An Inquest into the Impacts of Population Pressure on the Natural Environment and Human Society
The effect of population pressure on the environment has increasingly become a subject of intensive scholarly debate globally. This focus stems largely from the existential questions that attend environmental degradation and the scarcity of resources arising therefrom. History is replete with instances where an imbalance in the ratio of population to environmental resources resulted in cataclysmic dislocations in societal well-being. This study interrogates this phenomenon philosophically, albeit with copious reference to historical examples such as the 18th century Mfecane in Southern Africa, the collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Easter Island, the Classic Lowland Maya civilization, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Great Zimbabwe in Africa, Norse of Greenland and the Indus valley civilization. Population pressure could precipitate pollution, poverty, war, land-hunger, deforestation, desertification, extinction of species, scarcity of fresh water, a decline of fish and game stocks and biodiversity. The collapse of an entire civilization becomes possible when these problems are ignored as humans exploit environmental resources to meet their needs. Therefore, this study posits that overpopulation has multifaceted destructive consequences for the environment, mutatis mutandis, humans and their societies and debunks the postulation, which John Zeaman noted, and increasingly referred to as the "Netherlands fallacy". The position of this fallacy is that we have nothing to fear from high population because the Netherlands enjoy a high standard of living, despite its high population density. The study draws attention to the need for population control, relative to available resources and human needs. The study adopts the philosophical methods of conceptual and critical analyses.
Keywords: Overpopulation, Ecological Degradation, Resource Depletion, Resource Scarcity, Population Pressure, Social disorder, Netherlands Fallacy, Eco-Balance.