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The Enviromnetal Degradation As A Result Of Overpopulation

.. d counties (and to a lesser extent, developed countries) unprocessed sewage 7 and industrial waste is pumped or dumped directly into rivers and oceans. Global warming also has an effect on the worlds fisheries. The increased ultra violet rays that enter our atmosphere kill phytoplankton in the Arctic by an increased twenty percent(Brown and Kane, 1994, p. 118).

These are a great resource of marine production, as they are the beginning of the aquatic food chain. As populations of many municipalities grow, their sewage treatment facilities are quickly outgrown. Industry grows as well, spewing a vast array of contaminants into our water supply: lead, detergents, sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid, phenols, benzenes, ammonia and so on(Ehrlich and Ehrlich, 1970, p.203). As population and industry grow, so does the need for increased agricultural production. This results in a heavier water-borne load of pesticides, herbicides and nitrates. A result is the spread of pollution in streams, rivers, lakes and along seashores.

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This spread of pollution is not confined to just these regions, as it also enters the groundwater where purification is almost impossible. The oceans are a precious source of food. If they were lost, there would be a greater focus on agriculture. Agricultural streeses are already ruining the planet. Thus, the oceans must be carefully monitored, to assure that they are not being overexploited. Pollution into water is also destroying the fish and aqua culture.

This could lead to a great loss of the planets bio-diversity. That in itself has untold consequences. 8 Our Atmosphere Think how the crown of earths creation Will murder that which gave him birth, Ripping out the slow womb of earth – from The Golden Gate, by Vikram Seth The water vapour and carbon dioxide naturally present in our atmosphere absorb and block just enough escaping warmth to keep the planet at an average temperature of fifteen degrees Celsius(Ramphal, 1992, p. 97). As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, more and more heat is kept in. Carbon dioxide is also the gas emitted when we burn fossil fuels; thus an increase in the amount of fossil fuel burned results in more carbon dioxide in the environment.

We also add new greenhouse gases like CFCs which are compounds of our own making. Together, these two groups of emissions, produced primarily by developed countries, account for some eighty percent of global warming(Arizpe, 1994. p.12). Carbon dioxide emissions and CFCs are removed very slowly from the environment. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change warned that even if all human made emissions of carbon dioxide were halted by the year 1990, about one half of the increase in carbon d! ioxide concentration caused by human activities would still be evident in 2100(Ramphal, 1992, p.

119). Carbon dioxide accounts for half of global warming, and fossil fuels account for two-thirds of manmade carbon dioxide(Ehrlich and Ehrlich, 1970, p.134). The consumption of energy from fossil fuels. Coal, oil, and natural gas used for industrial, commercial, residential, transportation and other purposes results in large emissions. Thus, the energy sector accounts for nearly half of global warming, forty six percent. Industry through CFCs, accounts for almost another quarter, twenty four percent. The remaining quarter or so is shared by forestry, through deforestation, and by agriculture 9 through methane from livestock and rice cultivation(Ramphal, 1992, p.

201). With action to phase out CFCs already spurred by the alarm over depletion of the ozone layer, it is clearly the consumption of energy from fossil fuels that attention must be focused on if humanity is to face up to the implications of global warming(see Map 2). Highly corrosive sulfuric acids and nitric acids are formed when oxides of sulfur and nitrogen combine with water vapour in the air(Lourdes, 1994, p.158). These oxides are spewed out as gases primarily by electricity-generating plants, smelters, and industrial boilers that burn coal and oil. Nitrogen oxides also come from automobile exhaust.

The acids return to earth in rain, snow, and fog, and are also deposited directly from the air and trees. The pollutants travel long distances on prevailing winds, of course taking no account of national borders, so that the sulfur dioxide produced in one country often ends up in another. Many polluted areas rainfall in the world can fall as low as 3.5 on the pH scale, which is between the acid content of apple juice and lemon juice(Ehrlich and Ehrlich, 1990, p.182). Most fish die at pH levels below five. Thus, many lakes and streams around heavily polluted areas are left without fish.

