Essay Population Growth Its Effects

Effects of Population Growth on our Environment!

One of the factors responsible for environment degradation is population growth or population density. In particular, population density plays the most important role in shaping the socio-economic environment. Its effects are felt on the natural environment also.

1. Generation of Waste:

Due to his destructive activities, man has dumped more and more waste in environment. As the man-made waste is not transformed, it causes degradation and the capacity of environment to absorb more waste is reduced. Further, waste leads to air and water pollution.

2. Threat to Biodiversity:

Due to his destructive activities, man has extracted more and more minerals from the earth. Animals have been hunted and plants have disappeared. There has been loss of biodiversity. These have led to ecological imbalance.

3. Strain on Forests:

Man has established new housing colonies. National highways and hydropower projects have been built and forests have been wiped out. These destructive activities have increased and led to ecological imbalance.

4. Urbanization:

Rapid growth of population has led to urbanization which has adversely affected environment. Due to population pressure, natural resources in the cities are depleted at a fast rate due to population pressure.

Moreover, population does not have proper sanitation facilities and pure drinking water. As a result, the health of the people is adversely affected. No doubt, urbanization reduces pressure on the rural environment, but it brings with if environmental damages through industrial growth, emissions and wastes.

5. Industrialisation:

Underdeveloped countries are following the policy of heavy industrialisation which is causing environmental degradation. The establishment of such industries as fertilizers, iron and steel, chemicals and refineries have led to land, air and water pollution.

6. Land Degradation:

Intensive farming and excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides have led to over-exploitation of land and water resources. These have led to land degradation in the form of soil erosion, water logging and salination.

7. Transport Development:

Environmental degradation is also due to transport development in the different parts of the world. The automobiles release huge quantities of poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. The development of ports and harbours have led to oil spills from ships adversely affecting fisheries, coral reefs, mangroves and landscapes.

8. Climatic Change:

Climatic changes are irregular due to green house gases. The thin skin of air that surrounds the planet is being affected by human activities as never before. Urban people are still being exposed to unaccepted levels of toxic pollutants. Further, forests are still being degraded by acid deposition generated by faraway industries, and greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.

9. Productivity:

Environmental degradation not only harms health but also reduces economic productivity. Dirty water, inadequate sanitation, air pollution and land degradation cause serious diseases on an enormous scale in developing countries like India.

These, in turn, reduce the productivity levels in the country. To take specific instances, water pollution has led to declining fisheries in rivers, ponds and canals in both urban and rural areas. Water shortages have reduced economic activity in towns, and cities and villages.

Soil and hazardous wastes have polluted ground water resources which cannot be used for agricultural and industrial production.

Soil degradation leading to soil erosion, drought, etc. have led to siltation of reservoirs and blocking of river and canal transport channels. Deforestation has led to soil erosion and consequent loss of sustainable logging potential.

Loss of bio-diversity has resulted in the loss of genetic resources.

Last but not the least, atmospheric changes have given rise to disruption of marine food chain, damages to coastal infrastructure due to sea-rise and regional changes in agriculture productivity due to hurricanes in seas.

Thus, environmental degradation undermines economic productivity of a nation.

10. Technology:

Presently, environmental pollution is caused by old technology which releases gases and pollutants causing chemical and industrial pressure on environment.

Impact of Environment on Population:

Polluted environment also affects adversely the health of people.

Table 36.1 shows the types of pollution, their poisonous elements and effects on health.

Policy Measures:

Agricultural and industrial development along with urbanisation and spread of infrastructure combined with population growth has led to environmental degradation. Environmental degradation harms human health, reduces economic productivity and leads to the loss of amenities. The damaging effects of economic development on environmental degradation can be reduced by a judicious choice of economic and environmental policies and environmental investments.

We discuss some policy measures as under:

1. Control of Population Growth:

The rate of population growth should be curtailed through effective family planning measures. This is essential because the proportion of total population in the labour force will increase further in the years to come as a result of changes in the age structure of the population.

The shifting of labour force from the rural to the secondary sector requires increase in agricultural productivity. Increased agricultural productivity helps in meeting the demand for raw materials of the expanding manufacturing sector. With increased productivity, less workers are required to produce raw materials for industry and food-grains for the population.

It also increases agricultural surplus thereby raising saving and investment for economic development. So concerted efforts are needed to increase agricultural productivity through technological advancement. This will ultimately lead to commercialisation of agriculture and production for exports, thereby earning foreign exchange for further development.

2. Economic Development:

The aim of population control is not only to bring about a decline in fertility rates but also to improve the quality of life of the people. These are possible through rapid economic development. It is not an illusion to believe that a reduction in population growth will automatically raise living standards. In fact, an effective family planning policy should be integrated with measures to accelerate economic development.

