Is the world overpopulated? The answer to that depends on who you are asking. If you ask a capitalist, he will most definitely say no because to a capitalist, the bigger the population, the higher his bottom-line. If you ask the Church, the answer is still no because to religious leaders, we need to pro-create and not worry about anything else because “God will provide”. While the United Nations (UN) is predicting that the global population will reach seven billion by this year, capitalists and Church leaders alike are chanting, More! More! without considering the impact of their agendas.
If you ask a politician in charge of the immigration department however, he will most likely say yes, the world is becoming overpopulated. This is because he is getting tired of boatloads of refugees and illegal immigrants from war torn or third World countries who cross their borders and then strain the resources of and possibly wreak havoc in their adopted countries.
If you ask environmentalists and scientists too the answer to the question will be a resounding yes!!! The world is becoming overpopulated and overpopulation is wreaking havoc to our environment!
World-renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking is even advocating that it is imperative we look to other planets for expansion now because according to him, it is unlikely that planet Earth will be able to support the continued rate of human population growth we are seeing today. Is his prediction too loony, doomy and gloomy perhaps? Or is he just being realistic and proactive?
If you ask me, I would not bother to go as far as seeking residency on another planet yet. We can’t even agree on how to deal with the current problems we have on planet Earth so the idea of going to another planet to search for more bounty and peace is not the solution. You can bet your lucky stars that humans will just do the same amount of damage on any other planet since we are incapable of coming to any resolution about certain issues — such as human population, for example.
In a recent news report about overpopulation, the UN has predicted that the global population will climb to nine billion by 2050 and according to John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council, “almost all of the growth [will be] occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia.” Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund likewise said that “By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable.” The following is an excerpt from the article:
The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University.
But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years — tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations — and add more strain to global food supplies.
People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said.
It takes around seven pounds (3.4 kilograms) of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.
“More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet,” Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.
Where does the Philippines fit in the above scenarios?
With a population of 100 million and with an estimate of only 38 million members employed, the Philippines is the 12th most populous and is among the poorest countries in the world. Add to this information, Filipinos rely mostly on imports to feed themselves. Our main staple is rice but Filipinos are incapable of producing enough rice to feed its entire population. The Philippines is in fact the number one importer of rice because of Filipinos’ addiction to the grain.
In terms of income, the country also relies heavily on the international community to provide jobs for skilled and non-skilled Filipinos with an estimated of more than one million (and counting) Filipinos working abroad as overseas foreign workers (OFWs). The continued deployment of Filipino workers abroad has provided support to the country’s economy with the steady flow of remittances expected to top $20 billion this year. This has helped support consumption and helped keep the economy from collapsing.
Likewise, the country’s national security depends on international assistance as well. Without the assistance of the United States military, the Philippine military is ill equipped, too incompetent and too corrupt to provide security for the nation even against threats coming from within.
To be sure, in an extreme scenario, the Philippines if left alone, could possibly have a collapsed economy, sink into anarchy and maybe cannibalism.
Is a large population helping the Philippines stay afloat then?
More likely, the Philippines’ growing population is a double-edged sword. The Philippine economy is steady along with a growing population. However, economic growth also depends on the population’s ability to spend. The more babies there are, the more diapers Procter and Gamble will sell, which means higher profits for the company and a bigger pay rise to its employees.
But as I keep saying in my previous articles, when people have no income, there will be no money to spend. Without a job, instead of nappies from Procter and Gamble, people will just contend with washable cloth diapers. If things get even tighter, babies will just have to run around in their birthday suits. That kind of situation will be no good for companies like Procter and Gamble. They might have to close production plants, which would mean further job losses.
Aggressive company expansion can also be risky when a company relies on sheer population growth alone as the basis for expanding its market. If you were a shopping mall owner like Henry Sy for example, at the end of the day, you would scratch your head and wonder why your retailers are complaining of low profits when your mall is actually so full of people. It should not be a mystery to anyone that a lot of the people who go to the mall are just there for the air-conditioning and to ogle. People don’t necessarily spend money when they go on a field trip to the shopping centers. One look at the parking areas and you will see that there are even families by the jeepload who bring their own meals. The shopping mall operators have seen through this “modus operandi” and some have forbidden shopping patrons from eating at the food court with their own “baon“.
