Overpopulation: Is it all Africa’s fault?

A map of Africa

If you start learning about human population growth, one of the first things you will notice is that families are the largest in Africa. In some countries in Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa the number of kids per couple is 7 or higher, and that is the average for the country. What is it in developed countries in Europe, North America, and East Asia? Most of these developed countries is below 2, meaning that the population is slowly shrinking. So is overpopulation all Africa’s fault?

Why is overpopulation an issue? What about the population a problem anyway? Resources. In ecology, when a population of a species is larger than what the environment and resources can provide than it is overpopulated. When this happens there is only one outcome: the population will be reduced by individuals of that species dying.

We’re humans though? Aren’t we smarter than a chicken or other animals? I hope we’re smarter. But being smarter has led to the population being this large. We hunted animals that would eat us and cured diseases, both predators to humans. We used agriculture to grow more food. But this progress has come with environmental costs. We remove dangerous animals so they won’t eat us or our livestock and we remove plants so we can create farms to grow food. These are things we want. But removing animals and plants from the ecosystem reduces the ecological services, things humans get from the ecosystem like air and clean water. Plants produce air for us to breath and hold soil so it doesn’t run into our lakes and rivers. Removing animals has a great impact on the quality of plant. We are slowly trading the ability to live anywhere and grow a lot of food with clean air and clean water.

It is not just the environment that is suffering, humans are suffering from overpopulation too. All economies are built around the amount of resources that community has. Average wealth of the people in that community is the amount of resources divided by the number of people.

Wealth = Resources / # of People

Some resources resupply themselves if harvested at a natural rate: trees, fish. However some resources like oil, coal, gold are limited. The only part of this equation we can control is the number of people. If you want to have people living happier, weather, longer lives then we need to have less people on the planet.

Gross Domestic Product per Person from Wikipedia. Notice the top counties are small and have small populations.

So less people? Africa has a lot of people and is making more. They have he highest number of child per couple. It’s all their fault right?

Let’s go back to that resources per person. Children in Africa receive a lot less resources than more developed countries like the list of top GDP per person. Countries like the USA take up the same amount of resources as 7-9 African children. American children receive high quality healthcare, school, clothing. These all require more resources. So, an American couple that has two kids is taking up twice the resources then an African couple with 7 kids.

So should we start killing people? While this would reduce the human population you probably couldn’t do it for very long. People don’t like to be killed and they would try to stop you.

Americans! Is it all their fault? I hope by now you realize it is everyone, all humans. It’s all our faults, it is all our responsibility. We all need to take action. You, me, your brother, cousin, everyone. You can do something by planning to have one or no kids and by using a condom or other birth control.