Dependence of Man on the Environment
Population Control: Effects on the Global Environment
The debate of population control is by no means a new phenomenon. Since early times it has been on the minds of many people. Population lies at the heart of this debate and while there is no argument that humans are increasing daily, the question arises in whether this is a problem or rather a natural occurrence which will level off on its own. The thing that makes this so hard to figure out is that there are many examples for both cases and all of them are very plausible. This is by no means a problem with only one aspect; rather it involves the entire world and our way of life. It encompasses environment, food, water, air, ground, and our (that means human) interactions. Very few would doubt these days that we face a very serious environmental crisis. Increasingly the world is plagued by pollution of air, seas, land, food and drinking water. We live in a world of ozone depletion, deforestation and global warming. The overall growth of the human population in the last 2000 years has been a J-shaped growth. This can also be expressed as an exponential growth. A big question that can only be answered in time is how this population growth will slow down or stop. The planet can only handle so many humans before the effects of overpopulation send the environment into an unrecoverable tailspin of degradation. “The human population reached 6.1 billion in 2000. The United Nations projects that world population for the year 2050 could range from 7.9 billion to 10.9 billion, depending on the actions we take today” (Shah, 2002).
The question remains, and is often argued by both sides. Is limiting population growth a key factor in protecting the global environment? On the “yes” side of the issue, “supporters argue that stabilizing the world population is central to preventing overconsumption of environmental resources” (Easton, 2006). Humans, unlike any other animal on the planet, have the ability to effect the environment in which they live. Problems with air pollution, nutrient depletion in farmlands, acid rain, global warming, and a host of other environmental factors have lead to the increased need for environmental cleanup. “As the 21st century begins, numbers of people and rising levels of consumption per capita are depleting natural resources and degrading the environment” (Shah, 2002).
According to some, the human population growth is the number one threat to the world’s environment. Each person requires energy, space and resources. With an ever growing population, there is a list of environmental impacts. “Currently, 434 million people face either water stress or scarcity” (Brown, 2005). If this rate continues, more and more people will face water scarcity. Fisheries are already being fished to their capacity. The number of forest scarce countries is expected to double. Global warming is an ever growing problem, and a growing population would only make it worse.
“Worldwide, the percentage of the population with access to clean freshwater increased during the 1990s. Nevertheless, the rapid population growth, currently an estimated 1.2 billion people lack potable water – 20% more than 1990” (Shah, 2002). Overpopulation is degrading the Earth’s ocean and other water sources, and by doing so will only lessen our water supply for the future; it will also hurt the animals living in the water. With fewer people there is less pollution released, leaving more time for the pollution to be degraded. Even though the two thirds of Earth is water, not all of it is available for use. “By 2025, at least 37 nations could experience a severe demand for water” (Brown, 2005).
Besides water, overpopulation is polluting the air we breathe, and causing many unwanted results as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and...