The actual knowledge would not be sufficient to generalize the effect of population growth in developing areas, at least that is what some researchers believe. They agree that rapid growth in today’s less developed countries have favorable effects such as economies of scale and specialization, better capacities, and motivations of younger people compared with older ones. However, rapid population growth creates high pressures on elemental resources that compromises our actual model of development as human beings.
In fact, it’s often suggested that rapid population growth in developing countries intensifies environmental degradation, since more people compete for the same amount of resources. As a result, high prices on food and nonrenewable resources, pollution, land degradation and global warming are the part of the impact of this unprecedented demographic change. One evidence of this unsustainable growth indicates that the world’s population had doubled in the last 50 years, after growing very slowly for most of the human history. According to projections, the world’s population will surpass 9 billions people by 2050.
Most of the additional 2. 3 billion people will enlarge the population of developing countries, which is projected to rise from 5. 6 in 2009 to 7. 9 billions in 2050. 1 This means that the majority of the people would be in countries where basic needs are already scarce. The human impact on the environment is a relationship among population size, per capita consumption and the environmental damage. In fact, people in developed countries have the greatest impact on the global environment. Therefore, the 20 per cent of the people with the highest income are responsible for 86 per cent of total consumption.
For instance, a child born in the developed world adds more to consumption and pollution levels in one lifetime than do 30-50 children born in developing countries. 2 In developing economies especially without oil and natural gas reserves, agricultural land is the most important source of wealth. When the demand for food exceeds the capacity of the land, the agricultural land base rapidly expands through conversion of forests, wetlands and other natural habitat, which results in the disappearance of forests, soil erosion and desertification.
This degradation interferes in natural processes such as the carbon cycle, responsible for the global climate. In fact, recent studies indicates that each year an estimated 5 to 7 million hectares of agricultural lands are lost to accelerating land degradation and rapid urbanization in developing countries. A sixth of the world’s land are is now degraded as a result of overgrazing and poor farming practices. Another 16 to 20 million hectares of tropical forests and woodlands are lost each year. 3 As an example, the Amazon Rainforest will be reduced by 40% by 2030 at the current rate of deforestation. Population density or growth contributes either directly or indirectly through its interaction with other determinants of deforestation. In a study made in 1992 about the causes of deforestation in Northeast Thailand, population density was found as the most important factor in deforestation as well as wood price and poverty. The dominance of population as a cause of deforestation should be expected in Thailand’s poorest and most populous region; both population density and population growth are high, non-farm activities are uncommon, and soil fertility is poor.
Furthermore, farmers, who are 90 percent of the Northeast population, prefer the use of wood over other sources of energy such as kerosene. 5 Desertification is another consequence of mismanaging the land and rapid population growth in less developed areas. For example, the increase in population densities in Africa, Asia and Latin America have broken the previous balance on which subsistence farming depended, including long periods of fallow to allow the soil to gain fertility. Another major issue is the water available for human consumption.
After all, there is no more water on earth now than there was two 2,000 years ago when the population was 97 times smaller. During this century, while world population has tripled, the water consumption has increased by over six times. With world population expected to surpass 9 billion by 2050, solutions to water scarcity problems are not going to come easy. Experts have suggested that technology such as large-scale desalination plants could generate more freshwater for the world to use.
However environmentalists alert that taking ocean water will only create other big problems. In any case, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Japan have significant advances in development of desalination technologies. With all of the negative impact of rapid population growth in poor regions, some countries have started to restrict the number of children a family is able to have. This is the case of China with the one-child policy. The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy.
It officially restricts married, urban couples to having only one child, while allowing exemptions for several cases, including twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves. In conclusion, once we recognize that overpopulation is a problem, it is tempting to start thinking that disease, poverty, and premature death are unfortunate but necessary. We must resist any such temptation and work toward better solutions. For example, improving resource efficiency and pollution control so that standards of living can rise without negative impact.
The most important part is keeping human population to numbers that are sustainable, ensuring that people around the world have access to family planning services, empowering women in developing countries economically, socially, and legally so that they can equal power in reproductive decisions; including information on population levels and implications for the future in schools and public media and finally reforming tax laws in a way that encourages couples to have no more than two children.