Many things currently plague civilization in its march for survival. We face a mounting environmental crisis like no other in human history. We face many threats, including rapidly transmissible diseases, ideological and resource-based conflicts between nations, and the looming threats of energy deficits, economic collapse, resource shortages — and worst of all, potential extinction.
Because too many people rely on fossil fuels and other crude forms of energy, the carbon footprint of humanity has spiked with the growth of the human population. Human production of carbon dioxide has started a chain reaction of ocean acidification, ecosystem collapse and rapid extinction of other species. What’s worse, the effects of carbon production are offset by several years, so gauging the true impact of human carbon production is difficult beyond monitoring current changes and current climate models.
Another issue is pollution. Humans create more and more waste, some of it taking years — if not centuries or millennia — to decompose. This waste harms other organisms, disturbs physical objects or barriers that are important to the environment, such as wetlands, coasts and forested areas.
With the density of urban areas increasing, transmittable diseases have also taken advantage of over population. Even the most difficult diseases to transmit, like the fluid borne diseases HIV and more recently Ebola, infect and kill millions of people in short periods of time before their spread can be countered by regional or international health agencies. The rapid transportation of humanity has aided the transmission of diseases as well, with planes and boats acting as a medium between different locations.
A shortage of resources has also been a prime concern for the past few decades. The stress of supporting a growing population with fossil fuels will cause an economic collapse and a subsequent lack of resources. Fossil fuels also have limited reserves and are expected to be drained over the next one or two centuries. Some military strategists have even seen this eventual shortage of resources or energy to be the primer for future military conflicts between nations, threatening national security and the trust between other nations as well. This could be the largest effect on the human population, aside from climate change and disease, and could result in a staggering loss of life.
If there is one factor that influences all of these issues, it’s most certainly this: the human population has exceeded acceptable capacity, creating pressure on a growing population to sustain itself and assimilate with other cultures or nations. The ability for humanity to sustain a growing population — and a growing economy — is becoming less and less possible. Our excessive growth threatens our relationship with the earth and ourselves. Ultimately, whether through the law or through our own will, we must band together to reduce our birth rate, or face the potential strife and population collapse — which may occur in the near future.