Population growth is one of the major environmental issues today. Some people argue, that rapidly growing population is not only problem and humans will not destroy life-support system on which we all depend. Contrary some argue that growing population is a key driver factor of environmental destruction. The purpose of this research project is to explain the main arguments of both sides and to recommend possible action in order to face with most important problems. Many countries see contradictory the problem of population growth. Those country with relatively low population growth but high rates of consumption said that the population is a main problem. On the other hand countries with low level of consumption but high birth rates said that the consumption is a main problem. http://priven.com/popsprawl.html This debate is one of the main issues in modern view of environment, so which policy we should apply? Should we try to reduce population growth or consumption, or perhaps both?
2.Human population History
According to Cunningham (2000) for a most of human history, population growth was very slow. Many studies of hunting and gathering societies show that the total world population wasn’t more than a few million people before innovation of agriculture and the domestication of animals around 10,000 years ago. The bigger and more secure food supply results in human population to growth, reaching perhaps 50 million people (b.c). Moreover, some historical evidence and description suggest that only about 300 million people were living at the time of Christ. During the Middle Age, many diseases and wars held world population. The main reasons were lack of hygiene and life condition and as consequence made human life short and uncertain. During the most destructive disease, plaque that took many lives between 1348 and 1350, it is estimated that at least one-third of European population perished.
At the end of last great plague, there ware about 600 million people on the earth. After 1600 human population increase rapidly and in 1800 reach one billion. It took a century and a half more to reach the 1950 figure of 2.5 billion. But in a post World War II period the populations was doubled in less than forty years, and exceed 5 billion. By the year 2000 world population had passed six billion. Today we are facing with a human population explosion, in other words every second approximately four or five children are born somewhere on the earth and in the same second two other people die. This means that we have increasing by an average of 250,000 in human population per day, which is equivalent of another Switzerland every 30 days, and a new China every 30 years.
When we discussed population growth we must consider that 90% of the projected growth come from undeveloped or currently developed nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America. In these developing countries there are a number of socio-economic realities that lead women to have more children. In economies that depend on family or communal agriculture, children are an economic assets: they provide a valuable labour and the cost of rising them are very low. Many communities around the world still have limited access on adequate health care facilities, which often result in a high infant mortality rates and low life expectancy.
When family lose, on average one in tree or four children they usually chose to have as many as it possible in order to maximize the number of children that will survive. On the other hand in developed countries where there are fewer educational and carrier opportunities, there tends to be earlier marriage and child – bearing. In some countries woman often start having babies when they are 15 years old, which result in more children per couple
3. Limiting population as a central strategy in protecting environment
The debate about whether human population growth is a fundamental cause of ecological problems and whether limiting population should be a central strategy in protecting the environment has long historical roots.
The rapid growing of population led the British classical economist Thomas Malthus in 1798 to write Essay on the Principle of Population as it affects the Future Improvement of Society. (Harris, 2001) He warned that the human races will excide productivity capacity, leading to food crisis and poverty. History has proved Malthusian hypothesis wrong His predictions were undetermined by technological improvement. On the other hand, if we consider a more sophisticated variation, the argument that a growing human population and economy system will eventually outrun its biophysical support system, we can see that the debate has strong current relevance.
Authors such as Paul and Anne Ehrlich published The population Bomb (1968) and later The population explosion (1990) warned that continuing population growth could overcome all the benefits of modern science and economic growth and result in devastated and miserable planet. This Neo-Malthusians point of view achieved more attention and provides the strong point in debate on population growth. According to this approach a limiting population growth would be result in solving many environmental problems however result vary a lot, depending on which country or which type of damage we are looking at.
According to the Harrison (1994) the case of Madagascar shows clear links between growing population and land degradation. Madagascar’s forests have been reduced to a narrowing strip along the eastern escarpment. Of the original forest cover 27.6 million acres; only 18.8 acres remained in 1950. Today the number of acres forest is only 9.4 acres, which means that habitat for the island’s unique wild life has been halved in just forty years. Another example, which shows the process at work, is one village, Ambodiaviavy, near Ranomafana. Fifty years ago the whole area was dense forest. After French colonials burned down the old village, eight families came in Ambodiaviavy in 1947.
At firstly they formed only valley bottoms, which they easily irrigated from the stream running down from the top of hills. There was no shortage on land and each family took as much of land as they were capable of working. After forty-tree years number of families grew to thirty-six but all-cultivable lands was occupied, so they started to clear forest, today they two-thirds of the way to the hilltop. Quite simply, more people on a planet will mean more resource to support them.
·See level are arising
It is not surprising that many criminologists are now warning that a massive global climate shift is underway and the main reason are human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuel. Problems like erosion, acid rain or global warning sometimes we do not even know where they are happening until they are far advanced, as in a case of ozone hole. Many scientists predict that thermal expansion of seawater and melting of glaciers and polar ice will result to a metre rise in a see level over a next 100 years. One billion people may be at risk from a one-metre rise in a see level; many in the poorest countries while many of the low-lying Pacific and Indian Ocean nations may disappear. The thousand glaciers in east Himalayas have disappeared over the last century, 92% of Kenya’s largest glacier has gone over the same interval, Artic sea-ice has thinned 40% in the last 30 years, and the Greenland ice-sheet has thinned 6 metres since 1992. www.population.org.an/pressrm/newslet/nl200212.pdf One of the most threatening possibilities is that a massive inflow of cold fresh water from the Artic will halt the Gulf Stream, which drives much of the global ocean circulation.
