The main cause of environmental degradation is the size of the human population.

Topics: World population, Population, Population growth Pages: 7 (1875 words) Published: November 19, 2003
Fast population growth and global environmental transformation is two subjects that have received considerable public thought over the past several decades. Population boost become a global public policy issue during the mind twentieth century as mortality declines in many developing nations were not matched with reductions in fertility resulting in unprecedented growth rates.

Since Population size is naturally linked to the environment as a result of individual resource needs as well as individual contributions to pollution. As a result, population increase yields heightened demands on air, water, and land environments, because they offer essential assets and act as sinks for environmental pollutants.

Concern with environmental change has come to forefront primarily since 1970, with discernible levels of environmental degradation fuelling public concern with the scope of contemporary environmental transformations and the advent of satellite imagery aiding environmental research (Colombo B. et all 1996).

At the present date are estimated roughly 6.5 billion people in the world and the figure continues to multiply. In contrast there are a restricted number of natural resources. On the worldwide root the human population has revealed a J shaped pattern (fig 1 and 2) of escalation over the past years, while the availability of natural funds are mandatory for human survival is in slow decline (Cohen J.E.1995).

Fig 1 Human population growth till 2000 (2)

Population policies which gears to reduce future growth represent logical responses to the environmental implications of population size (Stern et all 1995) although fertility diminution cannot be seen as sufficient response to contemporary human induced environmental change. A decrease in human numbers does not necessarily suggest a decrease in environmentally significant behaviours.

In addition, supposition that each further individual has an equal impact on resources is too simplistic. Factors related to both the individual and to the social and environmental contexts will determine the ultimate nature of the relationship. For instance, the cultural context into which an individual is born will influence that individual's relationship with the environment empirical evidence suggests that a child born in the United States will produce 10 times the pollution of a child born in Bangladesh (Stern et all 1995). Much of this is the product of consumption patterns where income focused life routine changes increase the amount of energy and materials consumed. One study suggests that, on average the Environmental Implications of Population Dynamics age, each American devour more than 50 kilograms (approximately 110 pounds) of material per day, excluding water. The vast majority of this includes the materials required for the production and distribution of consumer goods (1).

Fig 2 Estimated world population growth according to main fertility scenario (UNFPA 1997)

The trends in fertility and mortality combine to yield the population projections presented in Figure 2. According to medium-fertility projections by the United Nations Population Division, world population could reach 8.9 billion in 2050 and may ultimately stabilize at nearly 11 billion around 2100. This represents a near doubling of the current world population (UNFPA1997).

The alarming ecological effects of population size are certainly not new. British economist Thomas Malthus (2) presaged of the "sustainability" of unrestricted population growth more than 200 years ago, arguing that human population has a tendency to exceed the ability of the environment to provide subsistence. In particular, Malthus suggested that unrestrained population growth would exceed the ability of the Earth to provide sufficient provisions (2). Although this viewpoint has been criticized for its simplistic focus on population size as the sole driving force in resource change. Malthus initiated a debate on carrying...

References: oSherbinin A d., Dompkin, V. (1998), Water and Population Dynamics: Case Studies and Policy Implications, Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science, pp. 25-48.
oAllen J. C., Barnes, D. F (1985) The causes of deforestation in developing countries. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 75: 163-184.
oCampbell, M. M., (1998) Schools of Thought: An Analysis of Interest Groups Influential in International Population Policy, Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 19,6, pp. 487-512.
oColombo, B., Demeny, P. and Perutz, M.F. (1996) resources and pupolation: natural instituitional and demographic Dimensions of development, Oxford U.K.: Clarence press pp. 254-268.
oCohen, J. E. (1995) how many people can earth support? New York: W.W. Norton and company, p 82
oCramer, J
oGoudie, A., Heather V., (1997). The Earth Transformed: An Introduction to Human Impacts on the Environment, Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishers
oLanly J
oMeadows, Donella H., Meadows, Dennis L. Randers, J. (1992). Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future, White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Publishing Company,
oStern, P
oSouthwick, Charles H., (1996) Global Ecology in Human Perspective Oxford Univ. Press, pp.159-182.
oUnited Nations Population Fund (1997) Population, Resources and the environment, London: UNFPA
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