Human population growth and climate change have grown hand in hand as the use of fossil fuels has exploded to support industrialized societies. "More people means more demand for oil, gas, coal and other fuels mined or drilled from below the Earth’s surface that, when burned, spew enough carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere to trap warm air inside like a greenhouse," notes Scientific American. Most fossil fuel consumption comes from developed countries. It is a sobering thought that most developing nations aspire to similar industrial economies as they experience economic growth, which further escalates CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
The effect of overpopulation on the world’s wildlife is also a major issue. As demand for land grows, so too does the destruction of natural habitats, such as forests. Some scientists warn that if present trends continue, as many as 50% of the world’s wildlife species will be at risk of extinction. Data has also been collected to show that there is a direct link between increases in human population and decreases in the number of species on the planet.
With more than 7.6 billion people on the planet, it’s easy to assume someone else will tackle and solve the issue of population and environment. Yet it is an issue that affects us all, and as such we’re all responsible for working towards a sustainable future in which everyone is able to enjoy a good quality of life without destroying the very things we rely on to survive. It’s possible, but it will take the combined and coordinated efforts of individuals, communities, and governments to get there. Right now, if we destroy our planet, we will have nowhere else to go. If the human population continues to grow unchecked, the effects of overpopulation on the environment will leave us with a planet no longer be able to sustain us.