Overpopulation may be described as a situation where a habitat holds a larger number of organisms than it should. The human population has been increasing at extreme rates in last few decades with an estimated three births every day (Connor 2006). Overpopulation has continued affecting the environment negatively over these years. Many human activities are not environment friendly and overpopulation does not make the situation any better.
Major impacts on the environment resulting from overpopulation
One of the major ways in which overpopulations affects the environment is through water pollution. As many people move to urban areas to seek employment, the amount of sewage waste tends to increase. Such wastes are carelessly disposed off such that they finally find their way into water bodies in their untreated condition.
Some of the main contributors of water pollution are industries and open mines whose waste water contains chemical substances and other materials such as heavy metals which cannot be purified. Overexploitation in oceans through overfishing causes imbalance in the ecosystem of the coastal areas and results to lower populations of fish and other aquatic organisms (Stancheva 2003).
Eventually, all these wastes and sediments find their way into the ocean and since the ocean is important in regulating climate, the overall climate is affected which may lead to economical problems. In addition, the ocean helps to prevent global warming through absorption of some percentage of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activities. Destruction of the ocean through overexploitation, therefore, limits this function.
Besides polluting the water, there is also the problem of overconsumption which limits the supply of this precious commodity. Lack of adequate water also affects the environment since water is essential in maintaining a balanced ecosystem through its use by plants and animals (Vinelli 2003).
Degradation of soil is another major impact of overpopulation. As the population increases, so does the demand for food production to cater for the growing population. This then leads to exploitation of lands that are not suitable for cultivation such as hilly areas and hilly lands whose cultivation leads to erosion and consequent loss of nutrients.
This need for more land for cultivation leads to certain agricultural practices that are not environment friendly such as slash-and-burn cultivation which lead to deforestation. Similarly, overpopulation calls for higher energy production. This leads to exploitation of wood for fuel production and hence resulting to deforestation.
Other primary causes of deforestation are construction of roads and residential houses to cater for the increasing population. The general impact of all the effects mentioned above is the decrease in biodiversity (Fears 2009). As the natural habitats are destroyed, many wildlife species have been displaced and many died due to changes in the environment resulting from pressure due to human overexploitation of the environment.
All of these issues indicate that the natural resources that humans ignore and misuse are of great importance to them. Some of these impacts on the environment resulting from human overexploitation of natural resources may be permanent or last for long periods of time (Nahle 2003).
If these trends continue, the environmental conditions will intensify since it is no doubt that the human population will continue increasing in the recent past. Sustainable approaches should, therefore, be taken to conserve the natural resources in order to counteract these adverse impacts
Connor, Steve. “Overpopulation ‘is main threat to planet’”. 2006 – July 07, 2011,
Fears, Niki. “The effect of overpopulation on the environment and our sustainability”. 2009 – July 07, 2011, http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/17302.aspx
Nahle, Nasif. “current effects of overpopulation”. 2003 – July 07, 2011,
Stancheva, Tina. “Effects of overpopulation on the environment” 2003 – July 07, 2011,
Vinelli, Gian. “Environmental effects of population”. 2003 – July 07, 2011,