Impact of Overpopulation on the Environment
The world has continued to increase in population, and this has led to overpopulation in some regions. As of 2015, there were approximately 7.3 billion people around the globe (Singh et al. 1). As the population increases, more resources are needed to sustain the population. Agriculture has to be intensified to ensure that people have enough to eat. The more people there are, the more energy is required, and the more waste is produced. Overpopulation has severe adverse effects on the environment. The developed and the developing world have different rates of population growth. Research indicates that the 46 least developed countries have a growth rate of 2.3% per annum, compared to a growth rate of 1.2% per annum in developed nations (Singh et al. 1). As the world continues to increase its population, it is not expanding, and neither is it adding more resources. There is a need to check the present overpopulation to reduce the negative effects it has on the environment
Overpopulation has contributed to the growth of urban sprawl and a reduction of the wild and natural environment. People need a place to stay and work, and they have turned towards the native habitat. The available buildings can no longer sustain them. Therefore, they have to depend on the areas that were previously considered wild to expand. They need infrastructure and amenities, and they destroy the natural habitat to achieve this. Such actions have in turn not only reduced the natural lands and vegetation, but it has also reduced and damaged biodiversity. Some of the plant, animal, and insect species and subspecies have become extinct, and others are on the brink of extinction. Because of overpopulation, ecologies have collapsed, and there has been a spread of bio-homogeneity. The wild places have continued to shrink and fragment and this has caused the creatures living in these places to migrate (Cafaro and Crist 3).
The presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has proved to be influential in the changes in climate. Most of the greenhouse gases are emitted because of human activity. The energy used, agricultural practices, and other activities cause the emission of these gases to the atmosphere. The more people there are, the more greenhouse gases are released. As people continue to increase, so does the number of cars on the roads, which consume energy and release the harmful gases. More waste is discharged as well, and more factories are set up to meet the increased demand in consumption. The high demand may not be necessarily because people want more, but it is caused by the many people in the world, who are available to consume the produced goods. The factories, cars and other machinery release these harmful gases, which have contributed to the warming of the atmosphere, which has in turn contributed towards changing climatic patterns.
Overpopulation has changed land topography. It has contributed to deforestation, soil erosion, and it has had an impact on food security as well. People will clear forested areas to find a place to stay or for agricultural purposes. In addition, they cut down forests for wood, timber, and pulp. The reduction of forests is a significant concern, because of the importance of trees to the environment. The situation is especially prevalent in countries where legislation is not enforced strictly. Deforestation has serious negative effects especially on changing weather patterns and controlling soil erosion. As people increase, the demand for food increases as well. The situation will lead to more need for land. Most of the targeted land for agriculture is in the forested areas, as it is considered suitable for farming.
The levels of pollution tend to increase because of overpopulation. The state of affairs includes air, land, and water pollution. In addition, radioactive contamination has become a real concern (Singh et al. 4). People release and dispose of waste, which includes domestic and factory waste. Some of this waste enters the water bodies, and other waste is released in the land and in the atmosphere. The contaminants affect the quality of the soils, which may prove unsuitable for farming and it affects the underground water reservoirs. The disposal of waste has been a significant concern. It has not only affected the land, by contributing to landfills, but it has altered the marine ecosystem as well. Some of the waste finds its way to oceans and other water bodies. Plastics and other non-biodegradable materials have had an adverse effect on marine life since the animals consume but are not able to digest them. The materials can cause the death of the marine animals. Coral reefs are degraded as well because of marine pollution, overfishing, and other human activities.
Overpopulation has driven the need for energy. The traditional sources of energy, which depend on fossil fuels, have increased their capacity and production. In addition, they have exploited other sources including mountains and underground shale for natural gas and coal. Deep sea floors have been exploited as well (Cafaro and Crist 4). The use of fossil fuels is considered influential in increasing global warming. Exploiting the mountains has changed the topography of the land. Deep-sea mining for oil has had detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem.
Most of the world is already facing a shortage of freshwater. Although water covers much of the world, only a small amount of that water is freshwater, which is suitable for human consumption. Moreover, the available freshwater sources are not able to replenish quickly. The characteristic makes freshwater a significant finite resource. An increase in population means that more people will continue depending on the same sources. The alteration will lead to a shortage, which will, in turn, cause human suffering.
There is a relationship between overpopulation and the increased emergence of diseases. The onset of these diseases has been influenced by environmental degradation, which is a direct consequence of overpopulation (Lindahl and Delia 3). Some of these diseases have caused conditions such as malnutrition in children, and this has exposed the children to more diseases since it makes them more susceptible. Some of the diseases occur because of environmental conditions caused by overpopulation. Some of these conditions include pollution and overcrowding. Living in unsanitary conditions exposes people to infections.
The need to feed the growing population has contributed to intensive farming practices and other activities meant to secure food. Some of these activities include a more significant use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and other products. There is a need to produce more food on the little land available. Such intensive practices include overgrazing on grasslands and overfishing as well. Intensive methods have led to depletion and degradation of the soil. It has caused the land to become more susceptible to flooding, and it has increased to polluted runoffs, which end up in rivers and oceans.
It is clear that overpopulation has had harmful environmental consequences. The growing population needs more land for work and houses. It needs more land for infrastructure and construction of other amenities. It has contributed to urban sprawl, and it has led to a destruction of the ecology by reducing biodiversity. It has led to inefficient land use, intensive agricultural practices, increase in waste and energy, and it has contributed to the emergence of disease. Therefore, there is a need to check the rates of population change for the sake of future generations.
Cafaro, Phillip, and Eileen Crist. Life on the Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation. Georgia: University of Georgia Pres, 2012.
Lindahl, Johanna F., and Delia Grace. “The Consequences of Human Actions on Risks for Infectious Diseases: A Review.” Infection Ecology & Epidemiology, vol. 5, no. 30048, 2015, pp. 1-11
Singh, Pratap R. et al. Environmental Issues Surrounding Human Overpopulation. Hershey: IGI Globla, 2016.