How the One Child Policy Is Good for the Environment

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  • Topic: Population, Demography, People's Republic of China
  • Pages : 11 (3440 words )
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  • Published : October 28, 2012
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Elleka Watts
EVPP 337
Section 004
Fall Semester
Case Study Final

An Evaluation of the One-Child Policy in a New Context: Is Population Capping the Answer to Environmental Sustainability?

Case Study Country and Policy
This case study will evaluate the One-Child Policy’s (OCP) effects on population growth in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in an environmental context. The author argues the OCP is environmentally sound because of its inherent purpose of retarding China’s population growth rate. Administering population caps has prevented additional environmental degradation that would otherwise have occurred had the OCP not been implemented. High-growth populations consume scarce limited resources which have adverse effects on the habitats and ecosystems in the local environment. In a world where the population is too high to sustain its limited resources, this is a major issue and leads to further problems such as environmental degradation and population starvation (Hardin, 1968; Young, 2005). The OCP has saved resources from being otherwise consumed by those unborn, and prevents China’s rate of environmental destruction from being more massive than it already is. This paper argues that the policy helps environmental sustainability and therefore the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should continue enforcing the OCP. Other nations with high-growth rates should also consider implementing similar policies. Capping may be necessary in order to stop the direst environmental issue of all time – overpopulation. Capping may lessen the consequences of overpopulation such as its associated environmental challenges, poverty, inequality and economic instability as well (National, 2011). This paper advocates only for implementing population caps and does not endorse the cruel methods of policy execution the PRC has used for the OCP. Other suggestions for enforcement will be provided in the conclusion of this paper.

Why is Overpopulation such a Problem?
In 2011, the world’s population has just reached 7 billion people (National, 2011). Out of those 7 billion, China’s population is now at almost 1.4 billion people. The main issues with China’s enormous population and high-growth rate are that they pollute the environment around them and consume resources at alarmingly fast rates. Overcrowding can create “environmental spillovers that pose health and safety hazards, especially for those living in neighborhoods without sanitation or drainage and in potential disaster zones” (World Bank, 2003). Within the last decade, agriculture and manufacturing activities have contributed to surface and ground water pollution while clean water is a resource that is desperately in demand (Jensen, 2010). As for air pollution, a lot of it “is caused by the combustion of biofuels and fossil fuels in home cooking and heating stoves, industrial boilers, power plants and vehicles” With coal in particular, it releases pollutants such as anthracite, bituminous, and sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides (Banister, 1998). As more overcrowding occurs in urban areas, these pollutants will only continue to accumulate and create more problems. Since most population increases occur in urban areas where resources are already spread thin, overcrowding puts additional pressures on them. Resource consumption from over-population has directly affected the ecosystems and habitats in the local environment. “Over the past 30 years, China has lost millions of hectares of forests, croplands and grasslands to urbanization, desertification and industrial use, contaminated 80% of surface water beyond human use, and [has] heavily polluted the air… [and] has significantly reduced the quality of life” (He, 2009). Such depletion has caused the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of habitats for many species, thus endangering their survival. With the population straining the environment as severely as it...
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