For example, paying money to people with two or fewer children or allowing free education for families with a single child has been trialled with some success. However, there are debates about incentive programs (such as paying women in India to undergo sterilisation). Opponents question whether accepting these incentives is really is a choice, or whether the recipient has been coerced into it through community pressure or financial desperation.
Education is the foundation for our future, and not only because it helps to reduce unsustainable birthrates. Image source: European Commission DG ECHO / Flickr.
Fewer forks can also cover another complicated area-the option of seriously controlling population growth by force. China has done so in the past and attracted both high praise and severe humanitarian criticism. This is a morally-, economically- and politically-charged topic, to which there is no easy answer.
3. Better manners: Less is more
The better manners approach seeks to educate people about their actions and the consequences of those actions, leading to a change in behaviour. This relates not only to individuals but also governments. Individuals across the world, but particularly in developed countries, need to reassess their consumption patterns. Numerous studies have shown that more ‘stuff’ doesn’t make people happier anyway. We need to step back and re-examine what is important and actively find ways to reduce the amount of resources we consume. Taking shorter showers, saying no to single-use plastics, buying less, recycling our waste and reviewing our mode and frequency of travel may seem trivial, but if millions around the world begin to do it as well, the difference will begin to add up.
Being a good global citizen can include anything from reducing your plastic consumption to volunteering and helping others. Image source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Flickr.
Governments too need to instigate shifts in environmental policy to protect and enhance natural areas, reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, invest in renewable energy sources and focus on conservation as priorities.
Where to from here?
Population is an issue that cannot be ignored. While we can all do our bit to reduce our own global footprint, the combined impact of billions of other footprints will continue to add up. There are many who believe that if we do not find ways of limiting the numbers of people on Earth ourselves, then Earth itself will eventually find ways of doing it for us.
Interestingly, despite population increase being such a serious issue, the United Nations has held only https://besthookupwebsites.org/meetville-review/ three world conferences on population and development (in 1945, 1974 and 1994).
However, governments around the world are beginning to recognise the seriousness and importance of the situation, and are taking steps to reduce the environmental impacts of increasing populations and consumption such as through pollution reduction targets for air, soil and water pollutants. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, scheduled for ple; however any international policies need to be backed up by workable solutions at the individual, local and regional level.
With more than 7.3 billion people on the planet, it’s easy to assume someone else will tackle and solve the issue of population and environment. Yet it is an issue that affects us all, and as such we’re all responsible for working towards a sustainable future in which everyone is able to enjoy a good quality of life without destroying the very things we rely on to survive. It’s possible, but it will take the combined and coordinated efforts of individuals, communities, and governments to get there.
The IPAT equation is not perfect, but it does help to demonstrate that population is not the only (or necessarily the most important) factor relating to environmental damage.
Humans have always moved around the world. However, government policies, conflict or environmental crises can enhance these migrations, often causing short or long-term environmental damage. For example, since 2011 conditions in the Middle East have seen population transfer (also known as unplanned migration) result in several million refugees fleeing countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The sudden development of often huge refugee camps can affect water supplies, cause land damage (such as felling of trees for fuel) or pollute environments (lack of sewerage systems).
To complicate matters, environmental impacts of high levels of consumption are not confined to the local area or even country. For example, the use of fossil fuels for energy (to drive our bigger cars, heat and cool our bigger houses) has an impact on global CO2 levels and resulting environmental effects. Similarly, richer countries are also able to rely on resource and/or waste-intensive imports being produced in poorer countries. This enables them to enjoy the products without having to deal with the immediate impacts of the factories or pollution that went in to creating them.
Birth rates naturally decline when populations are given access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, education for boys and girls beyond the primary level is encouraged and made available, and women are empowered to participate in social and political life. Continuing to support programs and policies in these areas should see a corresponding drop in birth rates. Similarly, as the incomes of individuals in developing countries increase, there is a corresponding decrease in birth rates. This is another incentive for richer countries to help their poorer neighbours reach their development potential.