Generally, we tend to forget that poor people are the most undefended people when it comes to effects of environmental pollution, and other environmental issues such as climate change and global warming. In my viewpoint, it is very important for everyone to acknowledge the fact that poverty and environmental issues are interrelated. Poverty among people puts stress on the environment whereas environmental problems cause severe suffering to the poor. People, whether they be rich or poor, consume water, food, and natural resources in order to remain alive. Almost all economic activities may be directly, indirectly or remotely based on natural resources and any pressure on natural resources can cause environmental stress. Environmental damage can prevent people, especially the poor people, from having good and hygienic living standards. As poor people rely more directly on the environment than the rich for their survival, they are mostly on the receiving end of environmental problems.
On a normal basis, poverty often causes people to put relatively more pressure on the environment which results in larger families (due to high death rates and insecurity), improper human waste disposal leading to unhealthy living conditions, more pressure on fragile land to meet their needs, overexploitation of natural resources and more deforestation. Insufficient knowledge about agricultural practices can also lead to decline in crop yield and productivity. On the other hand, environmental problems add more to the miseries of poor people. Environmental problems cause more suffering among them as environmental damage increases the impact of floods and other environmental catastrophes. Soil erosion, land degradation and deforestation leads to decline in food production along with shortage of wood for fuel contributes to inflation. In short, the worst consequences of environmental deterioration, whether they be economical, social, or related to metal or physical wellbeing, are experienced by the poor people.
Environmental stress has often been seen as the result of the increase of demand of scarce resources and the pollution generated by the rising living standards of the relatively well off population. But poverty itself pollutes the environment more or less, creating environmental stress in a different way. The poor and hungry population tend to destroy their immediate environment in order to obtain resources which will help them to survive. They tend to cut down forests, overuse marginal land, allow livestock to overgraze grassland and they crowd into congested cities in numbers. The cumulative effect of these changes is so far making poverty itself a major contributor to environmental stress. In other words, poverty, as well as poor people may be seen as primary causes of environmental degradation. Therefore the poor may be victims, but they are also agents.
The Poverty-Environment Hypothesis
“Many parts of the world are...