Overpopulation: The Impending Crisis


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The population around the globe in 1800 was estimated to be about 1 billion and it has been growing exponentially ever since. As of March 2020, the world has reached about 7.8 billion growing at a rate of 1.05% per year. It had taken all of human history until 1800 for the world population to reach 1 billion, whereas the next 6 billion were achieved only in the next 200 years. It is expected to keep growing, though predictions differ as to when and if this growth will plateau.

This exponential growth in population has been observed majorly due to the industrial revolution. Human’s ability to alter their environment is an underlying reason for human population growth, enabling people to overcome density-dependent limits on growth, in contrast with all other organisms. Abilities, such as the construction of shelter, food cultivation, and the sharing of technology, have helped humans overcome factors that would have otherwise limited their population growth. Read more about how the population increased during industrialization.

Along with population growth, urbanization has also seen a huge increase in the past few years. Modern and developed cities have now become centers for massive scientific and technological advancements. This has led the urban population to skyrocket even further causing major metropolitan cities to become even further densely populated. Listed below are the world’s 5 most populated cities;

1.  Tokyo, Japan

Population- 37,393,000

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and the most populous city in the world with over 37 million of its residents spread over three prefectures. Tokyo is a major international development hub for the business environment, financial sector, infrastructure and human capital and the largest metropolitan economy in the world. More than 10% of the Japanese population resides in Tokyo causing it to become densely populated leading to the housing crisis. Overpopulation in Tokyo will also eventually lead to a water crisis as well as environmental pollution. Necessary steps are being taken by the Japanese government to decentralize Tokyo to provide a better and promising future for its citizens.

2. Delhi, India

Population- 30,291,000

Delhi or the National Capital Territory (NCT) of India is a large metropolitan area with the highest population present in India. Some experts also estimate that it will become the largest city in the world by population within the near future. But the sprawling city of Delhi, famed for its vibrant culture and rich history, has a problem familiar to urban areas across the world: keeping up with a booming population. It is safe to say that the infrastructure of Delhi doesn’t coup with the explosive population growth that the city has seen for the last decades.  The population growth rate has outpaced the rate at which accommodation can be made available. The government now has a great need for effective urban planning.

3. Shanghai, China

Population- 27,058,000

Shanghai is famous for being the economic center of China and has more than 27 million people living within its metro area. Shanghai is an important financial, economic, trade, and shipping center for China. The city’s population has grown steadily for decades. Since 1950, the population has grown by about a million inhabitants a year, with many of these people flocking to the city for its robust economic strength. Shanghai has also been undergoing major industrial restructuring and development within its high-tech industries. One of the major problems in shanghai due to overpopulation is its poor waste management infrastructure. This issue needs to be tackled soon or it will become a major threat to the environment. 

4. São Paulo, Brazil

Population- 22,043,000

Located on a plateau of the Brazilian Highlands, Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It has one of the fastest-growing populations in the Southern Hemisphere and it is one of the top 10 largest metropolitan areas in the world. In the past 70 years, Sao Paulo’s population has ballooned, growing from around 2.3 million to its current population of 22 millionThis city has one of the largest immigrants in the country majority of them being students attending the universities. This city has many award-wedding distinctions including the city with the fourth-best nightlife in the world and some of the best restaurants in the world. The biggest problem faced by the city due to its massive population is poverty. Also, the rapid rate of urbanization has led to some unpredictable weather patterns.

5. Mexico City, Mexico

Population- 21,782,000

The fifth-largest city in the world by population is the capital of Mexico with more than 21.7 million residents, which also makes it the most populous city in North America. In the past 70 years, Mexico City’s population has grown by leaps and bounds.  One of the many reasons for overpopulation in Mexico City is the number of foreigners living in it which has grown exponentially in the past few years. Even though Mexico has a robust economy, about half of Mexicans live in poverty. The ever-expanding city and its economic disparity have led to the rise of multiple ghettos and shantytowns. Squatter settlements and slums are known as “lost cities” have begun to overtake parts of the city, including unused lots, green areas, and areas of dry lake beds.


The increasing human population is putting large amounts of pressure on our natural resources and is contributing to climate change, leading many people to call for increased population control—especially for poorer communities. A finite world can only support finite people so population growth must be kept in check as the greatest threat to our existence depends on our ability to control our growth. As Henry W. Kendall once quoted, “If we do not voluntarily bring population growth under control in the next one or two decades, nature will do it for us in the most brutal way, whether we like it or not”.

Written by - Riya Chhikara

Edited by - Vaibhav Sharma

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