Overpopulation Causes Environmental Degradation in India and Pakistan
India has a dependency percentage of 51.6 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.77. The index calculates that India is overpopulated by 594.32 million people. Pakistan has a dependency percentage of 49.9 per cent on other nations and an ecological footprint of 0.75. The index calculates that Pakistan is overpopulated by 80 million people. Pakistan is less crowded than China (ranked 29), India (ranked 33) and the US (ranked 35), according to the index. Singapore is the most overcrowded and Bukina Faso the least on a list of 77 nations assessed by the Optimum Population Trust.
The index examined data available from over 130 nations and found that 77 of them are overpopulated, including India, Pakistan and China. That means that these nations are consuming more resources than they are producing and are dependent on other countries, and the earth, to compensate for that.
"Dependency and self-sufficiency ratings are based on ratio of footprint to bio-capacity, showing the percentage of footprint not supported from bio-capacity. Sustainable population shows number that can be supported from bio-capacity at current
Concurring with the British report is another similar report prepared by the California-based Global Footprint Network (GFN) in 2008. With a per person footprint of 0.80 global hectares (0.60 for Pakistan) and per person bio-capacity deficit of 0.40 global hectares (0.3 for Pakistan), India is running an ecological deficit of 100 percent. The ecological footprint measures human demand on the biosphere in terms of the land and sea area required to provide the resources we use and to absorb the waste we generate. Bio-capacity refers to the capacity of a given biologically productive area to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb its spill-over wastes.
Like per capita emission of green house gases, per capita ecological footprint of an average South Asian is much lower than the world average. The per person ecological footprint was 0.80 for an average Indian and 0.60 for average Pakistani in 2003 when the world average was 2.2 global hectare. At the same time, because of rising population South Asia's total national ecological footprint has doubled since 1961, contributing to the degradation of its natural capital. As a result, while South Asia's overall wealth as measured by GDP has risen for reasons of better exploitation of resources over the years, its per capita bio-capacity has shrunk reducing its per capita ecological footprint. More and more people are sharing a shrinking bio-capacity.
One of the key contributors to declining ecological capacity is the dwindling fresh water. After China and India, there are other relatively less populous countries with large water deficits — Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, and Pakistan. Four of these already import a large share of their grain. Only Pakistan remains self-sufficient. But with a population expanding by 4 million a year, it has begun to turn to the world market for grain.
As the need for development grows, the natural resources like forests come under threat, endangering the livelihood of the poor, especially the tribal poor in India, who sustain themselves on the forest resources. As most of the densely forested areas are rich in minerals, these have become conflict zones pitting Indian government and resource-hungry industries against the rising Maoist insurgency. What is more, these have become the reasons for conflicts between the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests and other ministries which relate to economic development. Though there is a huge and growing gap between India's haves and the have-nots, the catchy phrase “India now consumes two Indias”, therefore, sums up the Indian “resource overshoot”.
In addition to the dwindling natural resources, there is a serious threat posed by climate change in South Asia. At 8 feet below sea level, Pakistan's financial capital Karachi shows up on the list of world's mega-cities threatened by global warming. Other South Asian cities likely to come under rising sea water in the next 100 years include Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka.
However, it's not just the big cities in South Asia that will feel the brunt of the climate change. The rural folks in India are already seeing rising crop failures, increasing poverty and over 200,000 farmer suicides in the last ten years.
Here is how Ramachandra Guha talks about India's impending ecological disaster in his book "How Much Should A Person Consume?":
"Gandhi's arguments have been revived and elaborated by the present generation of Indian environmentalists. As explained in Chapter Two, India is in many ways an ecological disaster zone, marked by high rates of deforestation, species loss, land degradation, and air and water pollution. The consequences of this abuse of nature have been chiefly borne by the poor in the countryside-peasants, tribals, fisherfolk, and pastoralists who have seen their resources snatched away or depleted by powerful economic interests. For, over the last few decades, the men who rule India have attempted precisely to "make India like England and America." Without access to resources and markets enjoyed by those two nations when they began to industrialize, India has perforce had to rely on exploiting its own people and environment."
As Indians and Pakistanis aspire to higher standards of living enjoyed by the developed world, they will have to find ways to do so without destroying what sustains them. Instead of simply copying how the West industrialized in the 19th and the 20th centuries, the South Asians will have to do it in the 21st century in a sustainable manner by focusing on the development and use of renewable resources.
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