Humans have sought to understand the relationship between population . wide array of theories have emerged to describe the relationship among the variables of resource depletion, and rising poverty (see the land degradation section). No simple relationship exists between population size and environmental change. pattern, and, as a result, the Earth's population is also increasingly urbanized. as in the case of emissions standards — or exacerbate degradation as in the. The relationship between environmental problems and population growth is complex and not fully understood. century saw the biggest increase in the world's population in human history coining a new term to describe our time— the Anthropocene epoch. A formula for environmental degradation?.
- Population and environment: a global challenge
More importantly, could these trillion people cooperate on the scale required, or might some groups seek to use a disproportionate fraction of resources?
If so, might other groups challenge that inequality, including through the use of violence? These are questions that are yet to be answered. Population distribution The ways in which populations are spread across Earth has an effect on the environment. Developing countries tend to have higher birth rates due to poverty and lower access to family planning and education, while developed countries have lower birth rates.
These faster-growing populations can add pressure to local environments. Globally, in almost every country, humans are also becoming more urbanised. Bythat figure was 54 per cent, with a projected rise to 66 per cent by While many enthusiasts for centralisation and urbanisation argue this allows for resources to be used more efficiently, in developing countries this mass movement of people heading towards the cities in search of employment and opportunity often outstrips the pace of development, leading to slums, poor if any environmental regulation, and higher levels of centralised pollution.
Even in developed nations, more people are moving to the cities than ever before.
The pressure placed on growing cities and their resources such as water, energy and food due to continuing growth includes pollution from additional cars, heaters and other modern luxuries, which can cause a range of localised environmental problems. Humans have always moved around the world.
However, government policies, conflict or environmental crises can enhance these migrations, often causing short or long-term environmental damage. For example, since conditions in the Middle East have seen population transfer also known as unplanned migration result in several million refugees fleeing countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The sudden development of often huge refugee camps can affect water supplies, cause land damage such as felling of trees for fuel or pollute environments lack of sewerage systems.
Unplanned migration is not only difficult for refugees. Having so many people living so closely together without adequate infrastructure causes environmental damage too.
Population composition The composition of a population can also affect the surrounding environment.
At present, the global population has both the largest proportion of young people under 24 and the largest percentage of elderly people in history. As young people are more likely to migrate, this leads to intensified urban environmental concerns, as listed above.
Life expectancy has increased by approximately 20 years since While this is a triumph for mankind, and certainly a good thing for the individual, from the planet's point of view it is just another body that is continuing to consume resources and produce waste for around 40 per cent longer than in the past.
Ageing populations are another element to the multi-faceted implications of demographic population change, and pose challenges of their own. For example between andJapan's proportion of people over 65 grew from 7 per cent to more than 20 per cent of its population. This has huge implications on the workforce, as well as government spending on pensions and health care. Increasing lifespans are great for individuals and families.
But with more generations living simultaneously, it puts our resources under pressure. Population income is also an important consideration. The uneven distribution of income results in pressure on the environment from both the lowest and highest income levels.
They may also be forced to deplete scarce natural resources, such as forests or animal populations, to feed their families. On the other end of the spectrum, those with the highest incomes consume disproportionately large levels of resources through the cars they drive, the homes they live in and the lifestyle choices they make.
On a country-wide level, economic development and environmental damage are also linked. The least developed nations tend to have lower levels of industrial activity, resulting in lower levels of environmental damage. The most developed countries have found ways of improving technology and energy efficiency to reduce their environmental impact while retaining high levels of production.
It is the countries in between—those that are developing and experiencing intense resource consumption which may be driven by demand from developed countries —that are often the location of the most environmental damage. Population consumption While poverty and environmental degradation are closely interrelated, it is the unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, primarily in developed nations, that are of even greater concern.
For many, particularly in industrialised countries, the consumption of goods and resources is just a part of our lives and culture, promoted not only by advertisers but also by governments wanting to continually grow their economy.
Culturally, it is considered a normal part of life to shop, buy and consume, to continually strive to own a bigger home or a faster car, all frequently promoted as signs of success.
It may be fine to participate in consumer culture and to value material possessions, but in excess it is harming both the planet and our emotional wellbeing. More clothes, more gadgets, bigger cars, bigger houses—consuming goods and resources has big effects on our planet.
