- During the last century, human impact on the natural world has increased dramatically.
- Many of the negative impacts have been due to pollution and the vast increase in the consumption of non-renewable resources (particularly by the developed nations).
- In addition to this, the world population (now at about 6 billion) is growing by 80 million every year.
- The predicted rate of growth is unknown although some projections suggest that the population in 2050 may be as high as 12 billion people.
A graph showing the growth of the human population can be found at:
This dramatic growth in population can contribute towards the following, which seriously threaten global biodiversity:
- Air pollution contributing towards global warming, ozone depletion and acid rain.
- Climate change – rises in sea levels.
- Fumes from the combustion engine leading to serious air pollution in some areas – global dimming.
- Global water consumption leading to serious water shortages.
- Global energy consumption (increased by 70% since 1970) using up fossil fuels and contributing towards greenhouse gas emissions.
- Production of vast quantities of waste with little recycling (pollution and depletion of resources).
- Depletion of natural resources due to high consumption by industrial economies (45-85 tonnes per person annually)
- Aquatic environments (coral reefs – 58% are at risk) are being destroyed.
- Extinction of species – current rates are 100-1000 times higher than pre-human times.
- Deforestation due to burning and logging.
- Overfishing of fish stocks.
- In some areas, human population growth exceeds food production and many are under-nourished or starving. Need for increased agriculture.
The environmental impact of population growth