As we look around us, we can actually see how things are becoming over crowded. Lines at the store, driving on the highways and how schools classrooms are getting bigger. This is all due to the human population intensifying. We add about a million and half people to our world population every week! What effects is this having on our environment? Is it hurting our water systems and changing our climates? What can we do as a society to help or change what is happening to our precious planet? Today, I am going to discuss the problems that our planet is having due to overpopulation. When talking about the impact of human population some of the hot topics deal with the carrying capacity, environmental issues and our quality of life as a whole. All three of these areas are intertwined with one another and deal directly with the human population. Our planet is facing serious dangers as the population increases in size.
It is in our nature to adapt and overcome. When it comes to our population the environment can only take so much. "The principle factors affecting climate change are the growth of human population and consumption" (Rosa, E. 2007). Human interactions with the environment deal directly on how our planet endures the "carrying capacity". Carrying capacity refers to the maximum size of the population of a given species that can be supported in a given environment on a long-term basis" (Cunningham, Cunningham and Saigo, 2005). Since the environment can change rapidly, the carrying capacity has the same change mechanisms as well. Our population is connected to both natural and social aspects. When deciding when a region is overpopulated, it is not land area that is measured but the carrying capacity. As I was doing my research, I found that very interesting that different areas determine how the population is measured. It can be altered by improved technology, but usually it is changed for the worse by pressures which accompany a population increase. As the environment is degraded, carrying capacity actually shrinks, leaving the environment no longer able to support itself. No population can live beyond the environment's carrying capacity for very long period of time (Engleman, R. 2011).
Now that we understand how the planet deals with the carrying capacity, we need to take a look at how the environment impacts our earth. Food production and water resources are two important areas that need to be addressed. "Human food production capabilities are impressive" (Bacon, D. 2007). A good point though, is that most of the food produced does not go directly to the mouths of humans. Much of the food produced (i.e. grains) are for livestock. Production is not the challenge, it is the environmental impacts of producing the goods. Much of the soil that we use is considered "poor soil" (Bacon, D. 2007). As more people are added to the planet, it will ultimately hurt our farmlands. When there are not enough farmlands available, this will hurt food production and that will spiral down to our overall consumption. One of our other big resources is water. The total water supply on our Earth remains constant but most of it exists from the oceans. Currently, China, India, Africa and the Middle East are facing severe crisis due to lack of fresh water. As the increase of population continues, the United States will face shortages as well. There are ways to desalinate water, but it is very expensive. Currently, Tampa Bay is the first American city to desalinate water. When working with this process, there are other issues that have to be looked at as well. Other resources are needed for this process. Water is a necessity for our daily survival. We not only need it for ourselves but for agriculture, industry and recreation (Bacon, D. 2007). As our world increases with people, it will affect our water in a matter that cannot be overlooked.
As population size increases, it is hurting our fisheries, forests, and agricultural lands. Huge regions are experiencing desertification. Desertification deals directly with the low priority given to environmental protection which leads to poor land management decisions. (Mosquin, T. 2006). The overuse of land may result from specific economic conditions. For the most part desertification can be controlled by human activity. This is by people not misusing the land, but by the pressures of too many people living in an area. Ecologists have come up with the idea that our ecosystems be brought back to or restored to natural functioning systems. This could help the overall strains that our population is dealing with. Scientists are saying that the only way that are planet can overcome the population issues is thru plague, famine and warfare (Mosquin, T. 2006). That is a scary thought that scientists believe that destruction and disaster are the only ways to slow down the population growth.
Everyone wants to live in a healthy environment. With overpopulation becoming a big problem, it will affect our everyday quality of life. We strive for the American dream, to have our children grow up in a healthy environment. It wakes you up when you see the statistics that in the last 10,000 years the human population has increased from 5-10 million to about 7 billion. It is almost unimaginable. Pollution and waste-treatment processes are brought into the scenario as well. We can't wait for some technological fix that will solve all of our problems. Problems need to be addressed and brought to the attention to our government. It seems that many people are in denial when it comes to the whole overpopulation issue. It is a serious problem that has to be addressed and strategies need to be placed.
When it comes to the biological impact of our planet and the human population, there are areas that have to be looked at. One important aspect is awareness and education on the matters at hand. If the current population continues to grow, we will reach 8 billion by 2020 and 9 to 15 billion by 2050 (Eldridge, N. 2005). What will this mean to you and I? What can we do? Awareness is one of them, but it is up to our government to help us. "There is no magic bullet. The ramifications for our society are potentially profound. We will have to change our values in the way we have been doing things" (Rosa, E. 2007). Currently, the most important issue is to make sure the human race has enough food and clean water to survive. Another huge issue is the climate changes that are occurring. Global climate change is being addressed by politicians and the media. The question is, are we doing enough? Efforts are being made to reduce carbon emissions. That being said, this does help the overall climate and the ozone layer. There is little evidence of political discussion in the media around the subject of overpopulation and its impact on global climate change. "When it comes to global warming, we're ignoring one simple truth: The Earth doesn't care about per-capita greenhouse-gas production. It's the total amount of CO2 in the air that matters" (Hart, J. 2008).
They say that change is a hard pill to swallow. If something is not done, our planet could become extinct and the world as we know it will no longer be. As one can see, if issues are not taken, and if we do not take a stand, our planet could end being extinct. We do not want to leave this planet knowing that our children and grand-children will be facing such huge issues as time goes on. We need to do what we can now, to help not only ourselves, but our planet as a whole.
Bacon, D. (2007). About World Population Balance. Retrieved from
Birdsall, N., A.C. Kelley, S. Sinding (eds). Population Matters: Demographic Change, Economic Growth, and Poverty in the Developing World. Oxford University Press, 2003. Cunningham, W., Cunningham, M., and Saigo, B. (2005). Environmental science: a global concern. Boston: McGraw Hill. Davis, J. (2006). Human Population and Ecology. Retrieved from
Eldridge, N. (2005). Overpopulation and Extinction. Retrieved from
Engleman, R. (2011). What a Population of 7 billion People Means for the Planet
Hart, J. (2008). Treading on a Taboo. Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/overpopulation-and-climate-change-a194798
Mosquin, T. (2006). Human Population: Why set One Billion as the Upper limit? Retrieved from
Rosa, E. (2007). Population, Consumption Climate Change and Environmental Degradation.
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