Population Regulation for Environmental Conservation Essay
Population Regulation for Environmental Conservation
In the past few years, the world’s population has been steadily rising. At present, global population growth rate is at 1.167% while world population as of July 2007 is approximately 6.6 billion (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007). Demographers predict that in the first decades of the 21st century, world population will bloat up to another 2 million (Global Science Panel, 2002).
The rapid growth of population is very alarming due to the massive threats it poses to the environment. In fact, many experts have observed that the increase of population is the major cause of environmental issues (Pebley, 1998, p. 378). This paper has identified three ways in population negatively affects the environment.
For one, an increase in population would mean an increase in the demands for resources. May these resources be natural or manmade, the main provider of these resources — food, water, and raw materials — is the environment. The environment’s resources, however, is limited. It cannot support a continuously increasing population.
Scarcity results from this constant demand of resources that the environment cannot provide. At present, the world is experiencing the effects of this scarcity. In southwestern United States, for example, the demand for water exceeded the available water flow. Researches predict that in a decade, water shortage will continue to spread eastward and northward (Resources and the Environment, 1972, p. 81).
As much as this scarcity affects people, it also affects the other components of the environment such as plants and animals. Plants and animals also compete with humans for resources. Of course, in the competition for natural resources, humans obviously have the upper hand (due to technology) while plants and animals are often left to die because of the lack of available sustenance. In extreme cases, scarcity of resources causes the extinction of plant and animal species that cannot compete with others.
Second, an increase in population signifies a need for bigger space in which people may put up settlements. Two situations may arise as an answer to this need for space. Either forestland is converted into housing areas (deforestation) or the number of people living per square area of land increases. Usually, both situations are implemented. As such, two different consequences also arise. The former often results in the destruction of natural habitats, which in turn may also lead to the extinction of species. On the other hand, pollution and poor sanitation arise from the latter. The succeeding discussion further explains this point.
Lastly, a bigger population produces larger amounts of waste. Waste here is often the by-product of consumption. As population increases, consumption also increases. To meet consumer demands, production is also increased. The unusable remains of production are disposed of as waste. After the population consumes these products, waste is also the outcome. The danger to the environment comes with waste disposal. Not everyone practices proper waste disposal. In addition, with the increasing volumes of waste products, solid waste management also becomes a problem.
Because of these problems caused by population growth, there is a need to regulate the growth of population all over the world. As such, interactions among members of the global community are important because the problem that needs to be addressed encompasses a global scale.
With regard to this, it is interesting to note that large increases in population sizes are characteristic of developing countries more than developed countries. The 2006 World Data Sheet (2006) shows that more developed countries only exhibited a 0.1 rate of natural increase while less developed countries exhibited a 1.5 – 1.8 rate of natural increase (p. 5).
The main causes for this may be the lack of proper education and awareness regarding birth control methods and family planning among developing countries and the lack of policies that encourages the population regulation. Therefore, it becomes important that in the international level, leaders of different countries commune to create international policies that push for the regulation of world population especially in developing countries. In the local level, local governments should also campaign for population control in their areas. All these efforts emphasize the need for the interaction of different communities to regulate population.
Through all these, it is evident that human beings can greatly affect the environment; humans may either affect it positively (through efforts to conserve and preserve the environment) or negatively (as shown by the negative effects of population increase to the environment). At present though, most of the effects of human activities on the environment tend to lean towards the negative end of the spectrum. The environment is suffering a lot because of this — massive air, land, and water pollution, destruction of natural habitats, and extinction of plant and animal species.
In the end, it is clear that something should be done about this destruction of the environment. Otherwise, all things on earth will suffer the grave consequences of this human abuse.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2007). The world factbook. Retrieved July 22, 2007 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/xx.html
Global science panel on sustainable development, The. (2002). Population and Development Review, 28. Retrieved July 22, 2007 from http://www.jstor.org/view/00987921/sp030002/03x0023w/0
Pebley, A. R. (1998). Demography and the environment. Demography, 35. Retrieved July 21, 2007 from http://www.jstor.org/view/00703370/di009189/00p0020b/0
Population Reference Bureau. (2006). 2006 world population data sheet. Retrieved July 22, 2007 from http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2006/2006WorldPopulationDataSheet.aspx
Resources and the environment. (1972). Studies in Family Planning, 3. Retrieved July 21, 2007 from http://www.jstor.org/view/00393665/di961137/96p0083e/0