Population Growth as a Process of Global Change
Global change is the transformation that takes place all over the world affecting most countries in the world . These changes usually occur in different aspects of the global environment such as the climate, economy, population, water cycle, oceans, the atmosphere, land productivity among other areas. The changes are experienced in most parts of the world independently and they affect the sustainability of the world and the human society in general. Some of the global changes bring in more devastating effects than others and need more adaptive measures to be taken up to reduce the impact on a global scale.
This paper discusses population growth as one of the most pressing example of a process of global change that is facing the world today and reflects on the implications it has on the human society. It also discusses the options that exist for dealing with the change, describing how uncertainty has operated in influencing the process. Adaptive measures and recommendations that can be undertaken to address the issue are also discussed. One of the major environmental issues that are pressing the world today is the population issue that is being experienced in most parts of the world.
Between the years 1960 and 1999 the population of the world had increased from 3 billion to 6 billion . In some ways this was seen as good news for the human society as it implied that the child mortality rates had reduced, life expectancy had increased and people had generally become healthier. However at the same time there were several global changes that impacted the environment. Some of them included the increase in pollution, depletion of resources and the rise in sea levels that brought in catastrophic changes in the climate of the world .
Due to these changes concerns have been raised about the complex relationship that exists between the population and the environment. The implications on the environment by the population have been attributed to some of the population dynamics. These dynamics have posed challenges to the environment. One of the dynamics that has posed some environmental problems is the population size. The world’s population is estimated to be 6. 8 billion and the figure is expected to rise to 9. 2 billion by the year 2050 .
The population growth rate has been projected to continue increasing but will stop growing towards the end of this century. It is approximated that the global population increases by 80 million annually . This when put in a broader dimension implies that a population equivalent to the size of Germany is increased every year in the world. The population growth rate has been increasing despite the fact that fertility rates have been decreasing in most parts of the world. The fertility levels of women have remained above 6. 0 in most parts of the world.
Some of these countries include Saudi Arabia which has fertility levels of 6. 4, Yemen with fertility levels of 6. 7 and Niger with fertility levels of 7. 5 . The growth rate has been attributed to so different factors among them the increased availability of medical care and the medical advances, agricultural productivity among others. Population distribution has also played its role in the changes in the environment that are affecting the human society. The way in which the population has been distributed all over the world has affected the development of many regions in the world.
Some areas have been recognized for their high fertility and high population growth. These areas are mainly the less developed countries. About 80% of the world’s population is living in the less developed countries . Migration of people has also played its role in the distribution of the population with over 2 million people migrating internationally in the year 1996 and 125 million people living outside the countries where they were born . The migration pattern normally follows a rural to urban pattern and this has led to high population in the urban areas all over the world.
The distribution of the population has led to pressure intensifying on the few resources in the urban areas causing a strain on the environment, increases in pollution and the high population growth outpacing the development of infrastructure in those areas. The population composition has been affected as well due to the growth and distribution patterns of people all over the world. The global population is mainly composed of the young people aged below 24 years and the elderly have also been recognized to have the largest cohort of all time .
The young people are the ones who mostly migrate as they look for more opportunities outside their homes. The composition of the global population suggests that more young people will continue to migrate and hence there is bound to be an increase in environmental concerns in future in the urban areas. The high population growth is becoming an issue in the world due to the adverse effects it has on the human society. The population growth has been attributed to some of the other global issues that are affecting the world. It has been linked to poverty, environmental degradation, and economic changes among others .
It has also raised issues about the sustainability of the world to the population in years to come. Resources in the world are becoming unavailable as the consumption levels increase due to the increasing human population. The world’s wealthiest countries which are 20% of the other countries consume 80% of the world’s resources while the rest of the countries share the remaining 20% . Consumption levels have also risen over the years. For example, the global water consumption levels have risen six times between the years 1900 and 1995. This is more than double the global population growth rate .
The high population growth rate has also made the poor people poorer and the hungry people even hungrier. The environment that is already fragile continues to be adversely affected by the growing population. The growth rate has been increasing at an alarming rate since it used to grow at a snails pace before it could hit the one billion mark at the beginning of the last century . The growth rate however quickened after wards with the second billion of people being attained after 130 years and the third and fourth billion being achieved after 30 and 15 years respectively .
