Overpopulation is an undesirable situation where the number of human beings currently inhabiting Earth exceeds its capacity to sustain them. This phenomenon arises due to a number of complex factors. These include the increase in people’s life expectancy, a decline in the infant mortality rate, poverty, and lack of family planning education. It is also causing widespread environmental degradation in the form of depletion of the planet’s natural resources, increase in greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, adverse climate change, and water pollution.
Environmental sustainability definition – How does population growth adversely affect the environment?
The current population explosion is driving this unique planet to an ecological breaking point. The ever-increased number of people inhabiting the Earth beyond an optimum level is adversely affecting the environment. It puts tremendous strain on the planet’s depleting resources. This is because there is a greater demand for adequate food supplies, housing, clean drinking water, fuel, healthcare, transportation, and industrialization. As a result, many countries are experiencing severe environmental degradation in the form of:
- Large-scale deforestation to make land available agriculture, industrialization, and mining
- Decrease in biodiversity through the destruction of the natural habitat of many wildlife species,
- The rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere resulting in air pollution,
- An adverse change in climate patterns, and
- Rise in water pollution by disposing of sewage and industrial waste into water bodies.
People need to realize that it is imperative to urgently address the issues contributing to the current spiraling population growth. Otherwise, they will never be in a position to preserve the Earth’s unique ecosystem and biodiversity for future generations. Above all, they need to have a clear understanding of the environmental sustainability definition given:
Environmental sustainability refers to the responsibility of every human being to consciously conserve Earth’s precious natural resources and fragile ecosystem. This ensures the planet has enough resources to improve the quality of life of both the present and future generations. It involves finding the ideal equilibrium between their present consumerist attitude and the living world they inhabit. Then, they will be able to achieve the following three objectives, which form the foundation of environmental sustainability:
- Eradicating extreme poverty and guaranteeing full employment to everyone at fair remunerations,
- Protecting Earth’s biodiversity by limiting the environmental consequences of human activities, and
- Guaranteeing every human being access to Earth’s basic resources.
A decline in the present population growth to an optimum level will ensure fulfillment of the objectives of environmental sustainability by:
- Encouraging the use of innovative sustainable agricultural technologies to eliminate poverty,
- Utilizing renewable energy sources to reduce the impact of burning fossil fuels on the climate,
- Ensuring everyone has access to clean drinking water and sanitation via water purification projects,
- Offering families healthcare, educational and financial incentives to have fewer children, and
- Re-assessing human consumption patterns and recycling waste to minimize carbon emissions.
Having a clear understanding of the environmental sustainability definition enables people to take steps to address the issues causing population growth. They take the initiative to consciously reduce their carbon footprint by analyzing how the size of their families impacts the environment. In the process, they will be preserving Earth’s ecosystem for future generations with success.