As the Ninth Five Year Plan observes:

“Several of the South Asian countries have been able to achieve economic prosperity and improvement in quality of life in spite of population growth. This has been attributed to the increase in productivity due to development and utilisation of innovative technologies by the young educated population who formed the majority of the growing population.”

In the current phase of demographic transition, developing countries can also achieve economic growth and improvement in quality of life despite population growth through commercialisation of agriculture, diversified industrialisation, urbanisation, and development of infrastructure so as to increase employment opportunities, raise income levels, and saving and investment rates.

These will help the country to achieve economic transition from low economic growth (low per capita income) to high income growth and to high per capita income. This will, in turn, raise the quality of life of the people and the population will be controlled automatically.

3. Improving Health and Nutrition:

The food and nutrition security for the weaker sections in a developing country should not be considered as issues in the Nutrition Science but should be considered as part of right to work, right to health, right to education, right to information and right of the poor. In such a country, there are agricultural, health, population, nutrition, children and education policies.

On the other hand, there are fiscal and budget revisions, exports, imports, taxation, price wage, employment policies and policy related to subsidies. Ultimately, all these policies affect life of the poor, their food and nutritionist security and health. As a leading nutritionist C. Gopalan notes: “Various types of food are needed for maximum nutrition and if they are all taken together and in proper proportions (systematic balanced diet), they can provide necessary nutrients.

Guarantee of good nutrition and absence of hunger are not the same thing. Our first effort should be towards removing hunger of the poor, but our long-term goal should be to provide maximum nutrition to our people which is useful in bringing out their hereditary talents. Nutrition security is more important than food security. Nutrition security includes making our food base wider and varietal. ”

Improving health and nutrition levels is an extremely important factor contributing to the social development of a developing country. Especially the people of the weaker sections of the society who do not take adequate advantage of health, family welfare and nutrition services, should be made aware of these facilities so that their health and nutrition status can be improved.

4. Reducing Poverty:

Such development projects should be started which provide greater employment opportunities to the poor. The government should expand health and family planning services and education so as to reach the poor that will help reduce population growth. Further, making investments in providing civic amenities like the supply of drinking water, sanitation facilities, alternate habitats in place of slums, etc. will not only improve welfare but also environment.

5. Removing Subsidies:

To reduce environmental degradation at no financial cost to the government, subsidies for resource use by the private and public sectors should be removed. Subsidies on the use of electricity, fertilisers, pesticides, diesel, petrol, gas, irrigation water, etc. lead to their wasteful use and environmental problems.

Subsidies to capital intensive and highly polluting private and public industries lead to environmental degradation. Removing or reducing subsidies will bring both economic and environmental benefits to the country.

6. Clarifying and Extending Property Rights:

Lack of property rights over excessive use of resources leads to degradation of environment. This leads to overgrazing of common or public lands, deforestation, and over­exploitation of minerals, fish, etc. Clarifying and assigning ownership titles and tenurial rights to private owners will solve environmental problems. Places where the use of common lands, forests, irrigation systems, fisheries, etc. are regulated and rules for their proper use are laid down by the community, the ownership rights should be clearly specified in the administrative records.

7. Market Based Approaches:

Besides regulator measures, there is urgent need for adopting market based approaches for the protection of environment. They aim at pointing to consumers and industries about the cost of using natural resources on environment. These costs are reflected in the prices paid for goods and services so that industries and ultimately the consumers are guided by them to reduce air and water pollution.

The Market Based Instruments (MBIs) are in the form of environmental taxes that include pollution charges (emission tax/pollution taxes), marketable permits, depositor fund system, input taxes/product charges, differential tax rates and user administrative charges and subsidies for pollution abatement equipment for air and water resources.

8. Regulatory Policies:

Regulatory polices also help in reducing environmental degradation. Regulators have to make decisions regarding prices, quantity and technology. In making decisions, they have to choose between the quantity or the price of pollution or resource use of technologies.

The regulating authority has also to decide whether policies should target the environmental problem directly or indirectly. It lays down technical standards and regulations and charges on air, water and land pollutants. Regulators should be impartial in applying environmental standards to both public and private sector polluters or resources users.

9. Economic Incentives:

Like regulatory policies, economic incentives relate to price, quantity and technology. Incentives are usually in the form of variable fees to resource users for the quantity of pollutants in air, water and land use. They are given rebates if less waste or pollution is generated than the emission standards laid down.

10. Public Participation:

Public awareness and participation are highly effective to improve environmental conditions. Conducting of formal and informal education programmes relating to environment management and environmental awareness programmes can go a long way in controlling environmental degradation and keeping the environment clean. For instance, the scheme of eco-labelling of products helps consumers to identify products that are environment friendly.

Public participation can also render costless and useful assistance in Afforestation, conservation of wildlife, management of parks, improvement of sanitation and drainage systems and flood control. Use of indigenous institutions, local voluntary organisations and NGOs can render much help in educating the masses about the harmful effects of environmental degradation and the benefits of keeping the environment clean.

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