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During Independence, India was one of the most populous countries of the world with 350 million people, since then it continued to grow at a higher rate with 1.37 billion people as of 2020.

Population and Biodiversity are closely related to each other and they have direct relationship with each other. Population ecology is the study of how the population of plants, animals or other organisms change over time. Critically speaking we are mentioning the population of humans here. It was during the Independence period, India was left with many issues including population explosion along with crippled economy, poverty etc. During Independence, India was one of the most populous countries of the world with 350 million people, since then it continued to grow at a higher rate with 1.37 billion people as of 2020.

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Causes of Population Explosion in India:

  • Hot Climate: One of the main reasons for the population explosion is the hot climate. Due to tropical climate maturity comes at an early age in boys and girls, due to which they give birth to children at earliest.
  • Early Marriage and Multi Marriage: 80% of girls of the country are married between 15-20 years. Thus the effect of early marriage comes in the form of long married life (long reproductive age period) and more childbirth.
  • Poverty, Illiteracy, High life expectancy (from 35 years in 1947 to 69 years in 2021), low Death Rate (from 45 per Thousand in 1947 to 8 per Thousand in 2021), Refugee migration etc. are some other causes of Population Explosion in India.

Relationship between Population Explosion and Loss of Biodiversity and its Effects:

Population Explosion has a direct relationship with Loss of Biodiversity. Population growth affect biodiversity in following ways;

  • Deforestation: Human greed is the main enemy of biodiversity. More forest habitat is being converted into agricultural and urban land as it pollutes the habitat through production of waste which adds to the loss.
  • Increased Resource Consumption: Increase in resource consumption is directly proportional to overpopulation, more the population more resources are needed for existence.
  • Farming Impacts: Due to increase in population, demand for food has also increased. This is achieved by cutting down forests more or less with government support to convert forest land into agricultural land. As a result of this practice, forest area is shrinking day by day thereby damaging the environment and natural habitat.
  • Pollution: Increase in population leads to increased waste production thereby polluting the environment and habitat.
  • Eutrophication: A process by which water bodies are enriched with minerals or chemical substances that increase in phytoplankton production. This is through direct or indirect human activity. 
  • Global Warming and Climate Change: Another negative impact of overpopulation is in the form of Global Warming. Global Warming is a current challenge of almost all the countries in common and Southeast Asia ( India) in particular. There have been many agreements by different countries to tackle climate change and global warming. One of them is the Paris Agreement 2015, according to which the signatory countries are expected to lower their carbon emissions. India is also a signatory of this agreement.
  • Increased Emergence of new Pandemics due to Overpopulation and its effect on Environment: There’s a strong correlation between emergence of new Pandemics and Overpopulation. According to Dr Peter Daszak due to the increase in population we are witnessing new variation and emergence of more diseases.

Direct Activity includes Sewage Deposition in or around water bodies.

Indirect Activity includes washing away fertilizers ( from agricultural land) or other chemicals during floods.

  • Global Warming and Climate Change: Another negative impact of overpopulation is in the form of Global Warming. Global Warming is a current challenge of almost all the countries in common and Southeast Asia ( India) in particular. There have been many agreements by different countries to tackle climate change and global warming. One of them is the Paris Agreement 2015, according to which the signatory countries are expected to lower their carbon emissions. India is also a signatory of this agreement.
  • Increased Emergence of new Pandemics due to Overpopulation and its effect on Environment: There’s a strong correlation between emergence of new Pandemics and Overpopulation. According to Dr Peter Daszak due to the increase in population we are witnessing new variation and emergence of more diseases.

Solutions and Future policies to prevent overpopulation and Loss of Biodiversity

Solutions to Overpopulation: Overpopulation is the problem that didn’t arise overnight and nor it’s solution can be made in a day. Overpopulation is a very complex process to tackle and is a long term process which needs a long term planning.

  • Legislation: Legislation is an important factor to tackle overpopulation. Recently the Population Control Bill was proposed in 2019 to control the population growth of India. The bill was proposed but unfortunately it is yet to become a law in the country.
  • Family Planning
  • Women Empowerment
  • Education (Sexual and Adult Education) about the control methods (Contraception).
  • Poverty Alleviation ( Equity, Opportunity, Empowerment).
  • Maternal Education (One of the main approaches to reduce IMR and decrease Poverty).

Solutions to Conserve Biodiversity: By reducing Overpopulation has a direct effect on biodiversity conservation. We can conserve biodiversity through different approaches viz;

  • Effective Legislation: Legislation to conserve natural habitat and natural resources.
  • Afforestation: This is an important and long term approach to tackle climate change, global warming and to conserve biodiversity.
  • Reduce Climate Change: Global Warming can be reduced by minimising carbon emissions and shifting to alternative energy sources as signed to Paris Agreement 2015.
  • Sustainable Living: Sustainable Living is something that can be done at an individual level. It helps to reduce resource depletion.
  • Use Of Eco Friendly Products

Overpopulation and Loss of the environment is a great challenge in front of us because it puts our existence in danger.

Overpopulation and Loss of the environment is a great challenge in front of us because it puts our existence in danger. The fact is we can’t compensate for the loss we have done to our environment but it is our responsibility to protect it from further damage by taking small steps  that could surely make a big change in the environment like from closing a running tap during brushing teeth to planting a tree. Are we really doing justice to our environment?

Composed by: Dr Sameer Ul Haq is doing his Masters in Public Health from Indian Institute of Public Health, Shillong. He has many achievements to his badge in various fields like Public Health, Global Health,Epidemiology besides having clinical skills. He is currently working on a Mental Health project.

Photo from Unsplash

InnoHEALTH magazine digital team

Author InnoHEALTH magazine digital team

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