Human Overpopulation: Impact on Environment

Human Overpopulation: Impact on Environment

Shivani Uniyal (Banaras Hindu University, India), Rashmi Paliwal (Kurukshetra University, India), Bhumija Kaphaliya (Kurukshetra University, India) and R. K. Sharma (Banaras Hindu University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9276-1.ch002
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Overpopulation has recognized as a global environmental problem since few decades, as it has caused a number of adverse effects on environment. Modern medical facilities and illiteracy in some interior regions of developing countries are the major reasons for development of this inverted pyramid demographic structure. Overpopulation has resulted in a series of catastrophic consequences by causing increased pressure on existing natural resources. Deforestation, effect on welfare, climate change, decline in biocapacity, urban sprawl, food security, increase in energy demand and effect on marine ecosystem are amongst most severe impacts of overpopulation. Concrete steps need to be taken on national and international level to combat the adverse effects of overpopulation, so that sustainability of natural resources can be ensured for future generations.
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An exponential growth of human population over the last few centuries has caused encroachment in the wild habitats and their consequent destruction, posing a potential threat to biodiversity components (Vinod, 2012). Growth rate of world population was approximately 2% per annum from 1960-2000, which indicted potential population doubling every 35 years thus could cause ecological unsustainability (Bloom, 2011). Projected world population growth for the major regions is presented in Table 1. Improved agriculture practices, modern medical facilities and illiteracy in rural regions caused demographic transition with more natality rate and decline in mortality rate. From 1980–81 until 1999–2000, agriculture showed a growth rate of 3.2% per annum, which exceeds the population growth rate of 2.0% annually over the period, while annual growth rate of per capita income was 3.1% between 1980 and 1991 and 4.3% since there forms of 1991 (Lal, 2006). According to the Inter Academy Panel Statement on Population Growth, several environmental concerns such as, elevated level of greenhouse gases, threat to biodiversity, climate change and environmental pollution are arisen as a result of rapid population growth (Coleman, 2011; Edet et al., 2014). This chapter reviews the impacts of overpopulation on environment, indicates future perspectives and provides some recommendation to combat the adverse impact of overpopulation.

Table 1.
Projected World Population Growth for Major Regions
Regions2010 Population (Millions)2050 population Projections (Millions)
Low FertilityMedium FertilityHigh Fertility
Latin America
and Caribbean
More developed
Less developed

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. (2010). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision.

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