Adopting game theory as the analytical tool, this study uses a classic model to examine the relations among population, resources, and environmental behaviors. Related Topics: Environmental and Natural Resource Management, No simple relationship exists between population size and environmental change. Population Division. PIP: In examining interrelationships among population, resources, environment and development, it must always be kept in mind that.
There are many factors at play. Essentially, it is what is happening within those populations—their distribution density, migration patterns and urbanisationtheir composition age, sex and income levels and, most importantly, their consumption patterns—that are of equal, if not more importance, than just numbers. A formula for environmental degradation? The IPAT equation, first devised in the s, is a way of determining environmental degradation based on a multiple of factors.
At its simplest, it describes how human impact on the environment I is a result of a multiplicative contribution of population Paffluence A and technology T. As well as bringing the link between population and environment to a wider audience, the IPAT equation encouraged people to see that environmental problems are caused by multiple factors that when combined produced a compounding effect. More significantly, it showed that the assumption of a simple multiplicative relationship among the main factors generally does not hold—doubling the population, for example, does not necessarily lead to a doubling of environmental impact.
The reverse is also true—a reduction of the technology factor by 50 per cent would not necessarily lead to a reduction in environmental impact by the same margin.
Population and environment: a global challenge - Curious
The IPAT equation is not perfect, but it does help to demonstrate that population is not the only or necessarily the most important factor relating to environmental damage. Focusing solely on population number obscures the multifaceted relationship between us humans and our environment, and makes it easier for us to lay the blame at the feet of others, such as those in developing countries, rather than looking at how our own behaviour may be negatively affecting the planet.
Population size It's no surprise that as the world population continues to grow, the limits of essential global resources such as potable water, fertile land, forests and fisheries are becoming more obvious. But how many people is too many?
How many of us can Earth realistically support? Carrying capacity is usually limited by components of the environment e. Debate about the actual human carrying capacity of Earth dates back hundreds of years. The range of estimates is enormous, fluctuating from million people to more than one trillion.
Scientists disagree not only on the final number, but more importantly about the best and most accurate way of determining that number—hence the huge variability. The majority of studies estimate that the Earth's capacity is at or beneath 8 billion people. PDF How can this be? Whether we have million people or one trillion, we still have only one planet, which has a finite level of resources. The answer comes back to resource consumption.
People around the world consume resources differently and unevenly. An average middle-class American consumes 3. So if everyone on Earth lived like a middle class American, then the planet might have a carrying capacity of around 2 billion. However, if people only consumed what they actually needed, then the Earth could potentially support a much higher figure. But we need to consider not just quantity but also quality—Earth might be able to theoretically support over one trillion people, but what would their quality of life be like?
Would they be scraping by on the bare minimum of allocated resources, or would they have the opportunity to lead an enjoyable and full life? More importantly, could these trillion people cooperate on the scale required, or might some groups seek to use a disproportionate fraction of resources? If so, might other groups challenge that inequality, including through the use of violence?
These are questions that are yet to be answered. Population distribution The ways in which populations are spread across Earth has an effect on the environment. Developing countries tend to have higher birth rates due to poverty and lower access to family planning and education, while developed countries have lower birth rates.
These faster-growing populations can add pressure to local environments. Globally, in almost every country, humans are also becoming more urbanised. Bythat figure was 54 per cent, with a projected rise to 66 per cent by While many enthusiasts for centralisation and urbanisation argue this allows for resources to be used more efficiently, in developing countries this mass movement of people heading towards the cities in search of employment and opportunity often outstrips the pace of development, leading to slums, poor if any environmental regulation, and higher levels of centralised pollution.
Even in developed nations, more people are moving to the cities than ever before. The pressure placed on growing cities and their resources such as water, energy and food due to continuing growth includes pollution from additional cars, heaters and other modern luxuries, which can cause a range of localised environmental problems.
Humans have always moved around the world. However, government policies, conflict or environmental crises can enhance these migrations, often causing short or long-term environmental damage. For example, since conditions in the Middle East have seen population transfer also known as unplanned migration result in several million refugees fleeing countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.The Relationship Between Population and the Environment (Part 1) - A-level Geography -
The sudden development of often huge refugee camps can affect water supplies, cause land damage such as felling of trees for fuel or pollute environments lack of sewerage systems.
