On my Philosophy Forums we have a topic discussing what would be the most ethical way to prevent overpopulation if inaction meant overpopulation was inevitable.

I explained why I think we can prevent overpopulation by doing what we would want to do anyway–end world hunger, poverty, and socioeconomic inequality. I will re-post what I wrote here.

Currently, 18,000 children die every day from world hunger. Billions of people live in poverty. As far as I know, poverty exists in every nation in the world. For example, in the United States, millions of people in the United States live in poverty, including millions of working people and millions of college graduates.

However, the world currently has more than enough food to feed everyone. The world has more than enough resources to provide food, clean water, shelter, healthcare and education to all people.

But we choose not to do it. Partially it is because we are not behaving charitably enough, but I think it is more because some people have claimed much more than their fair share and much more than they need of the natural resources and the productive labor of others.

As a result, we see the problems that would be associated with overpopulation and a scarcity of resources, which includes not only world hunger and poverty as a direct result, but also war, violence, government corruption, and other examples of people fighting over natural resources and getting angry about not receiving their fair share.

Since we already have these problems, overpopulation would not be a significantly noticeable change. Because of that, the people in society probably will not notice the effects of overpopulation since those ‘effects’ will just be more of the same (e.g. war, violence, fighting over natural resources, socioeconomic inequality, etc.).

I believe the way to prevent overpopulation would be to fix the current political system that allows world hunger and poverty to happen now. Fixing the current problems are desirable to me and many people regardless of the fact that fixing them would prevent overpopulation, which is also desired.

Basically, our current system of distribution of wealth is so barbaric and unfair that for most people in the world it feels like the world is already overpopulated (because such people are receiving such an unfairly small share of the world’s wealth). So there is little incentive to stop overpopulation and little notice of the effects of increases in population.

If the people in the world found a more effective and fair way to share the world’s wealth such that world hunger, poverty and so forth were ended, and as a result there would be significantly less war, violence and corruption, then I believe that would prevent overpopulation based on three main points: Firstly, there would be direct consequences of increases in population on most people (since people would be receiving a fair share, which would be less when there is more people). Secondly, as a result of the first, there would be more of an incentive to fix overpopulation (since it would be creating a problem which wouldn’t already exist in a fair, povertyless society). Thirdly, there would be more social ability to address global threats and problems such as overpopulation (and global warming, etc.) because our ability to work together would not be so hindered by the war, fighting, and corruption of a world with poverty and socioeconomic inequality.

In short, I believe the way to prevent overpopulation is to fix those horrible qualities that our current world would have in common with an overpopulated world. Namely, these problems are world hunger, poverty and socioeconomic inequality.

What do you think? Please join the discussion at the Philosophy Forums.

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Children suffering from Poverty