What Does Population Explosion Mean?
A population explosion is a sudden increase in the number of individuals in a species. While any species can undergo a population explosion, the term is typically used in reference to the human population. In particular, the population boom following the end of World War II.
While a population explosion can be an indicator that a species is thriving, such a sudden increase can also throw an ecosystem out of equilibrium. In human populations, for instance, it may result in a scarcity of resources or a reduction of employment opportunities.
Safeopedia Explains Population Explosion
In the past, population growth had been kept in check by disease, nutrition scarcity, and poor sanitation. The advent of industrial agriculture and modern medicine, however, brought an increase in life expectancy and a higher likelihood that children would survive to adulthood.
Thanks to this reduction in mortality, the human population is currently over 7.8 billion strong. By United Nations (UN) estimates, the population will reach 10.8 billion by 2100.
The causes of population growth are many and complex, but they include:
- A falling infant mortality rate - from 8.8 million in 1990 to 4.1 million in 2017, according to the World Health Organization
- The underutilization of contraceptives - while the UN Population Division reports that the global fertility rate has decreased from an average of 5 children per woman in 1950 to 2.4 children per woman today, contraceptive use is still low in some parts of the world
- Lack of education among girls and women - lower access to education among girls is correlated with earlier marriages and higher birth rates
Adverse Impacts of Population Explosions
While a population crash can be a worrying sign, population explosions have their downsides as well. A dramatic increase in population does not bring a corresponding increase in resources, meaning that nutritionally rich foods, clean drinking water, and uninhabited space are at risk of becoming scarcer and more difficult to access.
The growth of the human population also results in increased demand for homes, transportation, and consumer goods. This rise in consumption has resulted in various adverse environmental effects, such as higher levels of pollution, deforestation, the depletion of the ozone layer, the extinction of species, as well as climate change.