In essence, venture capitalists should bear in mind three things: 1) The earning capacity of Filipinos can be volatile. Considering OFWs do not have a habit of saving, their earning capacity will become little to nil if their luck runs out in the job market. 2) Natural resources are finite, meaning there will come a point when raw materials will become so precious, the prices of goods will skyrocket. 3) Making money does not necessarily have to mean aggressive expansion. A lot of companies have fallen victim to overexpansion. Companies such as book and music retailer Borders or Krispy Kreme or even Starbucks are examples of such. The former have had to file for bankruptcy due to slow sales and the two latter companies have had to downsize operations around the world due to overexpansion.
Is the Philippines really overpopulated?
First, let us define overpopulation. Overpopulation is when the number of organisms exceeds the carrying capacity of its habitat. Have Filipinos exceeded the carrying capacity of the Philippines? My answer to that is: because the number of people living in major cities is not in line with its carrying capacity, there is overcrowding. To a great extent, the available sustainable resources of the country does not support the size of the population. So therefore, the overcrowding has more to do with how the government has mismanaged the situation.
In Manila’s North Cemetery for instance, among the dead there are an estimated 10,000 living-and-breathing Filipino squatters who consider the 100-acre burial ground as their permanent residence. These Filipinos who belong to the country’s below-poverty-line underclass have found a way to survive by occupying the space reserved for the dead. Clearly, there is an issue of overcrowding here.
Out of the country’s 100 million, only a 38.2 million are productive or employed. Obviously, there are more Filipinos who are part of the unproductive members of society and who do not contribute to the growth of the economy. They in fact, just occupy precious space and pull down the economy.
Overcrowding is the least of Philippine society’s problems due to government mismanagement; crime rate goes up along with the growing population because people fight for the same limited resources. Criminals end up in equally overcrowded and almost inhumane prison cells as well and as a result, there is no rehabilitation program in place for convicted criminals. This means that the minute they rejoin society, chances are, they will go back to doing criminal activities
Does overpopulation or overcrowding in the Philippines lead to climate change?
Although overcrowding has damaged the aesthetics of the country and continues to put Filipino lives at risk when natural calamities occur, the Philippines being a poor country does not add to climate change (assuming climate change is real) as much as affluent countries do. This is because the country does not have manufacturing plants as plenty as and that are operational 24 hours a day like China’s. And since Filipinos do not have the spending power equivalent to that of the First World, we are less accountable for the bigger proportion of the carbon emissions said to be responsible for climate change.
The world’s richest people—that’s about 7 per cent of the global population—are said to be responsible for half of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. The bad news is, if climate change is real, the poorest countries like the Philippines will bear the brunt of extreme changes to the climate. We will not have the capability to counter the effects of La Nina or El Nino if and when it hits us.
Whether you believe in the threat of overpopulation to the environment or not, there is enough evidence to suggest that the country’s unsustainable resources is not enough to cater to the country’s growing population. If we want to attain economic stability, we must address the issue of our dependence on importing food from outside the country. Not only that, we also have to address dwindling water and energy supplies, which even now is not even enough to support the lifestyle aspirations of the current population.
At the rate the population of the country is growing, there will not be enough arable land to use for agriculture to make the country more self-sufficient. To address the issue of overcrowding, we should encourage people to live in high-rise buildings to reduce the chances of agricultural lands being converted into subdivisions for housing. This will also address the public transportation problem because people will not have to live too far from their work.
If the government is not keen on addressing population growth, they should at least ensure that the country’s resources could cater to everyone’s needs especially the most vulnerable members of society – the poor. Come to think of it, even if there are only ten people in the Philippines, if there are no more resources to use for survival, those ten people will be doomed.
In summary: the Philippine government should consider the following options:
1. Control population growth; or,
2. Manage the country’s resources efficiently.
If controlling the population or managing the country’s resources is not an option, everyone should be prepared for the dire consequences.