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Thesis Statement: The negative impact of increasing population pressure upon environment may be at least partially improved by relocating people.
The intimate relationship of geography and environment helps us to comprehend many salient features of history and the changes that occurred from generation to generation. A greater appreciation for environment may stem from deeper understanding of humanity in their complex aspects constituting life, work and play. Political economy may be understood as a union of agriculture with the different social, economic and political aspects of our existence. (Castree et al, Making Sense of Environmental Geography)
The sustainability of the earth’s resources is being put to the severest test at the present moment when 7 billion people crowd the planet with excessive concentrations in some areas like Kolkata. On the other hand, some locations like Canada and Australia have a very low population density. Several other countries like Iceland and Bhutan have fewer people. The frozen wastes of the Arctic and Antarctic regions have no inhabitants only because conditions are not conducive to a normal existence. (Eaton, On the Farm and in the Field)
While we cannot survive in difficult conditions of the earth, science dreams of colonizing other planets like Mars as an alternative to the earthly existence.
What could be the causes of such a mismatch? Is it only an oddity of history or are pressing economic, social, religious or political factors behind such a divide. Are there any solutions like bringing about a global balance not only in population density but resources, standard of living, food, health and economic resources?
The Kolkata Scenario: THE LAST TABOO
In 2009, the world consumed the resources that would have belonged to 1.35 earths. United Nations believes that stability to the earth’s population would arrive in 2050 with 9.1 billion people. Strangely enough, the earth population was 3.3 billion in 1965. Of the 157 added to the world population every minute, only 4 are in the developed countries with 153 in the backward regions.
Eastern India is home to 300 million or the entire population of USA. Excessive population and consumption problems are most severe in India. Hard to believe but in India, 17 percent of the global human population occupy 2.5 percent of the land resources.
If the case of Kolkata is contrasted with America, it is a strange story of statistics beyond belief. The per capita consumption and income levels are at different ends of the spectrum. If people in Kolkata can survive on a dollar a day, Americans earn several dollars in a single hour. The absolutely unequal distribution of opportunities, wealth, education, health and lifestyle has been the topic of much heated debate. Is there a philosophical basis behind it? Why do people say that the world is almost equally divided between the haves and have-nots?
How does Population impact Environment?
It would be appropriate to commence with agricultural practice that sustains us in the first place and also includes the highest number of workers, both human and animal though more of mechanized farming is nowadays visible. Agriculture impacts the environment by releasing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, methane too. Agriculture changes the land and leads to deforestation and a desert like condition. Climate change results from global warming and rising carbon dioxide levels and impacts agriculture positively and negatively.
Irrigation reduces underground water levels. Over-irrigation may lead to water pollution. Agricultural chemicals soon turn into pollutants through misuse. The soil is degraded and plastics do further damage to the already fragile environment.
Technology upon which the majority of urban lives depend has succeeded in creating an artificial order at the expense of a natural disorder. Metals and plastics are the chief pollutants besides industrial wastes dumped into river ways. The use of petroleum products only painfully reminds that oil reserves are finite and would exhaust sooner rather than later. The search for renewable sources of energy is never ending.
Nuclear power has its dangers of radiation that enters living tissues and causes devastation. Fishing is depleting rivers and oceans besides the loss of ecological habitats due to greedy over ambitious entrepreneurs. Nanotechnology, paint and paper in spite of their tremendous benefits are harmful in diverse ways.
Causes for Human Migration and Relocation
Political and linguistic domination seems to be the heart of large scale movement of people. Stalin deported 1.5 million political enemies toSiberiaand theCentral Asianrepublics after the Second World War. Mussolini‘s establishment in Italy forced the minorities to adopt the national language and ethos. They wished to obliterate remnants of any race besides their own. All through recorded history we come across large scale movement of people based on religious, racial or political grounds. What can explain this large scale exodus? And what are the possible causes of banishment and exile?
Like the ongoing Syrian war crisis, war affects the peaceful lives of people and thousands suddenly turn refugees when they are compelled to cross international borders to escape atrocities or to enter refugee camps to have their basic needs fulfilled.
The partition and Independence of India in 1947 created two states along religious lines. The two religions Hinduism and Islam migrated across vast territories in the midst of violence, many having lost possessions and property.
Political and religious enmity seems to make sense. Genocide or the destruction of an entire race that is considered inferior is what Hitler attempted during the Second World War.
Migration and relocation for the sake of a better life with greater incomes, peace and prosperity attracts lakhs of people across dangerous illegal journeys each year. Many never make it in the process called human smuggling, a well run business across the globe.
After the internal Bhutanese dispute with the Nepalis settled in the southern border of Bhutan, large scale evictions of Nepalis took place. The displaced people landed in refugee camps in Nepal and India. Many of them got to eventually live and work in USA.
The most advanced country America isolated the native people in selected areas or reserves for unknown political reasons.
Having looked at the complex causes of history, environment, production and inequality, a possibility of leveling the human scenario to some semblance of justice may be achieved by relocating and transferring segments of populations. Something in the nature of adoption that is already practiced somewhat widely like Russian exchange students living in American homes; backward communities of Kolkata may be relocated to better off nations that suffer from population shortage. In spite of adjustment problems, people will work and earn in the new lease of existence. Many such countries like Australia and Canada want more people. If people have migrated on religious and political grounds, such a movement on humanitarian grounds could change the face of history. Who would organize it? United Nations, perhaps with the backing of the rich countries.
Castree, Noel et al. Introduction: Making sense of Environmental Geography http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781444305722.ch1/summary
Eaton, Emily. On the Farm and in the Field
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13563467.2011.542802#.UvoJ9_mSy7Ade Sherbinin, Alex et al. POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT
List of Environmental Problems http://www.buzzle.com/articles/lists-of-environmental-problems.html
Rand, Population and Environment (A Complex Relationship) http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5045/index1.html