It is a well established fact that growth of human population is the dominant threat to the world’s environment. This is for the fact that each person in order to survive has to use energy, space and resources. In the process of survival, every one of us has its own footprints and mostly leads to environmental degradation. The world’s population is rapidly increasing beyond the earth’s capacity to regenerate and offer sustenance for a reasonable life quality. There is an urgent need for us to limit our population growth before Mother Nature controls us with famines, drought and sickness. Reliable sources points to
the fact that the earth’s population in 2000 has reached 6. 1 billion and the United Nations estimated that in 2050 if the present trend continues unabated could reach 10. 9 billion. The future of our children depend on the actions we implement today. It can be hypothesized that the more population per unit area, the higher the degree of environmental degradation. This paper aims to analyze closely the impact of population on the environment of two countries namely China and the Philippines. Furthermore, this paper aims to document the policies and programs being implemented by their respective
governments to alleviate the environmental load with special emphasis on rural to urban inter-country migration. Impact of population growth on the environment The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in 1996 through Marcoux, Senior Officer for Population and Environment reported that the natural resources of China is considered limited considering its population. Considering that the water source is located in sparsely populated Southwest China and the fact of increasing water use in agriculture, industries and cities, the inland sources are overextended.
As a result, more than 200 cities lack adequate supply with some 50 of them experiencing acute shortages. In addition, as a result of industrialization and intensification of agriculture with heavy use of fertilizer and pesticides, the water aquifers were now polluted. The land area suitable for agriculture is decreasing by an average of 300,000 2 hectares annually due to urbanization. The rangeland were overgrazed and the consumption of forest lumber for wood and construction exceeds regeneration growth by 20 million cubic meters annually and deforestation is a serious problem. The expansion of agriculture
to mountain areas was found to be driven by population growth. Industrialization to supply manufactured goods to developed nations is a dominant factor in environmental pollution. The use of coal to fuel industries resulted to economic damage to the environment equivalent to about 7% of GDP in 1992. This amount according to Marcoux (1996) is twice the damage being inflicted to the environment by developed industrialized nations of US and Japan. The Chinese government admits that the economy must develop towards low resource consumption strategy and this will involve cooperation with the masses. So far, as
of 1996, nothing has been done to lessen the degree of environmental degradation. Marcoux (1996) declared that the Philippines is highly prone to environmental damage due to its rolling terrain, fragile soil and climate. Deforestation due to logging and subsequent settling of people adjacent to logging areas as place of residence has been in place in the Philippines since 1920. Settling in of people from the overcrowded lowlands to the deforested area was a common sight due to increasing population pressure. The settlers eventually cultivated the deforested land and planted cash crop like rice, corn and
vegetable for their sustenance. The other areas were transformed to plantation of banana, pineapple and corn by multinational companies. Due to these activities, deforestation which lead to erosion, abuse of watershed, waterways disruption resulting to degradation of marine ecology due to destruction of mangrove and coral reefs has been a common sight. The erosion of soil from the highland contributed greatly to destruction of fishing ground coupled with human settlers along the shore line which pollute the water in addition to effluent from industries.
Ramphal, et al (1996) revealed that in Magat Watershed site alone where 6,000 settlers cultivate about 176,000 hectares, the soil erosion damage was estimated by World Bank to be US8. 8 million (p. 69). The policy of the government is to slow down the increase in population through family planning but still about 1. 4 million 3 babies annually are added to the population. In paper, there is a policy to halt the exodus of people from depleted highland to urban and coastal areas but never seriously implemented. (Ramphal, et al, 1996) At present, the highlands are closing its door to further agriculture
but no alternative has been offered to ease the pressure from the growing population. The UN warned that the local ecological system are starting to collapse resulting to floods in areas not previously prone to flooding, destroying crops, dwelling and lives thus putting the survival of the big population in jeopardy. Reforestation and selective ban on logging were in placed but lack political will in implementation (Ramphal, et al, 1996, p. 69). Urban and Migration Transition and Environmental Degradation The spectacular economic growth of China in the last decade is not due to agricultural
endeavor but due to promotion of light manufacturing industries to supply the developed nations exemplified by the U. S. (Ramphal, et al, 1996. p. 118). The manufacturing sector due to its higher wages being offered resulted to exodus of rural folds to urban areas. The authors further reported that in Beijing alone as of 1996, there were about 2 million floating population of people searching for work from the rural areas. The authors further reported that “there is no alternative to urbanization in China due to demographic and economic reasons (p. 118).
” By year 2050, the UN estimated that another 400 million people will be available for work. The authors reported that daily, there are about 220,000 babies born in the world and 35,000 of that is in China. There is no way that these people can be absorbed in the agricultural sector in the rural areas as the sector has already modernized with the use of machineries thus displacing the people. The exodus to urban areas resulted to more population per square meter, more waste generated and more water and power needed. The pollution of the environment from coal being used to fuel industries and urban homes kept unabated.
To check the rural-urban migration, the hukou system of household registration was re- implemented in 1950 (McGranahan and Tacoli, 2006, p. 15). The household registration system was only partially successful to control rural-urban migration as it was not 4 implemented seriously by the government. The system resulted to uneven payment of labor as those rural dwellers were offered lower wages by industries compared to urban registered dwellers. In the Philippines, the upland settlers were going back to the lowland urban areas in search of livelihood as the land they use to occupy were sold to wealthy businessman and
corporations (Ramphal, et al, 1996). The promise of high paying jobs in the urban areas and the blinding neon lights attracted the rural dwellers to the cities leaving their lands idle and unproductive. The authors revealed that the concentration of people in rural areas brought about by poverty resulted to slum areas with tons of daily garbage dumped around the city and carried by flood to the rivers, sea and ocean thus polluting them. In finding the effective solution to migration transition and environmental degradation, Ramphal, et al (1996) proposes four fold solutions (pp.
69-70). The solutions aim to end the vicious cycle of population growth, poverty and environmental degradation. First, the ever increasing birth rate should be curtailed, second, the government should institute genuine land reform to bring back the land to their real owners. Third, the government should encourage investors to locate their businesses in rural areas to encourage slum dwellers in urban areas to go back to their rural residences. Fourth, the government should encourage the use of local resource and technology to effectively manage the local resources.
Summary and Conclusion It was documented through the reliable sources that where there is poverty, overpopulation is always there together with environmental degradation. The government of China and Philippines should have the political will to implement the needed policies and reforms to end the vicious cycle of poverty, rural-urban migration and environmental degradation. Doing so, will defuse the brewing pressure of discontentment among the peasants and prevent the eminent social explosion which will greatly affect the nation. 5 References Marcoux, A. (1996).
Linkages between Population, Natural Resources and Environment in China, Philippines, Indonesia and Viet Nam. In SD Dimensions, SD: People: Population. Retrieved July 25, 2009 from http://www. fao. org/sd/wpdirect/wpan0004. htm McGranahan, G. and Tacoli, C. (2006). Rural-urban migration in China: policy options for economic growth, environmental sustainability and equity. Washington: IIED Press Ramphal, S. , Sinding, S. , and Rene Dubos Center for Human Environment (1996). Population growth and environmental issues. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group.Sample Essay of EduBirdie.com