Population Growth is widely regarded as the most damaging factor for environment degradation. Malthus, Becker, Meadows and Ehrlich highlight this. This is what I think is the primary cause of environmental degradation. World population went from 1 billion to 3 billion people taking 156 years to achieve from 1804 to 1960. Which was slow growth compared to growth now. Since 1960 population has gone up by 1 billion people every 12 to 14 years. Showing how much the population growth has increased in recent years. Importantly it most of this population growth is from developing countries.
Figure 1 shows population growth in developing countries going out of control whilst developed countries since the early 2000s are reducing their populations. Population growth in developing countries is causing serve environmental degradation by many different ways and these are what need to be highlighted. Developing countries need to have a functioning market and a government, which can assist markets and households to save the environment.
For developing countries the main problem that comes with an increasing population is extra people. Farms need to produce more food for the increasing population, to achieve this they need more land or to make their land more productive, and then they need more people to work the land. The problem that is facing agriculture in developing countries is that the farmers need to own their land. This causes a huge amount of problems if they do not. If farmers do not have their own land they do farm sustainably. For example they won’t leave fields fallow to keep them fertile, use ecofriendly chemicals or invest in irrigation. The other issue that arises when they don’t own their land is that they don’t have any collateral to borrow against if they wish to buy capital to make their farms more productive or buy land to produce more food. These factors lead to environmental degradation because once the land is badly farmed it becomes worthless and unusable for the next farmer. This means governments need to stand in and help farmers gain tenure. This will promote good sustainable farming. It will also stop the use of harming pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. This again prevents environmental degradation. This is known as tragedy of the commons.
The easiest way for rural farmers in a developing country to become more productive is by having more children. Using their children as free labor. But this leads to the circle of poverty, because all they are doing is creating more people to feed. This is highlighted in the Malthus population trap. Creating more environmental degradation by multiplying the population even more. Malthus stated that food increase is arithmetic and population is geometric. Meaning population grows faster than food does. This means that what he called natural checks in develop occur, war, famine etc. These would halt any chance of development and cause even further environmental degradation thought war or famine (Seidl & Tisdell. 1999) As seen it is nearly impossible to stop people having children, in developing countries and in any country there is passion between the sexes. But in developed countries contraception is more widely available and due to higher incomes and better education it is used more frequently. Children are also an inferior good resulting in poorer families having more children.
Another reason why families in developing countries with low incomes have children to work is due to the benefits they bring, highlighted by Becker. Becker identified that the decisions of children are made with marginal cost and benefit attached. So for a man and woman working on a farm the costs are feeding, clothing, sheltering the child and the benefits are having an extra worker on the farm for many years and having them to look after them when they are old (Todaro, 2012). In developing countries the low benefits of having children just...
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