Most of the growth is however being experienced in the developing countries where 90% of the world is being experienced. If the population growth rate remains unchecked and not much is done to control it, the other global issues will speed up such as the climate changes and the destruction of the ecosystems as well . Other countries will be doomed as the poverty levels will increase. There is bound to be a looming ecological overload in the planet, famine, education failure and other conflicts . Energy supplies will increase the environmental pollution levels and global warming will increase.
There is also the likelihood that there will be civil unrests being experienced all over the world. Studies of some of the parts of the world that are experiencing high population growth are also experiencing other devastating effects that are linked to the increase in population. Malawi is one of the countries that are considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world and with a high population growth rate. The country is located at the southern part of Africa and is landlocked with no potential of having any abundance of raw materials that can be exploited .
It therefore relies on its agriculture to develop the economy and sustain the population. The country has a population growth of 3. 3 and this is considered to be one of the highest population growth rates in the world. The growth rate when translated implies that the country has the potential of doubling its population in 21 years . High population growth rates have resulted to overpopulation in most countries and the high rates have been singled out as the major factors that are contributing greatly to decline of economies in these countries.
Malawi has been impacted negatively by the high growth rates in the country in its economy and the availability of food to feed the high population. The country unlike some of the South African countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe, can not boast of mineral resources or large tracts of land that investors can be attracted to invest and generate foreign exchange for the country . The major assets that the country has are the fertile soils, its altitude and location that have produced climatic conditions conducive for agriculture.
The good soils and the humidity of the country have made most parts of the country to be cultivatable . The good environment has enabled the country to be able to diversify its agriculture and become self sufficient when it comes to food. The country has been able to feed its high population and export some of the food products to other countries. Since the country obtained independence it has been focusing on the agricultural sector. The ever expanding population of the country has however raised concerns about whether the country will be able to sustain itself.
The continued focus on agriculture has also led to a high degradation of the environment. Most of the forests have been cleared by the people to allow for more land for agriculture. This is creating pressure on land as it is being overused for the subsistence farming and overgrazing. Deforestation is rampant in the country and most of the areas have experienced a lot of soil erosion . The reasons that are attributed to the high growth rates include the high infant mortality rate that is present in the country due to the lack of medical care for the pregnant women and the children.
Families tend to have more children to compensate for the expected losses. There is lack of knowledge about the availability and use of contraceptives. Most of the people follow religions that forbid the use of birth control methods or medicines. Families also tend to have more children so that the father’s importance is increased in the community and the children can be used to look after the farms . The situation in Malawi has impacted the society of the country and their future.
The high growth rate has led to a high number of youth in the country as the children grow. The economy of the country is limited to agriculture since the country is landlocked and there are no mineral resources that can be exploited to enhance the economy and the employment level of the country (Malawi). Other amenities are becoming scarce in the country as the population grows such as schools and health care centers. Inmost parts of the country the people have to travel over a day before they can access a health facility .
The requirements of a growing population keep on increasing and they ultimately lead to some increased form of land use to provide an expansion of food production and an increase in other opportunities for the economies. These increased usage in land has impacted the environment negatively with more soil erosion, increased use of chemicals and fertilizers on the soil leading to its degradation, deforestation leading to a lose in the soil retention capabilities thereby increasing the frequency and severity of floods in these areas (Malawi).
The relationship of the population increase and the natural resources has proven to be complex . Population increase in itself leads to an increase in consumption of the natural resources that are crucial for life. However, these natural resources are becoming fewer each day some of them being viewed as exhaustible. One of the crucial natural resources that are necessary for sustaining life has been receiving a lot of attention regarding its management. Though most of the people are not very strict with its management, water has been believed to be exhaustible.
However the problem of water scarcity has been on the rise with the increasing population. The scarcity of water has been directly and indirectly been affected by the increase in population . Directly, the increase in population has led to an increase in consumption. The global consumption levels of water have been on the rise. Indirectly the increase in population leads to an increase in the exploitation of other natural resources resulting to intensity of negative impacts on the environment such as pollution, deforestation and desertification. These environmental changes end up damaging the supply of water.
