Effects of Population Growth on the Environment

Everyday, humans as mere mortals exit the world and infants are being ushered into the same world in the same mannerism.
This process leads to either an increase or a decrease in population. The term population is one we have been accustomed to over the years and it can simply be defined as “the actual number of people living in a geographical area at a particular time.
The industrial revolution gave birth to a tremendous change in global population growth with the world reaching her first One billion in the 18th Century.
The world reached 2 billion in 1930, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987 and currently the world is said to be around 7.8 billion (U.N by worldometer, March 2020), to become 9 billion by 2037, 10 billion in 2057 and 10.9 billion in 2100.
It can be deducted from this that the world is increasing unsustainably (i.e an increase that isn’t considering both the present and future generations).
Population increase is estimated at 81 million per year at growth rate 1.05%. The leading countries of the world in terms of Population are: China, India, U.S, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia and Mexico.
Nigeria is currently with a present population of 204 million and a growth rate of 2.62% annually (U.N worldometer, March 2020) with 226 persons per kmsq projected to reach 401 million by 2050.
The factors that aid population growth are:

  • Climate
  • Relief
  • Religious beliefs
  • Agriculture
  • Improved Social facilities to immigration
  • Concentration of Industries
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The more we increase population wise without a cut out plan, the more hazardous it is to all living organisms.
For example:

  • More people means more food
  • More people means more need for oil, gas, coal and other fuels.
  • More people means more demand on an already over burdened ecosystem.
  • More people means more need for land.

The effects of an unsustainable rise in population is discussed below:

  • Climate Change: Every additional person will increase Carbon Emmission.

It is generally believed that population is the major driver of climate change especially by nations who are industrially developed.

  • Deforestation: Land is a basic necessity to man as all his activities takes place on Land. As man increases in population, land is converted for agricultural use to feed a growing and demanding human population.
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Meanwhile agriculture is responsible for about 80% of deforestation globally.

  • Waste: As residents in the City become wealthier, the amount of waste they produce reaches a limit. Population growth and consumption are inseparable.

According to a World Bank report of September 2018, it explained that global waste production was 2 billion tonnes a year and it is expected that it will increase by 70% in 2050.
It takes a thinking government with good policies to manage waste as well as it’s increase.

  • Flooding: Due to poor waste disposal by an ever increasing population and inability of government to tackle waste management this is inevitable as citizens will therefore dispose waste in water ways.

When flooding eventually occurs the government will spend more in terms of compensation, construction, renovation, evacuation amongst others.
Recommendations to cushion the effect of population growth on the environment include:

  • Family Planning: Choose smaller family size.
  • Education: Get to know more and tell others about what you know.
  • Curb Consumption: the more we eat, the more waste we generate and most times we don’t even need what we eat.
  • Proper planning with adequate data not just estimation of figures, the basis for any form of planning (physical, economic, social e.t.c) is Data which many developing countries lack.
  • Creation of national policies that is feasible e.g compulsory recycling, reducing waste from the source i.e pay more for the waste you use.
  • Eradicate Poverty: It is agreed upon that the poorest countries in the works are great contributors to population growth and are the most affected by the effects of population growth environmentally.
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Lastly in the words of Jacques Cousteau, “Over consumption and overpopulation underlie every environmental problem we face today.”

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