Unplanned migration is not only difficult for refugees. Having so many people living so closely together without adequate infrastructure causes environmental damage too. Population composition The composition of a population can also affect the surrounding environment. At present, the global population has both the largest proportion of young people under 24 and the largest percentage of elderly people in history. As young people are more likely to migrate, this leads to intensified urban environmental concerns, as listed above.
Life expectancy has increased by approximately 20 years since While this is a triumph for mankind, and certainly a good thing for the individual, from the planet's point of view it is just another body that is continuing to consume resources and produce waste for around 40 per cent longer than in the past.
Ageing populations are another element to the multi-faceted implications of demographic population change, and pose challenges of their own. For example between andJapan's proportion of people over 65 grew from 7 per cent to more than 20 per cent of its population. This has huge implications on the workforce, as well as government spending on pensions and health care.
Increasing lifespans are great for individuals and families. But with more generations living simultaneously, it puts our resources under pressure.
Population income is also an important consideration. The uneven distribution of income results in pressure on the environment from both the lowest and highest income levels.
They may also be forced to deplete scarce natural resources, such as forests or animal populations, to feed their families. On the other end of the spectrum, those with the highest incomes consume disproportionately large levels of resources through the cars they drive, the homes they live in and the lifestyle choices they make.
On a country-wide level, economic development and environmental damage are also linked. The least developed nations tend to have lower levels of industrial activity, resulting in lower levels of environmental damage. The most developed countries have found ways of improving technology and energy efficiency to reduce their environmental impact while retaining high levels of production.
It is the countries in between—those that are developing and experiencing intense resource consumption which may be driven by demand from developed countries —that are often the location of the most environmental damage.
Population and environment: a global challenge
Population consumption While poverty and environmental degradation are closely interrelated, it is the unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, primarily in developed nations, that are of even greater concern. For many, particularly in industrialised countries, the consumption of goods and resources is just a part of our lives and culture, promoted not only by advertisers but also by governments wanting to continually grow their economy.
Culturally, it is considered a normal part of life to shop, buy and consume, to continually strive to own a bigger home or a faster car, all frequently promoted as signs of success. It may be fine to participate in consumer culture and to value material possessions, but in excess it is harming both the planet and our emotional wellbeing. A first line of activities, aiming at improving the understanding of processes at work, would consist in retrospective studies, such as: Next comes a group of activities more practically oriented towards policy formulation.
Some are geared to establish necessary information bases and current diagnoses; others 7 are more of the "policy study" type in the strict sense, i.
Look specifically into the feasibility of spatially disaggregated indicators. Set up data collection and processing systems. Where feasible, build retrospective time series for these indicators as a starting point for analysis.
- Our growing population
This is an important and sometimes difficult task, since even in the case of a local environmental problem some of the populations affected may be located far from the area where the problem arises. Illustrate potential differences arising from alternative demographic scenarios. All these activities are meant to produce utilizable results in the policy making context i.
In most if not all cases, their promotion at government level and successful pursuit will require two types of activities: Finally, it is worth noting that population-environment linkages are, in many settings, an interesting addition to traditional population education themes: Field experiences in communication campaigns focused on such themes, built upon assessments of the people's perceptions regarding environmental change, its causes and consequences, can be utilized with profit in new contexts.
UNFPA support could be considered for some of these activities. UNFPA first stated its interest for studying selected aspects of the population-environment nexus several years ago already, in its Handbook of Policy Guidelines. In the population and environment area this task was effectively tackled only in ; the outcome is a well-articulated Guidance Note on Population and the Environment, the substance of which is the following. Population and development policies and plans should take environmental links and concerns into account.
UNFPA can help this process through "studies for incorporating demographic features into policies and plans as well as programmes designed to integrate the direct and induced effects of demographic changes on environment and development programmes". Policy-oriented research and analysis should bear on "the interaction between demographic trends and factors and sustainable development [and help] identify priority areas for action and develop strategies and programmes to mitigate the adverse impact of environmental change on human populations, and vice versa".
Examples of important issues are: A Potential population-supporting capacities: B Population pressure, poverty and environmental degradation: UNFPA can support policy-relevant research to clarify the relationship.
C Population and food security: UNFPA "can help clarify this important issue by, for example, supporting studies of national food production capability under different population growth and density scenarios", especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It can also support country studies on: