Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Environment and Population

Population plays a great role in effecting the environment of a city or a country as a whole. There exists a strong linkage between environment and population. The greater the population, the higher will be the impact on the environment. Every environmental problem is caused by the everyday increasing human population and its increasing level of consumption. There are two ways in which humans affect the environment: they consume resources like food, water, energy, wood, oxygen etc., and wastes like garbage, effluent from the production, exhausts from modes of transportation etc., are produced. All these adversely affect the environment from these disastrous effects.
A lot of concern is being expressed about the worsening environment such as massive air pollution, undisposed heaps of garbage, fast increase in lung diseases, shortage in portable water, spreading of slums in many cities, decrease in level of ground water and ailments effecting eyes. But, hardly we find any ecologist who is trying to co-relate the above problems of worsening environment with the massive and rapid increase in population of most of cities of India. The rate at which population of major cities like Delhi is increasing is really alarming. The rate is almost 5 percent per year which means almost doubling of population in fifteen to twenty years. And this is the most important cause of majority of environmental problems in the present days and in coming times.
Actually in India, we are not taking the strong linkage between population and environment seriously. Neither any private nor any government agency has come out in this regard. We must do something serious to control our rapid population growth to save our worsening ecology. The realization must dawn upon the people, the ecologist and the government that every city environment cannot be saved from decay if its rapid population growth is not checked. All plans and strategies to check deteriorating ecology will prove to be futile of; not supported by an effective population control programme. And this is true for most of the cities and villages in India.
There are some experts who think that the ultimate factor limiting the growth of development will be water. All of us India except perhaps those living in the North – Eastern States are fully aware of the growing water scarcity for both drinking and irrigation. Over exploitation of ground water is emerging as increasingly serious problem in many places. The number of tubewells in the country has increased from about a thousand in 1947 to more than 3 lakhs in 1969 and to about 60 lakhs in 1997. The availability of renewable fresh water per capita in India fell from around six thousand cubic metres per year in 1947 to around 2300 cubic metres by the year 1997.It is true that better site management will help to some extent, but the impending water famine cannot be averted for long if the rate of increase of population is not controlled. The massive of pollution of water bodies is a major water problem in countries like India. The main cause of this water pollution is increased population.
In general, there are two groups of environmentalists in India. First group follows the Western thoughts that the ecological problems can be solved by technological measures irrespective of the lifestyle of people and level of consumption. The second group thinks on Gandhi an philosophy that, the cause of environmental decay is the consequence of not following the Gandhian model of simple living and cottage industries. However, both these groups fail to link the relation between the population and the environment. The first group does not realize that unlike in the West, the levels of industrialization and consumerisation in India are quite low and hence are not the cause of environmental problems. The average standard of living in India is one of the lowest in the world but irresponsible use of technology or deployment of obsolete or faulty technology in India is partly contributing to our environmental degradation. It is merely a coincidence that the environmental concern has come before that of the over-population.
The low per capital rate of consumption in a country with high population density as in India could be as dangerous for the global ecology as the high per capita rate of consumption in the western countries where the population density is comparatively low. It is important to realize that the impact of population on environment is a function of the number of people multiplied by the effect of the average person. It is a matter of great importance that we in India are doing our best to solve the problems of population increase, whereas, the people in the developed countries are reluctant or even not accepting to lower their level of over-consumption. Surely it is just not the level of affluence of an average person the environment but also the number of people that matters. Hence the population growth is the real cause of our country’s ecological problems and we should bear in mind that environment cannot be saved from decay if rapid population growth is not checked.

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