One of the countries in the world that has experienced problems with water supply due to the increase in population is Mali. Mali is a country that has been experiencing a high population growth rate and in its 1. 24 million square kilometer area . It is a country that is found in the Western part of Africa with two major seasons in its tropical climate which are the rainy season and the dry season. The country has been experiencing a high fertility rate of its women of over 6. 7 children per woman. This is in comparison to the world’s fertility rate of 3. 6 children per woman.
The birth rate is averaged at 47 live births per 1000 inhabitants in the country as compared to Africa’s average birth rate of 44 live births per 1000 . The country has two great rivers which have several tributaries that supply water in the country. Both of the rivers, Senegal and Niger originate from the Fouta Djalon highlands in the country of Guinea. The country has several provinces and has a GDP of $300 per inhabitant . It is considered to be one of the least developed countries in the world. The major economic activity of the country is agriculture mainly farming and livestock keeping.
The agricultural activities are mainly rain dependent but irrigation also plays a major role in the farming of the principal agricultural products which is rice. The country relies on firewood as the major source of energy with less than 1% of the total population relying on electricity which is generated mainly for industrial purposes . The high growth rate in the country has been attributed to several factors among them the procreation levels. Most of the mothers in the country have their first child at the age of 19 and with about 10% of them having theirs before they reach 15 .
There are also high levels of early marriages in the country with girls being married off by the age of 16. The use of contraceptive as a means to control the high fertility rates has been limited and only 3% of the married women use modern methods of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies . The social attitudes of the people in the country have also contributed to the high growth rate. Children are seen as a source of prestige in families and they provide a source of workforce in the rural areas. They also value their children economically as they help them increase their wealth by providing more labor in their farms.
The high population growth rate has impacted the supply of water in the country. The supply of water in the country has dropped from 15, 853 m3 per person per year to 6,727 m3 . This is in comparison to the world’s average of 7,700 m3 per person per year. The deficiencies in the supply of water to the population of the country have led to various water related diseases. Hospital statistics have related the emergence of these diseases to the quantity and the quality of water which have led to poor hygiene among the people.
These diseases include malaria, cholera, meningitis and other diarrhoetic ailments that mostly affect the very young children. The water shortages caused by the limited rain due to the changes in climate have also led to decline in agricultural leads and over concentration of other economic activities in the urban cities and a lot of migration to the urban areas by the youth. The migration has resulted to rapid urban growth in population with over 22% of the entire countries population living in the city compared to 1976 when the city population was 16. 8% with 3. 8% being in the capital city, Bamako.
The capital city’s population has since then grown by 4. 2% . The population growth rate that has been witnessed in various parts of the world has been influenced by certain uncertainties that have been operating. In most of these countries that experience the high population growth rates the economies are developing and the countries tend to have inadequate resources and infrastructure that can help sustain the growing population. The people are faced with certain risks that lead to the increase in population. The high infant mortality leads most of the families to increase their number of children to increase their chances of survival.
The high illiteracy levels have also contributed to the high population growth being experienced in the third world countries. Improvements in medicine, health and nutrition has also led to a decrease in the death rates and improving the fertility of the women. The natural growth rate has therefore increased and this has influenced the overall life expectancy of most of the people all over the world. There are various adaptation strategies that can be used to address the issue of population and minimize its negative effects on the world today.
The major adaptation strategy that can be used is the mainstreaming adaptation strategy . The method entails the description and consideration of the population issue and the adaptation of national and regional decision making processes to develop solutions that will work. The method may use a top down approach or a bottom up approach to tackle the issue. It starts of by building awareness to the people in general and addressing their concerns by developing a framework that can be followed nationally or regionally to implement, promote and support adaptations that can help make the issue manageable.
It can also include revising the existing policies so that they are able to adapt to the existing situation and problems. The policies developed are designed at the top and implemented from the top until they reach the bottom. The bottom up approach on the other hand starts with building awareness of the problem and then integrating adaptive measures to develop projects and activities to help solve the issue. Existing projects are revisited to ensure that they are able to address the concerns of the people and fit in the current situation.
In this case of population changes the best adaptation method involving mainstream adaptation would be the bottom up approach since it would yield to quicker results and the impact of the solutions would be felt immediately . Some of the approaches to be used in this bottom up approach include the control of population dynamics. Awareness can be build to the general population to the problems that are associated with the change in the population size. The people can be made aware of the extent of the problem and the future implications on the society and the available resources.
