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The global human population has increased drastically over the past few decades to more than six billion people today. This has obviously put a strain on the world’s natural resources. The rapid growth in population is attributed to a number of factors including improved medical technology, improved standards of living, improved public health, and reduced death rates (Pearce 2010).
The current essay shall endevor to examine the impact of increased human population on the global resources. Specifically, the essay shall explore the impact of increased population on natural resources, energy availability, food production, and the environment.
Natural Resources and Energy Availability
The growing world population has really stretched our natural resources like water, land, minerals, and energy supplies. As the global human population increases, so does the demand for food. This necessitates clearing of forests, ponds, wetlands and green belts to make room for food production (Engelman 2009).
However, we end up damaging our natural ecosystem in the process. In addition, when natural resources like forests gets depleted, natural processes like the nitrogen cycle and photosynthesis are affected, thereby interfering with the growth of the ecosystem. As the world population grows, so does the rate of energy consumption. Already, the rising human population has overstretched the non-renewable sources of energy, and this has forced various countries to turn to renewable sources of energy (Nielsen, 2006).
Food Production and Distribution
As the global population increases, there is a dire need to increase the world food production. Consequently, different countries are embracing technology in agriculture as a way of improving food output. Unfortunately, as more forest land is cleared to give way to food production, it leads to deforestation (Shiklomanov 2000).
Even as the global food production has increased by nearly 24% in the last decade (Pearce 2010), there has not been an even distribution of food production globally. In Africa for example, food production has actually decreased while the population in the continent has increased. At the same time, global cereal production has fallen drastically.
Over-population affects on the environment on two levels:
Consumption of natural resources:
Due to the rapid increase in global population, fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources are getting depleted rapidly. In addition, renewable resources like forests and fisheries are also getting diminished (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2009), at a higher rate than they are getting replenished.
Emission of waste:
Over-population leads to emission of wastes, and this destroys the environment. Some of these wastes include toxic materials, water and air pollutants, excess nutrients, and greenhouse gases (Engelman 2009). Untreated waste like sewage is also a real threat to human health.
Other environmental wastes like excess nitrogen in rivers and lakes cause algal bloom. In turn, the algal bloom reduces the levels of oxygen in the water, thereby killing the fish. On the other hand, increased greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming and by extension, a rise in water levels.
A rapid increase in population has overstretched our natural resources and at the same time, increased pollution to the environment. To avert an inevitable crisis, it is important that we manage our natural resources better by embracing science and technology. Another useful way to manage the impending crisis is to create awareness on the effects of overpopulation through educational forums.
Engelman, R 2009, State of the World Population 2009: Facing a changing world: women, population and climate, <https://www.unfpa.org/publications/state-world-population-2009>.
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Nielsen, R 2006, The Little Green Handbook: Seven Trends Shaping the Future of Our Planet, Picador, New York.
Pearce, F 2010, The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet’s Surprising Future, Beacon Press, Boston.
Shiklomanov, I A 2000,’Appraisal and Assessment of World Water Resources’, Water International, Vol. 25, pp. 11–32.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs 2009, World Population Prospects, the 2008 Revision. Web.