Bioethics Blogs

Human overpopulation of the earth myth

Is our planet really overpopulated?

The problem of human overpopulation of the Earth is often raised in different social settings and especially in some media, often resulting in the promotion of antinatalist policies. But is our planet really overpopulated?

This is a complex issue that is impossible to address here, but we would like to provide some information extracted from an article by Norbert Treitz, professor of physics at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), published in Investigación y Ciencia (July 2014, pages 86-89).

Treitz provides some interesting facts on the heterogeneous distribution of the population in different regions of the world.

On average, 13 persons per square kilometre live on the surface of the planet, around 50 on terra firma. In view of the extensive unpopulated regions on Earth, this is a huge number. We humans are very unevenly distributed in the different regions and countries. Moreover, the closer we look at the situation, the more deviations we find with respect to the average.

Among the European countries, Holland holds the record, with 402 inhabitants per square kilometre, although it is surpassed by the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia, with 523. Topping the world list is Bangladesh, with around 1,000 inhabitants per square kilometre. However, it is overshadowed by tiny countries like Monaco and the Vatican, and particularly districts with no parks in major cities; around 40,000 people per square metre live in the 11th arrondissement (district) of Paris, between the metro stations of Bastille, Nation and République. If they all lived at ground level, the average distance between two individuals would be around five metres.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.