overpopulation is running out of food. After all, you can't create more land, and with the exception of a few hydroponic crops grown in water, you need land to grow food. However, it's important that we temper our fears here. History has shown that humanity will find ways to overcome issues of scarcity when it comes to food if given the proper motivation and enough time. We saw this in the past century with the creation of both artificial fertilizer and crops bred to produce higher yields. In many ways, our current population explosion is catching up with those new limits.

What can happen is short-term food scarcity, and sadly, this is far too common. This is especially true in poorer states. Few of us probably know the price of bread off the top of our heads. This is because we really don't have to think about it due to economic prosperity. We know that we can buy a store-brand loaf for around a dollar or two, or spend more for other breads. If the store goes from one dollar to two dollars for a loaf of their white bread, we don't think of it much. Meanwhile, families struggling on fewer than two dollars a day in developing countries definitely feel that crush.

Too Few Resources

What we in the United States definitely will know the price of is gasoline. For those of us who don't have public transit options, gas prices are a definite fact of life. In fact, they are a great way of looking at how short-term and long-term scarcities affect goods as well. Instability in the Middle East or an oil platform's ruin may drive prices up in the short term, while a peace deal or normal operation could cause them to drop. However, hard as it is to believe, over the long term and adjusted for inflation, gas is actually cheaper than it has been in the past.

This is because humanity can adjust for scarcities in the long term better than those in the short term. Just like food shortages, energy companies innovated. The current oil sands growth in places like Canada and North Dakota is a great example of this. In the past, oil sands were thought to be not worthwhile to pursue, but now the technology exists to make such work profitable. The same proves true for other sources of energy. Solar power and wind energy have only now become profitable due to more advanced technology, as well as increased demand both now and in the future.

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