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Essay on “World Population vs World Resources” Complete Essay for Class 9, Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

World Population vs World Resources

Outlines : The problems associated with the Third World affect the whole world. How we deal with these problems will largely determine our future, and that of our children and grandchildren. What was already, in 1950, a record human population, tripled during the course of a single human lifetime. This surge represents an extraordinary and unprecedented situation. The challenge presented to the productivity capacity of the Earth by this increase is neither “normal” nor a circumstance that we can expect to deal with, by applying the standard behaviours of the past.

The worldwide distribution of this population growth ought also to be a major cause of concern. During the past 35 years, well over two thousand million people have been added in the less developed countries alone. This number equals the entire world population as recently as 1932. During the same period “only” 300 million people were added in the developed countries. About 90 per cent of this population growth occurred in countries that lie wholly or partly in the tropics, a relationship that is important to understand. By the year 2020, the population of the mainly tropical, less developed countries, will have grown from approximately 45 per cent of the total in 1950 to more than 64 per cent. The worldwide rate of economic growth has fallen substantially from the four per cent of characteristic of the third quarter of the 20th century. For the next two decades, many estimate that it may be no higher than two per cent, as it has been for the past several years. This sort of economic environment, in the context of the much discussed debts of some countries, makes it difficult to imagine how these countries will be able to meet the ordinary needs of their people, much less be able to improve conditions in the future. The developed countries control some 80 per cent of the global economy. In stark contrast, the less developed countries control only about 17.6 per cent of that economy. .Further, the developed countries consume about 80 per cent of the 4otal world supply of energy, the less developed countries about 12 per cent. In sum, a quarter of the world’s population (a proportion that is rapidly dropping) controls more than four fifths of the world’s goods, while a majority of the population (rapidly increasing in size) has access to no more than a sixth of any commodity involved in the world’s productivity. Can this relationship be sustained, as the disproportionate distribution of people becomes ever more extreme? The consequences of population growth, for example, in Kenya today, are absolutely different from those in Europe or the United States of a century ago, and a direct comparison between the two situations is invalid.

An associated global problem is that of the rapid destructions of forests and other potentially renewable tropical resources. In 1981, the Tropical Forest Resources Assessment Project of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that 44 per cent of the tropical rain forests had already been disturbed. The study estimated that about 1.1 per cent of the remainder was being logged each year at the time. The total area of the remaining forest amounted to approximately the size of the United States, west of the Mississippi River. If clearing were to continue at this rate, all the tropical rain forests would be gone in 90 years. The estimate only begins to suggest the gravity of the problem since clear cutting is merely the most extreme form of forest conversion. African conservationist Norman Myers, in his outstanding book, ‘The Primary Source’, estimates the overall rate of forest conversion to be two to three times as great as that suggested by the FAO figures. In the next 35 years, the population of the tropical countries will approximately double, from its present level, to about five thousand million. The governments of these countries are already faced with staggering debts, a sluggish world economy, and the rapid loss of the productive capacity of their lands. To expand their economies rapidly enough to continue to care for the needs of their people at 1984 levels, clearly, would be an unprecedented economic miracle for these governments. But even if they were able to do so, the numbers of their people living in absolute poverty would continue to increase as rapidly as their populations as a whole. Poor people would obviously continue to destroy their forests more and more rapidly with each passing year. Shifting cultivation and other forms of agriculture, generally fail quickly in most tropical regions. The reason lies in the characteristics of the soils and plants that occur in these areas. Although tropical soils are extremely varied, many are highly infertile. They are able to support lush forests, in spite of their infertility, because most of the meagre amounts of nutrients present actually, are held within the trees and other vegetation. The roots of these trees spread only through the top few centimetres of soil. Quickly and efficiently, the roots recover nutrients from the leaves that fall to the ground, transferring them directly back into the plants from which they have fallen. Once the trees have been cut, they decay or are burned, releasing relatively large amounts of nutrients into the soils. It is then possible to grow crops on this land successfully for a few years, until the available nutrients are used up. If the cutover areas are then left to recover for many years, and if there is undisturbed for nearby, the original plant communities may eventually be restored This process normally takes decades, even centuries, dependini upon the type of forest involved. But rarely will it be allowed to reach completion anywhere in the world, in the future. There are simply too many people and consequently too little time. The relent. less search for firewood, the most important source of energy in many parts of the tropics, is one reason that the forests usually cannot recover.

The FAO estimates that a 60 per cent increase in world food, production will be needed by the year 2000, if the world’s population is to be fed. It does not appear that current efforts will begin to approach this goal, although some optimistic estimates have suggested that half this level might be achieved. In World Indices of Agricultural and Food Production, issued in 1983, the US Department of Agriculture calculated that there has been little progress since 1973, in raising food consumption per capita for the world as a whole. For tropical countries, only sustainable local agricultural productivity—not food imports—will lead to stability. Only about eight per cent of the food eaten in tropical countries is imported and it is highly improbable that this total could be increased significantly, especially in the face of these nations’ staggering debts, and their rapid population increases. Unless these problems are recognised and addressed, the in stability, now characteristic of so many tropical countries, is likely to spread and to become increasingly serious. About two thirds of the people in these countries are farmers, and this number includes most of the truly poor, many with very little land, or none at all. Only if we can find better ways to use tropical land productivity for human benefit, concentrating on the areas that will be most productive and on the rural poor, shall we be making a genuine contribution to peace and harmony for those who come after us. Beyond the social and political consequences of the exhaustion of tropical resources, however, is a still more fundamental problem. It is extinction of a major fraction of the plants, animals and microorganisms during the lifetime of a majority of people on Easy’ today.

The total number of species in temperate regions is estimated to be approximately 1.5 million, but in relatively well-known groups”, of organisms—birds, mammals and plants—there are about twice. as many species in the tropics as in the temperate regions. it may therefore be estimated that at least three million species exist in the tropics. Of these, scientists have named and, therefore, registered no more than only six.

Many tropical organisms are very narrow in their geographical ranges, and are highly specific in their ecological requirements. Thus, tropical organisms are unusually vulnerable to extinction through disturbance of their habitats. More than half of the tropical species are confined to the lowland forests. In most areas, these forests will be substantially altered or gone within the next 20 years. The extinction event that can be projected within the life time of our children may be about as extensive as the one that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. For, at that time, David Raup, professor of geology at the University of Chicago, has estimated approximately 20 to 30 per cent of the total number of species may have disappeared permanently. There has been no comparable event since. With the loss of organisms, humanity gives up not only the opportunity to study and enjoy them, but also the chance to utilise them to better the human condition, both in the tropics and elsewhere. The economic importance of wild species, a tiny proportion of which are actually used, has’ been well documented. Suffice it to say that the entire basis of civilisation ‘rests on a few hundred species, and scientists have just begun to explore the properties of most of the remaining ones.

The process of extinction cannot be reversed or completely halted. Its effects can, however, be moderated by finding the most appropriate methods of utilising the potentially sustainable resources of tropical countries for human benefit. The explicit relationship between conservation and development was well outlined in the World Conservation Strategy, issued jointly in 1980 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Nature Resources, the World Wildlife Fund, and the United Nations Environmental Programme.

It may seem comforting, temporarily, to use unwarranted skepticism and inadequate understanding of ecology as a basis for offering false reassurance to government leaders. To do so, however, is to offer them exceedingly bad advice at an extraordinarily dangerous time.


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