As a consequence this would cause Europe to freeze while the rest of the world sweltered. Rather than wait for global crisis dictates that we should take an action now. However, most analysts accept that increasing population places extra stress on the environment and resources, and there is broad agreement that limiting population is necessary. But how is to be accomplished? According to the Harris (2001) most well known example of this is China’s “one-child” family policy. Birth rates can fall rapidly, however especially woman reach higher level of education, literacy, and take benefit from employment opportunities. Significant voluntary reduction of birth rates in many East Asian countries as well in the state of Kerala in India has resulted from higher levels of basic education, health care, and job security.
·Taking action to address population growth
There are many solutions that can be adopted in order to slow high growth population rates, done both by individual and community. Firstly help to develop awareness in the community, so that everyone can understands the impact of population growth on the environment. Second, respond to the media. Take action immediately to reports and comments about environmental problems and make links between population growth and environmental issue and development issue. Thirdly, support family planning initiatives, in order to inform people more about this program and to let them know the benefits that effective family planning could have for their community and the whole global environment. Another step could be encouraging all levels of government support (both expertise and founds). And finally develop special program for women that create more opportunities for them to enter, re- enter or stay it the workforce, especially in undeveloped countries.
4. Population growth: opposing factor
According to Harrison (1994) socialist from William Cobbett to Karl Marx attacked Malthus’s arguments that population growth need immediate limit. U. S. land reformer Henry George in Progress and poverty (1879) that a huge U. S. population growth had surged side by side with a huge increase in prosperity. Economist Julian Simmon see moderate population growth not a problem at all. Instead of limiting population, more people mean more brain to think up more solutions. ” There is no meaningful limit to our capacity to keep growing forever. ” he wrote in 1981 in the Ultimate Resource. There can be benefits as wall as disadvantages in large human population. According to the Cunningham (2000) more people mean larger markets, more workers and continuing scale of mass production. Large number of people also means more intelligence and enterprise to overcome problems such as pollution or resource limitation. Human creativity and intelligence can create new resource by substituting new materials for old materials.
Technology will discover practically limitless new or replacement resources, that pollution will be controlled by technology. While population’s growth rates are definitely an issue, the size of human population is not the only determinant on the impact on the environment. The impact of people on their environment is not only in their number but also in their location in biosphere theirs level on consumption of energy and materials, and the technology used to attain a given standard of living. Mahatma Gandhi said 50 years ago that there is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone greed. According to the Alan Durning of the Worldwatch Institute, population acts as a multiplayer.
Therefore, the total human impact on the global environment can be reduced by the moderating consumption. For example, industrialized nations, home of 22 % of the world’s population, consume 60% of the world’s food, 70 % of its energy and 85 % of its wood. They generate almost three- quarters off all carbon dioxide emission, which make them the main causes of most of the ozone depletion. (Hartman, 1994). Moreover, there are numerous countries where governments use inappropriate incentives for a food production, such as excessive subsidies may result from poor policy planning.
·Taking community action to address Unsustainable Consumption
Many different actions can be implement in order to promote the concept of sustainable consumption. One of the actions is to help build awareness. Every individuals, organization and community can help aiming to change attitudes and behavioural toward environmental sound product selection and lifestyle choice. It can be operate an environmental awareness program, which explore links between local production, consumption and environment, while motivating people to change their own behaviour. Another step is work with schools and the media in order to inform future generation. Also to promote green- consumption, encouraging people to purchase “environmentally-sound” product whenever they are available.
There are many reasons that population growth has direct impact on environment. But which strategy we should choose in order to face with this problem? In the face of such uncertainty, we must ask what is at stake in the risky we chose to take. If the pessimist views of limits on the Earth turn out to be correct, the horror and misery that would unfold as a result of continued population growth. On the other hand, if optimists turn out to be correct, there will be many generations ahead in which a gift of life can be extended to additional billions. It is obvious that we need more than one strategy for dealing with growth. Therefore, solving a planet’s ecological crisis is not just about a having small families. Consumers also need to take responsibilities. It also should take into account the long-term effect of those action could have on ecosystem at both local and global levels.
Aaron org. (1999) Population Growth and Sprawl. [On line] Available from:
http://www.priven.com/popsprawl.html Accessed: 17.11.2002
AESP, December 2000 Population: The neglected Element in the Greenhouse Debate [On line] Available from:
http://www.population.org.an/pressrm/newslet/nl200012.pdf Accessed: 15.11.2002
Cunningham and Saigo, Environmental Science, Global Concern, McGraw Hull, 7th edition, 2002 p. 137-158
Harris M. J. (2001) Population and Environment. [on line] Available from:
http://www.esig.ucar.edu/kuob/text.html Accessed: 17.11.2002.
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