Population Growth Impact On Environment – Maureen Lichtveld does not work for, consult with, receive stock from, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has no related academic appointments. Relationship not disclosed.
Will we have enough food for the growing world population? How will we care for so many people in the next pandemic? What will heat do to millions of people with high pressure? Are countries fighting a water war due to increasing drought?
Population Growth Impact On Environment
These threats have three things in common: health, climate change and a growing population that the United Nations has set at 8 billion people by November 2022 – double the population of just 48 years ago.
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In my 40-year career, first working in the Amazon rainforest with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and then in academia, I have faced many public health threats, but none as controversial as climate change.
Of the adverse health effects associated with climate, these four represent the greatest public health concerns for an aging population.
For example, flooding can affect water quality and habitats where harmful bacteria and vectors such as mosquitoes can breed and transmit infectious diseases to humans.
Dengue, a painful mosquito-borne viral disease that sickens about 100 million people each year, is more common in hot, humid environments. According to the Lancet Census 2022 report, its R0, or actual reproductive number, has increased by more than 12% between 2012-2021 since the 1950s. The malaria season has increased by 31% in the mountains of Latin America and about 14% in the mountains of Africa as temperatures have risen over the same period.
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Patients rest in a makeshift dengue ward in a hospital during an outbreak in Pakistan in 2021. Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images
Flooding can also spread water-borne organisms that cause diseases such as hepatitis and diarrhea, such as cholera, especially when large numbers of people are displaced by disasters and live in areas where drinking water is scarce. Or washing is not possible.
Drought can also reduce the quality of drinking water. As a result, large populations of rodents enter human communities in search of food, increasing the potential for the spread of hantavirus.
Extreme heat can exacerbate existing health problems, such as heart and respiratory diseases. But when heat stress becomes heat stroke, it can damage the heart, brain and kidneys and be fatal.
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Today, approximately 30% of the world’s population experiences potentially fatal heat stress each year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that this percentage will increase from 48% to 76% by the end of this century.
In addition to loss of life, heat exposure is estimated to cause 470 billion potential work hours lost worldwide in 2021, with $669 billion in lost income. As the population grows and temperatures rise, more people will rely on fossil fuel-powered air conditioners, further contributing to climate change.
The Lancet review found that higher temperatures in 2021 shortened the growing season by an average of 9.3 days for corn or sorghum and six days for wheat, compared to the 1981-2020 average. Meanwhile, warmer seas can kill shellfish and the fisheries coastal communities depend on. In 2020 alone, heat waves could expose 98 million more people to food insecurity than the 1981-2010 average.
A Zimbabwean farmer turned to sorghum, a wheat crop that can grow in dry conditions, as drought dried up other crops in 2019. By Jakesai Njikizana/AFP Getty Images
Aging Is The Real Population Bomb
Rising temperatures also affect freshwater supplies through evaporation and shrinking mountain glaciers and snow that historically drain water during the summer months.
Water scarcity and drought are likely to displace 700 million people by 2030, according to UN estimates. Along with population growth and energy needs, they can exacerbate geopolitical conflict as countries face food shortages and competition for water.
Air pollution may be exacerbated by climate change drivers. Warm air and fossil fuels contribute to global-warming ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. It can increase allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems, as well as heart disease.
Wildfires spreading through hot, dry landscapes increase the health risks of air pollution. Wildfire smoke is full of tiny particles that can go deep into the lungs, causing heart and respiratory problems.
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Smoking is a persistent problem in New Delhi, India. It got so bad in 2017 that the city temporarily closed its elementary schools. By Sajjad Hussain/AFP Getty Images
Many groups and medical experts are working to combat this cascade of adverse climate impacts on human health.
The US National Academy of Medicine has faced a major challenge to accelerate research in the areas of climate change, human health and equity. At many academic institutions, such as the Pittsburgh School of Public Health, where I am dean, climate and health are integrated into research, teaching, and service.
Addressing the health burden is important for low- and middle-income countries. Often, the most vulnerable people in these countries face the greatest impacts of climate change without the resources to protect their health and environment. Population growth may deepen these disparities.
Human Population Dynamics
Adaptation assessment can help high-risk countries prepare for the impacts of climate change. Development groups lead projects to develop crops that can be grown in dry conditions. The Pan American Health Organization, which focuses on the Caribbean, is an example of how countries are working to build regional capacity to reduce infectious diseases and deal with the effects of climate change.
Countries around the world pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 1992. Thirty years later, global emissions are only beginning to decline, and communities around the world continue to face heat waves and catastrophic floods and droughts.
The UN discussion on climate change, which in my opinion does not focus enough on health, could help focus attention on the significant impacts of an unhealthy climate. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted: As we celebrate our progress, “it is at the same time a reminder of our shared responsibility to care for our planet and a moment to reflect on what we Where to go.” Summary on our promises. Another.”
Samantha Tutoni, a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, contributed to this article. In just 50 years, the world’s population has more than doubled to 7.4 billion. That’s more than 7.4 billion bodies that need to be fed, clothed, and warmed, all of which require large amounts of energy. In addition to this consumption, these 7.4 billion people also produce large amounts of waste. Consequently, energy demand and waste production are significant producers of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The impacts of climate change are significant worldwide and their effects are already beginning to affect different societies to varying degrees.
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Rising seas: As temperatures rise, seas begin to rise, eventually threatening low-lying areas, coastal populations, and ecosystems. Rising seas also have the potential to encroach on agricultural land, causing soil salinization and other environmental hazards, as well as encroach on freshwater resources that people depend on for drinking water. do
Ecosystem: Many plants and animals live in areas with specific climatic conditions, which allow them to survive and thrive. Extreme weather patterns, rising temperatures, and rising seas are already affecting plants and animals, changing their habitats and bringing life-threatening stresses and diseases.
Agriculture: Although some countries are currently benefiting from rising temperatures and changing conditions of carbon dioxide, climate change is expected to have a negative impact on crops, livestock and fish in many regions, especially the intensity and severity of droughts. Due to changes in and flood – in the end. affects our food supply.
Human health: The impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, climate change, and poor air quality directly affect our health through the food we eat, the water we drink, breathe, and the weather we experience. and indirectly endanger . These impacts will fall disproportionately on developing countries and the poorest regions of all countries, increasing inequality in health status and access to quality food, clean water and other resources.
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This list is not exhaustive and there will certainly be examples of real-time impacts of climate change in many places. These problems affect us all and mitigating these challenges will require significant collaboration. The World Wildlife Fund says, “We have the knowledge and technology to reduce our impact on climate and reduce the pressure on the world’s most vulnerable places, people and wildlife. We have to do it.”
Climate change is a theme for the 2016-2017 World’s 7 Billion Student Video Contest. For more information on population and climate, see the competition’s background resource.
Population Education provides K-12 teachers with innovative lesson plans, practices, and professional development to teach about human population growth and its impact on the environment and human well-being. PopEd is a mass communication program. Learn more about PopEd.