Human Overpopulation

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Human Overpopulation

NC Essential Standard L.3.1/ Common Core: W2, R1, R10

Explain how factors such as food, water, shelter, and space affect populations in an ecosystem.

Introduction: In 1967, there were only 3 billion people on the planet. Today, there are more than 7 billion people on Earth! Every year, the population is increasing by about 80 million people! Human population is increasing rapidly and is causing many environmental and social problems. In this activity, you will read about human overpopulation and how this overpopulation affects factors such as space, water, shelter, and food.

Objective: Describe the cause and effect relationship between human overpopulation and factors such as food, water, shelter, and space.

How does human overpopulation affect food, water, shelter, and space on Earth?

Hypothesis: If ____________________________________________________________________,



What do you think the Earth will look like in 250 years? _____________________________________





Procedures (complete as assigned):

  1. Read the article from Discovery Education

  2. Fill in the Human Overpopulation Chart using the reading, your classnotes, the textbook, and any additional resources you need. Some suggestions are:




  3. Answer the concluding question in an essay. Use the information collected for your chart as support while answering the question.

It Is Crowded in Here

By: Discovery Education

Population and Overpopulation A population is all the members of a particular species living in a specific place. A population can include any area, such as a city, an island, or even a country. The current population of humans on Earth is estimated to be 7,025,387,361— more than 7 billion people who need food, water, and shelter to survive. And this number is growing each year. Populations increase as organisms reproduce or move into an area. Populations decrease as organisms die or move out of an area.
Overpopulation occurs when too many organisms, of the same or different species, are located in one area. When there are too many organisms in one place, there is less food for each organism and shelter becomes crowded or limited. Eventually, all the resources in that area might be used up and this would cause many of the organisms to die.
Migration of individuals can reduce overpopulation. Migration occurs when individuals move or relocate to a new area. In some areas of the far north, there are growing populations of coyotes. Some experts think that the warmer weather in the north has helped coyote populations increase. But as coyote numbers have grown, there are fewer habitats for coyotes to live in and fewer prey for coyotes to eat. Thus, the coyotes are moving farther south looking for food, sometimes moving as far south as populated cities and metropolitan areas. This can cause problems because most cities are not equipped to handle coyotes. The coyotes are becoming a nuisance in the cities by getting into garbage cans and attacking household pets.
However, sometimes there are no new places to go. Some environments are very limited. For example, a small pond is limited in size. If the population of trout in that pond grows too high, the trout cannot leave. The trout will likely begin to die off as the competition for food and shelter increases.

Human Overpopulation

There are also limited places where humans can live. Some areas of the Earth are not ideal for people to live, such as dry deserts and frigid polar regions. Areas around the United States, such as Las Vegas, for example, have expanded into the hot, dry desert. For many years, the residents of Las Vegas have depended on local lakes and rivers such as Lake Mead and the Colorado River. However, because of the increased population in the area, heavy water demands, and terrible drought conditions, these sources are at very low levels and may become so low that they are not usable as a source of water. Finding new sources of water is challenging, especially in a desert, and Las Vegas keeps digging deeper and deeper to tap into the local water table, which is running out.

The human population is having devastating effects on the environment as well. Human waste and construction have wiped out thousands of species. The production of greenhouse gases by humans has resulted in the acidification of the ocean, which has destroyed habitats of marine life and coral reefs. Some areas of the ocean are inhabitable. Humans have also wiped out forests, including some in the Amazon, affecting all of the animals and plants that once lived there. Some organisms have unique niches and once they lose their habitat, there is nowhere else they can relocate to.
Overpopulation is a serious environmental issue. Of all the species on earth, humans are the most overpopulated. Some experts believe that a mass extinction is under way, given the rate at which species are dying because of human activities. The decreasing supply of clean water and air could result in a severe reduction in the human population.
In areas of high population density, where a large number of people live in a comparatively small area, the transmission of diseases can happen very quickly and affect many people. The bubonic plague, which killed an estimated 25 million people in the 1300s, has occasional outbreaks across the world. These outbreaks must be caught and treated quickly. Modern medicine cures and contains the spread of the plague most of the time, but there is always another pandemic out there that modern medicine is not ready for, such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the bird flu.
As Earth's population continues to grow, there must be new ways of managing water, food, and other natural resources to avoid continued environmental devastation.

Human Overpopulation


Describe the Problem

What happens if the population continues to increase?

What are possible solutions to solve this problem?







  1. Write an essay answering the following question: Do you think the world will be able to continue to support Earth’s growing population? Why or why not? If not, what can be done to solve the problem?

Be sure to describe at least 3 factors from above, how human overpopulation affects each factor, and, for each factor, how the Earth will continue to support humans or what has to change.

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