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LDRS3900 Leadership & Global Issues Discussion

Discussion Week Five
Is the world over-populated or over-consumed? The answer depends on the lens in which
a person looks at the situation. If I could, I would answer “both”; however, if I had to choose, I
would have to say the world is over-consumed. The age-old argument for the case against overpopulation is that there is plenty of land and water to go around for everyone—but this simply is
not true. If there truly was enough easily accessible and clean water for everyone on earth, why
would we continue to have almost one billion people (approximately one eighth of the world’s
population) without access to clean water?
“It is a common fact that the world is covered in water…About 75% of the earth is
covered in water. There is no shortage of water on earth…However, despite the fact that
three-quarters of the Earth are made up of water, less than 3% of the water is fresh, nonsaline water. Furthermore, of the existing fresh water, not all of it is available for human
consumption…In its current state, less than 1% of the Earth's water is usable” (Misachi,
Despite the fact that the world is, indeed, mostly covered in water, it is evident that there actually
is not enough clean water to go around—at least, in the present state of our world.
Overconsumption is the true culprit here.
When most people think of water, they only think of drinking water, and perhaps the
water used for sanitation purposes. What these people fail to realize is that water is essential for a
myriad of other things, the main one being agriculture. “In most regions of the world, over 70
percent of freshwater is used for agriculture. By 2050, feeding a planet of 9 billion people will
require an estimated 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a 15 percent increase in
water withdrawals” (Khokhar, 2017). Considering the majority of freshwater is used for
agriculture, it follows that the overconsumption of water and food would ultimately lead to vast
food shortages. After all, without water, how will people grow food?
I believe the key argument in favor of over-population/population control, albeit
controversial, can be portrayed in China’s one child policy:
“In 1979, the Chinese government implemented the ‘one child, one couple’ populationcontrol policy. Deng Xiaoping, then-leader of the Chinese government, hoped that
implementation of a one-child policy would relieve the population stress created by
escalating birthrates and assist in his plan to transform the country into an industrial
powerhouse…reducing fertility rates was not the only goal; improving the quality of
Chinese people, through improved education, and increasing general knowledge in areas
such as health care, child-rearing, law, and technology were also seen as vital to future
prosperity in the country” (Fedorak, 2014, pp. 148-149).
Although this policy actually did improve the quality of life for many Chinese citizens and
significantly lower the fertility rate, its implementation also comes with serious ramifications and
consequences. In my opinion, I believe mandated population control policies are immoral and a
“vehicle for human rights abuses that exacerbates the very real problem of female abandonment
and infanticide in China” (Fedorak, 2014, p. 49). I believe a woman should have control over her
own body as well how many kids she wants to have. Women are often forced into getting an
abortion if they become pregnant with a second child, and sometimes they choose to have an
abortion if the fetus is female. Millions of women in China have been sterilized since the
implementation of this policy. I truly cannot fathom being forced by my government to terminate
a pregnancy. It seems as if it a blatant and cruel violation of human rights.
If a couple does end up having a second child, the parents must pay an extraordinarily
hefty fine, and if they cannot pay the fine, their homes are often looted. The second child of a
couple is often abandoned or is left with essentially no identity or way to be successful in life.
Out of fear of repercussions, many families do not register their second child, resulting in the
child having no formal documents, such as a birth certificate. “These unregistered children are
denied the most basic of citizenship rights, including state health care and education, and suffer
from social and economic marginalization. In adulthood, unregistered people may have difficulty
gaining employment, enrolling in the army, or marrying” (Fedorak, 2014, p. 51).
While a population-control policy may improve some people’s standard of life, the
problem of overconsumption is still the biggest threat compared to overpopulation. Contrary to
popular belief, the countries with the largest populations or highest birth rates are often not the
countries that use the most resources. I think overconsumption can largely be attributed to
capitalism and greed. In fact, the United States is the biggest culprit of overconsumption in the
world, even compared to countries with vastly bigger populations.
“It is well known that Americans consume far more natural resources and live much less
sustainably than people from any other large country of the world…the average
American will drain as many resources as 35 natives of India and consume 53 times more
goods and services than someone from China… Americans have been using and abusing
natural resources…With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third
of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the
aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper…Our per capita use of energy, metals, minerals,
forest products, fish, grains, meat, and even fresh water dwarfs that of people living in the
developing world” (Scheer & Moss, 2012).
Fedorak, S. (2014). Global Issues: A cross-cultural perspective. Toronto, Canada: University of
Toronto Press.
Khokhar, T. (2017, March 22). Chart: globally, 70% of the freshwater is used for agriculture.
Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/chart-globally-70-freshwater-usedagriculture
Misachi, J. (2018, February 14). What percentage of the earth’s water is drinkable? Retrieved
from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-percentage-of-the-earth-s-water-isdrinkable.html
Scheer, R., Moss, D. (2012, September 14). Use it and lose it: the outside effect of US
consumption on the environment. Retrieved from