The cause of Overpopulation

 Popular knowledge directs the ire of a growingly unsustainable population at those in developing countries that form a part of the global poor and are unable to understand the immediate need to adopt family planning, and rightly so. However, this is not an inherent trait of certain sections of people and sociological reasons behind large families and overpopulation must be examined. These are:

1. High infant and childhood mortality: according to UNICEF one child dies every three seconds (6,500 per day) due to malnutrition and disease. It is an insurance to have more than you may need so that some of them reach adulthood. 

2. Security in old age: the tradition in the family is that children will take care of their parents. The more children the more secure the parents, and the less the burden for each child. If there is no social welfare network, children look after their parents. 

3. Children are an economic asset in agricultural societies: They work on the land as soon as they are able. More children mean more help but more children need feeding. In MEDCs, children are dependent on their parents during their education and take longer to contribute to society. 

4. Status of women: the traditional position of women is that they are subordinate to men. In many countries, they are deprived of  any rights, like owning property, having their own career, getting an education. Instead they do most of the agricultural work and are considered worthy only for making children, and their social status depends on the number of children they produce, particularly boys. Breaking down such barriers of discrimination (social or religious), allowing girls to get an education and be capable of gaining status outside the context of bearing children has probably contributed more than anything toward the very low fertility rate in MEDCs.

5. Unavailability of contraceptives: in MEDCs this is the prime way of reducing fertility. In LEDCs, many women would like to have them but they are too poor to pay for them or they cannot get them.

Now that these issues have been addressed, methods to strike them at their roots must be designed so that society is benefitted as a whole, and the earth can free itself of the burgeoning burden of increasing population. These are:

1. Provide education in the form of basic literacy to children and adults, especially about family planning, financial safety and the population crisis.

2. Improve health by preventing the spread of diseases through simple measures of hygiene (boiling water), by improving nutrition, and by providing some simple medication and vaccines. 

3. Make contraceptives and family counselling available, especially to illiterate and underprivileged women.

4. Enhance income by small-scale projects focusing on the family level. Microlending, as in the Gramin Bank, is a practice that has had high success. Small loans are given for a peasant to buy some seed and fertilizer to grow tomatoes, for a woman to buy pans to bake bread, for a weaver to buy yarn, for an auto mechanic to get some tools. Thus, small enterprises may start that will feed the whole family (at least). Return of the loan is guaranteed through credit associations formed by the members of the community. 

5. Improve resource management. Local people may grow tree seedlings for transplanting in reforestation projects, prevent erosion through soil conservation measures. We have realized that large projects in LEDCs often do not work. Major projects like building dams for HEP or roads cost an LEDC which is then in debt (third world debt) and force the population into cash cropping (eg tobacco, oil palm). 

Thus, through a combination of welfare, education, humanity and initiative, we as a community can help earth overcome one of the biggest environmental and social crises it has ever faced.

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