The environmental impact of all this consumption is huge. The mass production of goods, many of them unnecessary for a comfortable life, is using large amounts of energy, creating excess pollution, and generating huge amounts of waste. To complicate matters, environmental impacts of high levels of consumption are not confined to the local area or even country.
This enables them to enjoy the products without having to deal with the immediate impacts of the factories or pollution that went in to creating them. On a global scale, not all humans are equally responsible for environmental harm. Consumption patterns and resource use are very high in some parts of the world, while in others—often in countries with far more people—they are low, and the basic needs of whole populations are not being met.
The reverse was also true—for example the population of North America grew only 4 per cent between andwhile its carbon emissions grew by 14 per cent. Individuals living in developed countries have, in general, a much bigger ecological footprint GLOSSARY ecological footprintThe impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources.
The ecological footprint is a standardised measure of how much productive land and water is needed to produce the resources that are consumed, and to absorb the wastes produced by a person or group of people.
Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. Global Footprint Network When Australian consumption is viewed from a global perspective, we leave an exceptionally large 'ecological footprint'—one of the largest in the world.
While the average global footprint is 2. To put this in perspective, if the rest of world lived like we do in Australia, we would need the equivalent of 3.
Similarly, an American has an ecological footprint almost 9 times larger than an Indian—so while the population of India far exceeds that of the United States, in terms of environmental damage, it is the American consumption of resources that is causing the higher level of damage to the planet.
What is the solution? How do we solve the delicate problem of population growth and environmental limitations? Joel Cohen, a mathematician and author characterised potential solutions in the following way: Advances in food production technologies such as agriculture, water purification and genetic engineering may help to feed the masses, while moving away from fossil fuels to renewable power sources such as wind and solar will go some way to reducing climate change.
In the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP released a report titled ' Decoupling 2 ', which explored the possibilities and opportunities of technology and innovation to accelerate decoupling, and an analysis of how far technical innovation can go.
Funding and research should be a high priority in these areas, but we must accept that technology can only do so much, and is only part of the solution. Investing in clean energy is one way to reduce our environmental strain on the planet.
Birth rates naturally decline when populations are given access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, education for boys and girls beyond the primary level is encouraged and made available, and women are empowered to participate in social and political life.Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained
Continuing to support programs and policies in these areas should see a corresponding drop in birth rates. Similarly, as the incomes of individuals in developing countries increase, there is a corresponding decrease in birth rates. This is another incentive for richer countries to help their poorer neighbours reach their development potential. Moreover, degraded environment can accelerate the process of impoverishment, again because the poor depend directly on natural assets.
Lack of opportunities for gainful employment in villages and the ecological stresses is leading to an ever-increasing movement of poor families to towns.
Rising population and environmental degradation.
Mega cities are emerging and urban slums are expanding. Such rapid and unplanned expansion of cities has resulted in degradation of urban environment. It has widened the gap between demand and supply of infrastructural services such as energy, housing, transport, communication, education, water supply and sewerage and recreational amenities, thus depleting the precious environmental resource base of the cities.
The result is the growing trend in deterioration of air and water quality, generation of wastes, the proliferation of slums and undesirable land use changes, all of which contribute to urban poverty.
Direct impacts of agricultural development on the environment arise from farming activities which contribute to soil erosion, land salination and loss of nutrients. The spread of green revolution has been accompanied by over exploitation of land and water resources, and use of fertilizers and pesticides have increased many fold. Shifting cultivation has also been an important cause of land degradation.
Leaching from extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers is an important source of contamination of water bodies.
Population and environment: a global challenge - Curious
Intensive agriculture and irrigation contribute to land degradation particularly salination, alkalization and water logging. Environmental degradation is a result of the dynamic inter-play of socio-economic, institutional and technological activities. Environmental changes may be driven by manyfactors including economic growth, population growth, urbanization, intensification of agriculture, rising energy use and transportation.
Poverty, still remains a problem at the root of several environmental problems. It would not be exaggerated if stated that the major international wars to be fought in the future will continue to be over natural resources. Power conflicts and self-interest will perhaps mean that, there will be gross violation of basic rights and death or misery for millions of innocent people.
Throughout history, most wars have had trade and resources at their core, fueled by imperialistic motives. In future as well, perhaps this pattern is likely to continue, as resources get depleted, distributed unequally and wasted in these wars hot and coldadditional conflicts and contention will arise through access to even more limited resources.
We see numerous causes of poverty, and many are found in unfair economic and trade agreements from wealthier nations and institutions.