The global rate of human population growth peaked around 1963, but the number of people living on Earth—and sharing finite resources like water and food—has grown by more than two-thirds since then, topping out at over 6.6 billion today. Human population is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050. Environmentalists don’t dispute that many if not all of the environmental problems from climate change to species loss to overzealous resource extraction are either caused or exacerbated by population growth. “Trends such as the loss of half of the planet’s forests, the depletion of most of its major fisheries, and the alteration of its atmosphere and climate are closely related to the fact that human population expanded from mere millions in prehistoric times to over six billion today,” says Robert Engelman of Population Action International.
Population Growth Causes Multiple Environmental Problems
According to Population Connection, population growth since 1950 is behind the clearing of 80 percent of rainforests, the loss of tens of thousands of plant and wildlife species, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of some 400 percent and the development or commercialization of as much as half of the Earth’s surface land. The group fears that in the coming decades half of the world’s population will be exposed to “water-stress” or “water-scarce” conditions, which are expected to intensify difficulties in meeting…consumption levels, and wreak devastating effects on our delicately balanced ecosystems.
Is Access to Contraception an Environmental Imperative?
In less developed countries, lack of access to birth control, as well as cultural traditions that encourage women to stay home and have babies, lead to rapid population growth. The result is ever increasing numbers of poor people across Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere who suffer from malnourishment, lack of clean water, overcrowding, inadequate shelter, and AIDS and other diseases....
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