The Environmental Degradation as a Result of Overpopulation
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
There are simply too many people on our planet, and the population is not showing any signs of
slowing down(see Figure 1). It is having disastrous effects on our environment. There are too many
implications and interrelationships to discuss in this paper, but the three substances that our earth
consists of: land, water and air, are being destroyed.
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Our forests are being cut down at an alarming
rate, bearing enormous impacts on the health of earth. Our oceans and seas are being polluted and
overfished. Our atmosphere is injected with increasing amounts of carbon dioxide, which hurts the
entire planet. All of these problems can be traced to our vast, rapidly expanding population, which has
stressed our world far too greatly.
In 1994, the world population was 5 602 800 000. This population had a doubling time of only
forty-one years (De Blij and Muller, 1994, p.527). The massive amount of people has had highly
destructive impacts on the earth’s environment. These impacts occur on two levels: global and local. On
the global level, there is the accumulation of green house gases that deplete the ozone layer, the
extinction of species, and a global food shortage.
On the local level, there is erosion of soils (and
the loss of vegetation), the depletion of water supply, and toxification of the air and water. The earth
is dynamic though, all of these aspects are interrelated, and no one impact is completely isolated. All
of these destructive elements can be traced to our enormous population. As the population increases, so
do all of the economic, social, and technological impacts.
The concept of momentum of population growth is one that must be considered. It states that
areas with traditionally high fertility rates will have a very young structure age. Thus, a decrease in
the fertility rate will still result in a greater absolute number of births,
as there are more potential mothers.
Populations are very slow in adjusting to decreases in fertility
rates. This is especially frightening when considering that South Asia has a population of 1 204 600
000 (and a doubling time of thirty two years), Subsaharan Africa has 528 000 000 (doubling time: thirty
one years), and North Africa/Southwest Asia has 448 100 000 (doubling time: twenty seven years) (De Blij
and Muller, 1994, p. 529-531)and all of these areas have traditionally high fertility rates.