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World Population Day, 2019

- By Rahul Yadav

World Population Day is celebrated every year on 11th of July, it is a day to spread awareness about the problems related to population. It was started by the Governing Council of UNDP in 1989. The population on our planet is growing however, there are still many parts of the world that are under-populated. Both over population and under population are a cause of concern.

Fig 1: World Population Percentage

History Behind World Population Day

This date (11th July) was inspired from the public sentiment on 5 billion day. It was the date on which the global population reached an enormous five billion in the year 1987. Population had been an increasing cause of concern since decades however, as it reached the five billion mark, the need to educate people about its graveness was felt.

Impact of Population on Environment

The relationship between population growth, resource depletion and environmental degradation has been a matter of debate for decades. The argument has been between those who view population numbers per se as the main culprit in increasing pressure on the environment and those who place more blame on economic development, non-sustainable agricultural and industrial practices and excessive & wasteful consumption.

In fact, both population growth and non-sustainable development are cause for concern in India. Though the relationship is complex, population size and growth tend to expand and accelerate these human impacts on the environment. More people require more resources, which means that as the population increases, the Earth’s resources deplete more rapidly. The result of this depletion is deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

Major Environmental Challenges due to overpopulation are as follows :

1) Rising Demand for Energy: As the Population increases energy consumption also increases. The environmental effects due to increasing consumption levels of fuels like coal, lignite, oil and nuclear etc. are of growing concern. The combustion of these fuels in industries has been a major source of pollution.

2) Global Warming and Climate Change: Large population and rapidly increasing energy use plays an important and growing role in global warming. Global warming can have major physical, environmental and socioeconomic consequences due to overpopulation.

3) Water Scarcity and Water Pollution: The amount of water available per person has declined in recent decades primarily because of population growth and water scarcity is projected to worsen in the future. Overpopulation leads to burden on available surface and ground water which in turn causes water scarcity. Use of modern pesticides, fertilizers and increase in untreated domestic and industrial effluent causes water pollution.

4) Declining Per Capita Forest Land and Agricultural Land: The population growth has resulted in a downward trend in per capita availability of forest and agricultural land since the 1950s. Per capita availability of forests in India is much lower than the world average, similarly the per capita availability of agricultural land in rural areas has decline consistently from 0.638 hectare in 1950-51 to 0.271 hectare in 1998-99 and is expected to decline further as population continues to grow.

5) Habitat Destruction and Loss of Biodiversity: Protection of earth's biological diversity is an important goal in its own right. Population growth leads to expanding human settlements and increasing demand for food, fuel and building materials. Modernization of agriculture also threatens potentially valuable local crops which lead to loss of habitat and biodiversity.

6) Changing Consumption Patterns: The economic and industrial development is unavoidably accompanied by changing patterns of consumption. The number of registered motor vehicles in India provides one useful indicator of expanding consumption and economic growth. The increasing vehicles in country, producing more air pollution, fuel consumption, traffic jams and demands for road construction often at the cost of agricultural land. In most urban areas of India, air pollution has worsened due to traffic congestion, poor housing, poor sanitation and drainage and garbage accumulation.


The outcomes of high population growth rates are increasing number of people below poverty line, an increasing population density and pressure on natural resources. It is important to remember that humans can make changes that positively impact the planet. One good starting point is understand and apply the concept of sustainability.

The growth of population is a fundamental factor in its relationship to natural resources, environment and technology. Thus, there is an urgent need to control population and poverty, conserve and protect natural resources and the environment for healthy human beings.