Environmental Refugees: Ethical Issues Involving Overpopulation

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National Academy of Sciences


Environmental refugees are produced when the human population exceeds the carrying capacity of a particular region and its inhabitants are forced to search for a more hospitable area. Since not much has been done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or other issues of global warming, there will continue to be more environmental refugees for the next decade or more. Considering that the biosphere is made up of finite resources and finite space per capita, an increasing population will cause more problems for the biospheric life support system. Not only does the human population size need to be reduced, but also the vast gap between the extremely poor and extremely wealthy needs to be reduced as well for the majority of the population to be able to live comfortably. Of course, no means of population control is socially acceptable in growth-oriented cultures, but it should be more appealing than nature s way of controlling the population by starvation and disease.



environmental refugees, climate change, carrying capacity, population growth