Global population growth creates environmental problems


Environmentalists do not dispute that many, if not all, of environmental problems – from climate change to the loss of species to excessive resource extraction – are caused or exacerbated by population growth.

“Trends such as the loss of half the world’s forests, the depletion of most of its major fisheries, and the alteration of its atmosphere and climate are closely linked to the fact that the human population has grown from a few million in prehistoric times to over six billion. today, ”says Robert Engelman of Population Action International.

Although the global rate of human population growth peaked around 1963, the number of people living on Earth – and sharing limited resources like water and food – has increased by more than two-thirds since then, reaching more than seven and a half billion today. , and the human population is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050. With the arrival of more people, how will this affect the environment more?

Population growth causes multiple environmental problems

According to Population Connection, population growth since 1950 has led to the clearing of 80 percent of tropical rainforests, the loss of tens of thousands of plant and wildlife species, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse of about 400 percent and the development or marketing of as much as half of the Earth’s land surface.

The group fears that over the next few decades, half of the world’s population will be exposed to conditions of “water stress” or “water scarcity,” which are expected to “intensify the difficulties in achieving … water levels. consumption and have devastating effects on our delicately balanced ecosystems.

In less developed countries, lack of access to birth control, along with cultural traditions that encourage women to stay home and have babies, lead to rapid population growth. The result is an ever-increasing number of poor people in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and elsewhere who suffer from malnutrition, lack of clean water, overcrowding, inadequate shelter, AIDS and other diseases.

And while the population figures in most developed countries are stabilizing or declining today, high levels of consumption are causing a huge drain on resources. Americans, for example, who make up just four percent of the world’s population, consume 25 percent of all resources.

Industrialized countries also contribute much more to climate change, ozone depletion and overfishing than developing countries. And as more residents of developing countries gain access to Western media or immigrate to the United States, they want to emulate the consumer-driven lifestyles they see on their TVs and read on the internet.

How changing U.S. policy could offset environmental damage around the world

Given the overlap of population growth and environmental issues, many would like to see a change in US policy on global family planning. In 2001, President George W. Bush instituted what some call the “global gag rule,” whereby foreign organizations that provide or support abortions have been denied financial support from the United States.

Environmentalists have considered this position short-sighted because supporting family planning is the most effective way to control population growth and relieve pressure on the planet’s environment, and hence the gag rule. Global was repealed in 2009 by President Obama but reinstated by Donald Trump in 2017.

If only the United States would lead by example by reducing consumption, reducing deforestation practices, and relying more on renewable resources in our policies and practices, maybe the rest of the world would follow suit – or , in some cases, would lead the way and the United States follows – to ensure a better future for the planet.


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