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World Population Day 2021 and Our Environment

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 6 minutes read

By: N. Munal Meitei

Today, 11th July is celebrating as the World Population Day as the world population reached 5 billion on this day during 1987 and it is observed to raise awareness among people about the impact of a growing population and issues including gender equality, the importance of family planning, poverty, maternal health, human rights and environmental problems.
The current world population is 7.9 billion and India’s population is 1.39 billion as of Friday, July 2, 2021 as per World meter. Thus 1 in every 5 persons on the earth is an Indian. The world population will touch 16 billion by 2100 and that will really be a population bomb. The theme for world population day 2021 is “Rights and choices are the answer.” This theme calls for the solution to shift the fertility rates and the access to quality family planning in reproductive health and it prioritizes on the self-right of the people.
India was the first country to launch the national family planning program in 1952 with the objective of reducing birth rate to stabilize the population with the requirement of national economy. Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. Therefore it implies the rights of men and women to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning at their choice.
It also gives the message that to live together equitably on a healthy planet will depend on the choices and decisions we make now. This is an opportunity to celebrate our common humanity in diversity. It is also a reminder of our responsibility to care for each other and our planet.
This second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has taken a staggering toll on people, communities and economies all over the world, while others are locked in fighting back from the pandemic. But in some angles, it’s claimed to increase the population due this prolonged home capturing.
Human and environmental health underpins the millennium development goals which seek to eradicate poverty and hunger and ensure environmental sustainability. But to fulfill such important factorsfor7.9 billion people by mother earth will be next to impossible. Thus, almost 821 million people in the world – 1 in 8 – do not have access to enough food. Around 2.2 billion world population i.e. 1 in 3 people do not have safety drinking water and 1.6 billion people, say 20% of the world’s population do not have their adequate housing.
The links between population growth and threats to the environment cannot be denied. Humans living on the earth tend to overlook the obvious fact that an increasing population leads to a significant increase of consumption that causes an increase of waste in the environment. We need a balance with increasing population to the conservation of the earth’s natural resources. People live their daily lives not concerning themselves with the strains that they place on their environment. We are making a significant decline in the earth’s living species and land area for that we need to solve it now.
One of the reasons for the rapid population growth is technological development. Every time we make another major improvement in technology, we push environmental capacity to another limit. We mined, farmed, built power plants and so on to make the earth more suitable for us to inhabit, which in turn leads to population growth. Another reason for population growth is improvement in the health sector. People live longer and longer these days. In 2000, the average global life expectancy was 67 years but now it has increased to 72.6. With improvement in health care, we reduced the death rate, which ultimately contributed to population growth.
At present, globally it is estimated that 5 persons are born and about 2 persons die every second resulting in an increase of approximately 3 persons per second. This increase is about 9.46 crores population per year. FAO estimates that a person requires about 1.57 kg. of food per day. Hence in order to have the livelihood for these increased mouths, a huge tropical rainforest is cleared to the size of a football ground per minute amounting to twice the size of North-East India every year. The total number of trees cut will be around 4 billion trees per annum meanwhile the overall forestation and natural regeneration are less than 1%. Think may be made; a tree can sink about one ton of CO2 in its life and can also produce the oxygen requirement for 8-10 persons annually. And forests are the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world which hold thousands of undiscovered species, potential medicines and indigenous peoples.
In India for rural communities, they often depend on their local environment to provide them with their food, water, medicines and wood for fuel. Livelihoods are often dependent on natural resources, forcing growing populations to use resources unsustainably. Preservation of healthy ecosystems is essential from a conservation perspective, but also for the wellbeing of communities themselves.
Due to faster population growth in forest and tribal areas, naturally available forest resources and non-timber forest products are becoming inadequate for their basic livelihood. Many tribal people are giving up their traditional lifestyle and taking up farming and cattle ranching in the forest areas causing irreparable damage. Such people, formerly the protectors of forests, are gradually becoming threats to the forests and the wildlife. Governments should devise schemes to avert this harm and save the dwindling forest areas including the flora and fauna.
In Manipur, the population impact to our environment is innumerous. Due to the increase in population, the present pressures on our forests are many fold. Our so-called national parks, sanctuaries, and most of the forest areas are pressurized in many forms. To feed the increased population, many wetlands of the state have now turned into croplands and fish farms. But we know wetlands are the cradle for biodiversity. Hence, we should protect our wetlands by strictly implementing the Manipur conservation of paddy land and wetland Act, 2014.
Due to large scale poppy plantation, illicit felling of trees, extraction of firewood to feed the brick-kilns have given a big challenge to our environment. Every year huge tones of charcoal are produced not only to cook and toast the winter cold but to run for many small scale industries like blacksmith, goldsmith, dhobi and many morning hotels in the localities. In our state, for making charcoal, many coppicing species are uprooted and burnt. This is the worst act leading to soil erosion and many other ecological imbalances.
Therefore until and unless we control the population explosion, we would not be able to save our environment and if we do not voluntarily accept this fact and take the responsibility, then we will surely be in an environmental dilemma within the next few years.
(The writer is Environmentalist. [email protected])


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