Social movements, non governmental organizations can be used to implement some of the policies in the mainstream adaptation strategy . The organizations can be useful when the bottom up approach is used to implement the solutions to the issue on population. They can play a big role through the networks that they have set that involve the people and the population in general. These organization have the necessary framework is useful for the implementation of the policies to make sure that they are effective and they are able to reach the people at all levels.
A look at the policies that have been set up in the past to control the growth in population should be carried out so that they can be evaluated to ensure that they are still relevant. Some of these policies that are concerned with preventative measures of solving the problem such as the use of contraception and education should be evaluated to ensure that they are able to perform effectively and tackle the problem . The challenges that they face should be addressed and proper amendments and resources made available.
Improving the education level of the women especially is a necessary step and an effective method that can contribute to reducing the high levels of population growth. Reactive adaptation strategies can be used as a means to deal with the damage that has already taken place on the environment and the human society. The effects of the population increase have brought in several damaging effects such deforestation, soil erosion, pollution, a depletion of natural resources among others effects.
Reactive adaptation strategies can be developed to counteract the effects that have been brought by the changes in the population. Some of the reactive adaptation strategies that can be put up by most governments in the countries that are already experiencing these effects include the development of new sources of energy, reducing pollution levels, finding means to reduce the impact of soil erosion . Policy makers can also develop policies that will reduce the birth rate. A good example would be the policy implemented by the authorities in china to reduce the birth rate and hence reduce the population growth rate.
China developed a one child policy to help reduce the imbalance in the population of the country and it has been working for the country. The policies to be developed should involve the community in these countries to participate actively in their implementation for them to succeed. The governments can ensure that they are involved by decentralizing most of the state services to all areas of the countries . This would bring the necessary state resources that are needed for the implementation of these resources closer to the people.
The private sector in all of the occurrences should be actively involved in the implementation of the policies and solving the problems. A united effort of the private sector, the public sector, the non governmental organizations and the international community can help bring a clear resolution to tackle the problem of the high population growth and bring in the reserves that are needed. Flexible adaptive strategies should also be developed as options that can be important to handle any uncertainties that may occur during the tackling of the problem.
These can be measures that can be put up that can allow adaptability of other options when the previous strategies bring in undesired results. They can be useful in evaluating the previous decisions made in the other policies to ensure that all uncertainties are well taken care of. Some of the solutions that are recommendable to solve the issue of population increase include increasing the education level of the women. The status of the women in the countries increasing the high population growth rates need to be elevated through education.
The women need to be educated about their options and the contraceptive methods that they can use to reduce the number of children that they have. This will also empower them to venture into other economic viable activities and be independent. The knowledge that they can gain can also help them to take care of their children and reduce the infant mortality rate and other diseases that affect their children. Once the women are well educated there will be a reduction in the number of children that they will have and this will result to reducing the current population growth.
Other approaches that can be used to reduce the population growth would involve long term approaches such as the increase in the infrastructure. The government can implement plans to increase health facilities and educational centers to reach out to more people in the country . Increasing these facilities would lead to a lower infant mortality and increase in the literacy levels of the population. Issues like early marriages that lead to the high population growth rate would be reduced by the increase in the number of schools and increased emphasis on education by the government.
In the developing countries the governments should consider making the education available to all children at all levels at no cost. This would allow more children to join schools and get an education even though their parents may not be in a position to afford it . The damage that is being caused by the increase in the population which then puts a strain in the few natural resources can be curbed through developing alternative methods and sources of some of the natural resources and avoiding over reliance .
Alternative sources of energy can be discovered such as wind and solar energy which would not affect the climate or the environment. Other sources of water can be discovered such as underground water to reduce the over reliance on the water from the rivers and lakes that are continually depleting. People should also be made aware and enlightened on methods of conserving energy and other natural resource to avoid wasting and over utilizing them . Population growth is one of the most serious global challenges that we are facing in the world today.
It has led to other problems in the environment and the climate as well as in the society at large. If the trend that is being felt at the moment continues the devastation of the planet we live in will continue and in a few years time it will be too late to try and salvage the situation. Action is needed and it should be taken immediately to decrease the global fertility rate and the devastating effect of the increase. Solutions to the problem need to be implemented to make the world more habitable now and in years to come. Bibliography Engelman, Robert.
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