A 2015 World Population Prospects report estimates “an 80% probability that the population of the world will be between 8.4 and 8.6 billion in 2030, between 9.4 and 10 billion in 2050 and between 10 and 12.5 billion in 2100” (Jones and Anderson, 2016). This indicates that the global population is unlikely to decrease anytime soon.
Rapid population growth results in overcrowding, leading to the emergence of dirty slums with limited or no access to clean water, sanitation, and other basic needs. Arable land is being replaced by sprawling, suburban developments. Habitats are being destroyed and ecosystems are threatened. Industrialization and overpopulation are responsible for the extinction of nearly 20 plant species hourly (National Wildlife Federation, 2015).
Deforestation is highly responsible for habitat loss and species extinction, and natural forests continue to thin every year. In 2004, a Population Reference Bureau article stated that since the 1980s, “agricultural expansion, logging, development, and other human activities caused the deforestation of more than 120 000 square kilometres each year” (Meyerson, 2004). Contrariwise, only about 12 000 square miles per year was being reforested (Meyerson, 2005).
Overpopulation affects deforestation on a global scale, even in sparsely populated areas. A clear correlation exists between extremely low population density and maintenance of forests. In sparsely populated areas, inhabitants are generally able to sustain themselves without commercial agriculture and timber products (Meyerson, 2004).
However, in many low-density regions, such as in many Amazonian areas, forests are being destroyed despite a lack of people. This would be in contrast to the assumption that that overpopulation leads to deforestation and habitat loss, however, research has shown that this deforestation is caused by external factors such as demand for timber or livestock from high population regions of the world (Meyerson, 2004). Unfortunately, forests continue to be destroyed in areas that do not depend on cleared land for survival as a form of national trade and to satisfy the needs and desires of the ever-growing population across the globe.