Overpopulation and Its Environmental Effects Term Paper

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And what about jobs, housing, and health care for all these people?" (Global Warming Is Really Happening).

One of fundamental causes of this situation is the growth of technology. The Industrial Revolution not only created new forms of labor and industry but also led to an increase in the urban population. "There is a link between technology, overpopulation and the decline in the environment leads to increases in CO2 levels follows growth in population" (the EFFECTS of GLOBAL WARMING).

The following graph outlines some that ways that increased population and consumption impacts on the environment.

Source: (http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/1848/global.html)

Figure 4. The following diagram illustrates the increase in CO2 emission over time.

Source: (http://fixco1.com/bushglobalwarming.html)

It should also be emphasized that overpopulation plays a very important role in global warming. And that global warming is "not just an environmental term... But it is a catastrophic shift in the ecological balance that took the earth billions of years to achieve. It is a snowball event that will produce compounding effects over time. Global warming is really a global melt down" (Global Warming Is Really Happening).

B. The Impact of Overpopulation around the globe

There are many analyses of the differences between the developed and less developed regions of the word with regard to these issues. In most cases less developed countries show a much greater population increase, compared to a reduction of population growth in many advanced and developed countries. This in effect means that those countries that can least afford resources and spaces for increased populations are often the ones to bear the brunt of overpopulation - with associated affects on the environment in those countries.

For example, one study notes, "... more than 95% of that increase is going to take place in the world's less developed nations. (Outline of the World Environmental Crisis) Overpopulation is therefore concentrated in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America "... where almost all of the natural increase (i.e., the excess of births over deaths) in population will occur." (Outline of the World Environmental Crisis)

Figure 5. Most overpopulated regions.

Source. http://humanities.cqu.edu.au/geography/GEOG11024/week_1.htm

In contrast to this picture, the more developed countries such as Japan and countries in Europe have shown a decline in the birth rate." In Australia, as in the U.S.A., Canada, and New Zealand, 'natural increase' is also at 'zero population growth' levels, and only ongoing immigration keeps their populations growing." (Outline of the World Environmental Crisis) This situation can be clearly discerned from the following table of selected counties in different regions

Figure 6: Population, Selected Countries, 2000 and 2050 (est.)


Population 2000 (millions)

Estimated Population 2050 (millions)

Increase 2000-2050 (millions)

Increase 2000-2050 (%)










Source: Outline of the World Environmental Crisis)

The above analysis has a number or central implications for the environment. As most population growth occurs in less-developed countries this means that the countries generally do not have the technical expertise or the infrastructure to deal with environmental issues that occur as a result of overpopulation.

However, it is also equally important to realize that "...existing populations in the more developed countries already have environmental impacts on their own environments and on global ecosystems and resources that are both highly destructive and unsustainable in the long run" (Impacts, 2008). The point is also made by experts that due to the high level of industrialization there is an increase in pollution levels. Many industrial countries actually create a situation that is more detrimental to the environment than poorer countries.

There are many cases that can be cited of the way that overpopulation affects different areas of the world. A recent report by the World Bank states that the environment is Vietnam is deteriorating. This deterioration is affecting the delicate ecosystems of the country. The report states that "... 10% of the world's species are in Vietnam, but, of Vietnam's endemic species, 28% of mammals, 10% of birds and 21% of reptile and amphibian species are now endangered due to habitat loss and hunting" (Impacts, 2008). Furthermore, it was found that the area of cultivated land has increased by 38% but that, "50% of the land has poor soils due to human activity..." (Impacts, 2008). Most of the coral reefs are also affected while almost all the mangrove swamps in the country have been lost. These aspects are also related to the increase in the local population of the country. Similar findings can be gleaned for a report entitled; Population growth threatens East Asian Coasts by Blanchard (2006).
This report also indicates an important contributing factor in the relationship between increased population and environmental damage; namely an increase in economic prosperity. "Growing populations and booming economies are threatening fragile coastal areas in East Asia, and the region's coral reefs could face total collapse within 20 years" (Blanchard, 2006). The report also goes on to state that while there have been improved economic situations in the region, the rapid growth and the related population increase has had a severely detrimental effect on the local environment. This is especially the case with regard to the marine environment. The report states that, "Growing populations and their migration to coastal areas, dynamic economic growth, and rising global demands for fishery and aquatic products... have combined to exert tremendous pressure on East Asia's marine environment and coastal resources" (Blanchard K. 2006). The study also goes on to state that if the current rate of environmental degradation continues in the area the coral reefs, which are essential for marine ecology, will collapse in about twenty years. (Blanchard K. 2006)

C. Environmental Effects Involved

The above analysis leads to a more detailed assessment of the actual environmental effects of overpopulation in the modern world. The United Nations Environment Program has released a report on some of the most prominent environmental effects on people and ecosystems. The report states, among others, that half of the world's wetlands were lost last century and the world's forests have been reduced by as much as half by activates such as logging. (People and Ecosystems, the Fraying Web of Life)

Other findings of the report are even more alarming. It has been found that approximately nine percent of the world's tree species are at risk of extinction and that tropical deforestation may exceed 130,000 square kilometers per year. (People and Ecosystems, the Fraying Web of Life) Another finding that clearly links these ecological and environmental issues to the problem of overpopulation is the fact that, "Fishing fleets are 40% larger than the ocean can sustain" and that "Nearly 70% of the world's major marine fish stocks are overfished or are being fished at their biological limit "(New Report Reveals Widespread Decline in World's Ecosystems).

Other findings of the report are also indicative of the results of overpopulation. For instance, it has been found that about thirty percent of the world's original forests have been converted to agriculture and "...dams, diversions or canals fragment almost 60% of the world's largest rivers" (New Report Reveals Widespread Decline in World's Ecosystems). Twenty percent of the worlds freshwater fish are extinct threatened or endangered (New Report Reveals Widespread Decline in World's Ecosystems).

There are a number of cardinal issues relating to population growth and the environment that should be remarked on. The following diagram shows the way that overpopulation and the related increase in consumption needs has led to a deterioration in environmental and health issues.

Source: (http://humanities.cqu.edu.au/geography/GEOG11024/week_1.htm)

As has been briefly referred to, one of the most worrying environmental consequences is the extermination of a growing number of species, which has been reported form many source as increasing rapidly. This is especially the case in the tropical rainforests as a result of the deterioration of basic habitat - a fact that is strongly related to the need for habitation and increased agricultural activity to feed the growing number of people. "Annual losses in recent decades of species of all kinds, most of which are insects, may be in the region of 15,000-75,000 species each year. That's about 50-200 per day..." (Outline of the World Environmental Crisis).

These facts are also related to the ongoing destruction of vital ecosystems in the world, such as coral reefs. In essence, what is in fact taking place is that as more people search for habitation and economic viability, so the destruction of vital species, organisms and ecosystems continues.

With 'economic development' (which almost always means the destruction of natural ecosystems) and with simply more poor people looking for places to eke out a living for themselves and their families, habitat loss continues to threaten the long-term viability of ecosystems all over the world.

Outline of the World Environmental Crisis).

Land degradation is another issue that is strongly linked to overpopulation. This refers to the increase in soil erosion and the depletion of soil fertility because of larger number….....

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