Even at 3.5, which is the OECD norm, we are accepting rain that is a hundred more times acidic than it should be(Brown, 1994, p.182). Not only fish and lakes and rivers are dying, but forests as well. The IPCC estimated that if emissions of greenhouse gases continues to grow as currently projected, global mean temperatures will increase at the rate of about 0.3 degrees Celsius each decade over the next century, which is a rate of increase greater than that ever seen over the past ten thousand years(Ramphal, 1992, p. 77). These predicted changes seem small, but are actually of great magnitude.

A rise of even a degree or two could have severe repercussions, altering patterns of rainfall, intensifying drought, raising the sea level, causing floods and storms, and affecting farming, the availability of food, and 10 health(Ramphal, 1992, p. 77). What nature has tried to bring about over millennia may be achieved in four decades. It may also seem that this gradual warming may benefit countries in the upper latitudes, but in the long run there would be no winners. These changes will be to sudden for ecosystems to cope.

The increase of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere could also accelerate the end of life on earth. The depletion of the ozone harms virtually all aspects of life. The forests are the only factor keeping this under some degree of control, and they are being destroyed. The ozone layer has shown recent signs of recuperation, and it is absolutely necessary. 11 Conclusions Humanity is breeding itself into a corner. If population growth continues on its current path, ecosystems will be subjected to greater and greater stresses of various sorts. Since the world is so dynamic, and all the types of impacts made on the environment, including those not directly mentioned in this paper, are interrelated, blame cannot truly be laid on any one section of the world.

Not on the underdeveloped countries with the majority of the population and fastest growth, nor the developed countries whose affluence highly exceeds that of those in the underdeveloped countries. A concerted effort will be required by all nations to minimize their impacts. The primary goal for most developing countries should be to reduce their fertility rates. This will require a great deal of birth control and family planning. Medical needs and technologies will also be required to improve conditions so that families do not feel the need to have as many children.

There is a minor fear that if conditions are improved too greatly, that these people will seek and obtain the affluence of those in the developed countries, and potentially become even more destructive towards the environment. Developed countries must seek to reduce both their affluence and (environmentally bad) technology. Government regulations must become stricter regarding the impacts made on the environment by all sectors of the economy (industrial, residential, etc.). Economics is closely associated with population related environmental degradation. With the increased population comes an increase in demand for absolutely everything.

Industries compete to get their products and services out at the lowest possible cost, often without much regard towards the environment. Overpopulation of our planet could prove to be cataclysmic. The next few generations may live in a world that is far, far worse off than we currently are. If society 12 is to continue along its current trends, the environment will collapse, and drag humanity with it. It will simply not be enough to try and improve technology.

Birth rates must be drastically cut , in a the most humane way possible. Merely focusing on one specific aspect of these impacts will not suffice other. The biosphere is woven in a very complicated manner. We are unraveling it quickly, and it must be stopped to preserve Earth in all its beauty. 20 BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Arizpe, Lourdes.

Population and Environment. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. 2. Brown, Lester and Kane, Hal. Full House. New York: Norton and Co., 1994.

3. De Blij, H.J. and Muller, Peter O. Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1994. 4.

Ehrlich, Paul and Ehrlich, Anne. Population Explosion. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990. 5. Ehrlich, Paul and Ehrlich, Anne.

Population Resources Environment. San Francisco: Wilt Freeman and Co., 1970. 6. Hardaway, Robert. Population, Law, and Environment.

Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994. 7. Lindahl-Kiessling, Kerstin. Population, Economy, Development and Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. 8.

Lutz, Wolfgang. The Future Population of the World. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 1994) 9. Ramphal, Shridath. Our Country, The Planet.

London: Lime Tree, 1992. 10. Schlaepfer, Rudolph. Long Term Implications of Climate Change and Air Pollution on Forest Ecosystems. Vienna: IUFRO, 1994. 11.

Stanford, Quentin H. Canadian Oxford World Atlas. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 Our Population 1 Our Forests 3 Our Oceans 6 Our Atmosphere 8 Conclusions 11 Bibliography 20 LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 13 Toatal Projected Population 1990 – 2100 According to Scenario Figure 2 16 Time Series of Fuelwood and Charcoal Production Figure 3 17 World Fish Catch, 1950 -1992 Map 1 18 Environmental Damage Map 2 19 Global Warming LIST OF TABLES Table 1 14 Effects of Global Warming Table 2 15 Certainty of Climatic Change and Its Direct Effects on Vegetation.


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