The Damaging Impact of Overpopulation on the Environment
6.5 billion…This is not a whole lot of bacteria, but when it comes to humans, it is a very formidable number. The human population has been increasing at an extremely high rate in the last century and unfortunately, not much has been done to slow down this process. Undoubtedly, overpopulation is a global issue. It is global because it pertains to all of humanity, but global also means that it affects the whole world, i.e. the environment. Almost all human activities impact negatively the environment in one form or another, and as human population expands, the damaging effects on the environment multiply. Here are some of the most imminent environmental problems that results from human population growth:
1. Water supply. Water is one of the basic elements of live, and it is needed to preserve the balance of every ecosystem. It cools down and cleanses the environment and is used by plants and animals to carry out vital functions. As human population increases, so does the consumption of water. In the past fifty years, the per capita availability of fresh water has decreased by one third.* Fresh water supply is a problem in most of the developing countries, especially those located in arid climates such as in Africa, South America and Asia. In some African countries, fresh water needs to be carried daily from sources more than two hours walking distance. Water supply is an issue in urban areas as well. In Beijing, the water table falls down with as much as two meters annually.*
2. Water pollution. The problem with water is not only over consumption, but also pollution. "More than 95% of urban sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated into the nearest waterway or field."* The main contributors to water pollution are factories and open mines, discarding waste water with heavy metals, toxic substances and solid waste, which are virtually impossible to purify. The situation is even worse when it comes to ocean exploitation and pollution. Over fishing changes the balance in coastal ecosystems and decreases fish populations. Sometimes it might even lead to extinction of certain marine species. Over fishing also damages coral reefs, because it allows algae to overgrow them. It turns out that the ocean is "the ultimate garbage dump "* because eventually all of the sewage, sediment from forest clearing, fertilizer and pesticide run-off flow into it. It is important to preserve the ocean, not only because it is an important source of food, but also because it plays a major role in climate regulation. The circulation of cold and warm water protects the earth from extreme temperature fluctuations. In addition, oceans absorbs between 30 and 40% of the CO2 given off as a result...