World Population Growth

Our Earth has changed more dramatically in the 20th Century then in any other time period previous. During this time the health of our planet has also been both harmed and improved in dramatic ways. Two examples are that in this century, we have produced more air pollution then ever before, but our nature conservation efforts are working. Based on that type of logic, it is usually very easy for a scientist to tell if a particular change in our environment during the 20th Century, was good or bad for our planet. That is where population growth comes in and breaks this idea. Is population growth good or bad for our world? This is a question which scientists around the world have been debateing about for decades. The purpose of this essay will address that question. It will also talk about the future growth rate of our world's population, what if any relationship can be drawn from over population and the GNP and literacy levels in a country, what types of population control measures the four largest countries use, and finally determine if there are any population problems and find solutions for them. Despite extensive population control measures, the country with the largest population is China. In fact China contains almost one-fourth of the world's people at around 1.2 billion. During the 1950's the population grew at a rate of 2% per year. The rate of growth slowed to 1.3% by 1990, in part due to population control measures. China's population control measures are based around a creul policy allowing parents only one child. This policy has led to higher levels of abortion, sterilizations, and inficide than in any other country in the world. The dramatic declines in China's population growth rate have however taken place well before the one child policy went into effect in 1979. This further confuses experts who study population and try to determine why population rates flucuate. Some of these experts suggest that aside from the one child policy China's growth rate might have decreased from 2.0 to 1.3 percent because of major improvements in infant mortality rates. Thus parents had more confidence that their children would live to maturity. Also, as China has moved to become a more industrialized country families have chosen to reduce family size. For example in our country 200 years ago families were large because the more kids a family had the more successful the farm would be. Those are a few reasons the population rate in China might be lower than in years previous and continue to slow down. One interesting thing about population growth is the corilation between a high population growth rate and poverty. The author of this essay does not believe that population growth causes poverty, but instead that poverty is what makes population growth a problem. This issue will be discussed later, so for now lets look at the GNP per capita in China. That figure is on the low end compared with other nations at, $510 per working person. However, this trend will not last, for China has the fastest growing economy and it is because of there enormous population that they will be a major economic superpower in the 21st Century. Their literacy rate is about average at 78% however, that will also increase as China becomes more industrialized. But what of China's ability to produce food for their current population and a larger one to come? Well, China is the world's leading rice producer, their production of food grains has increased by more than 25% due to new technologies and their fishing catch is very successful. India has a population of over 940 million, second only to China. Unlike China however, India does not have birth restrictions on its people. However, the President of India at one point called for female government employees who have had more than three children to be sterilized. There was such public disapproval to this policy that it was soon cancelled. Other then that, India does allow and incourage family planning and abortions. The population control in India is like what we have in America, yet it goes a little bit farther. Some would see this as a lack of population control on India's part. It is once again however that we find that this so called lack of population control is not the main reason as to the high population growth rate of 1.9%. Instead the reason can be found in the fact that due to India's poverty and the fact that farming is a way of life there. In fact 60% of India's population is directly involved in farming which encourages large families, because the more children you have to work the more sucessful the farm is. It is painfully evident however, that the population growth rate will be reduced not through government policies but India's economy. India is a good example of how a poverty can make the population growth rate greater. However, it is also important to notice that the large numbers of population aren't helping out the economy much. Usually it is not the population but the government or lack of natural resources that can be blamed for the poverish conditions of that countries people. This country might be one of the few exceptions in which a large population causes poverty. To start with the GNP per capita in India is a pathetic $350 one of the lowest outside of the countries of Africa. Because of India's high population six million Indians enter the job market each year leading to high rates of unemployment. The literacy rate in India is also very low at 52%, due to the inabilty of the country to become economically stable, which in this case is partly because of the high population growth rate. The agricultural production of India is fully capable of feeding their population and have a surplus left over. In other words they don't need to import any food, however, India's population rate is rising faster their current production of food. India's well being is somewhat uncertain, but now lets take a look at a country that has a very bright future.The United States is the third largest country in population. However unlike India and China the amount of people that live in the U.S. does not even approach 1 billion. Instead it is much lower at about 260 million people. America is very different in the population issue from India and China because it is an industrial nation. The birth rates are much lower at about 12 for every 1,000 people compared with around 55 for every 1,000 people. As previously explained this difference in birth rates is mainly due to the fact that in developed countries the need for children is less and parents know that health care will be sufient to insure there kids live out their lives. However low he birth rate the population in America still increases at a fairly high growth rate every year at .99%. That is much lower than in China and India but it is still too high based on births right? The answer to that question is yes, the United States has a higher growth rate than you might expect because we have some of the highest rates of immigration to our country then in any other country. For example from 1980 to 1990 the number of people in the United States of Asian decent increased by 107%, and Hispanic 53%. Immigrants are accounting for much of the United States population growth. This is a much different type of population growth than what China and India have had to deal with. To combat too much population growth at one particular time America has set up laws to limit the number of legal immigrants that can come and live in the United States per year. Still however America allows abortion and encourages family planning.

Although America does not have nearly as high of a population as China and India, it still does have a lot of people. America defeats the point made by many scientists that a high population leads to poverty. In fact the GNP per captia in America is over $18,000 which is higher than any other country. Furthermore America enjoys a high literacy rate of 99% mainly because of their ability to provide good education. The last thing that America benefits from is an excellent ability to abundantly feed her people. In fact today millions of acres of farmland in America are deliberately kept out of food production. So we see that America is in no danger of an over population crisis however Indonesia's future might not be so bright.Indonesia is the fourth largest country in population at around 210 million. Indonesia has a high growth rate of about 2.1 % a year. This high growth rate is in part due to immigration but mainly it is unknown, however some reasons could be because once again it is a developing country and parents want many kids to take care of them financally. The Indonesian government has not done much to slow down the countries high growth rate. Abortions and family planning are encouraged however. Now lets take a look at the economic conditions in Indonesia and see what if any effect they have on the population rate.Indonesia is a developing country but they have a hopeful future. For now however, the GNP is about $450 which is very low. The literacy rate is about average at about 75%. The worst part for Indonesia however is their inabilty to feed themselfes. The government has tried for many years to improve crop production and it has worked, yet food still must be imported to meet Indonesia's growing needs. The main crops Indonesian farmers produce are coffee, rice, wheat and corn. If farming in Indonesia can start making up for the difference and start producing more food, their countries future would look a whole lot brighter.Well, now that we have taken a good look at the four largest countries in population, lets take a more in depth look at the supposed problems population causes. One auther put it very simply by saying, that population is the cause of pollution, poverty, resource depletion, and famine. First lets begin with pollution. The more people that live on Earth it would seem the more pollution we would create. That may be true for now, but as our technologies get better the extra amount of people that we have now will not produce a much greater amount of pollution.Second is the claim by many scientists that population creates poverty. This assusption is in most cases incorrect for a couple of reasons. First these countries are not poor because of their population, instead they are poor mainly because government policies prevent people from enaging in productive activities. Second how do these people explain the fact that some of the richest countries in the world have high population densities and few natural resources. These include Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore.Thirdly lets look at the claim that population growth causes resource depletion. "Concern about the impact of rapid population growth on resource exhaustion has often been exaggerated," this from the prestigous National Research Council and the National Acadamy of Sciences. Finally there is a claim by many that rapid population growth causes famine. That is not the case because of many resons. For one thing technologies that have greatly improved the production of crops are likely to continue to be created. Allowing forfood production to stay ahead of population growth. In fact the Food and Agriculutre Organization of the United States, has said that the global capacity to grow food will not be a major obsticle in providing enough food for the world's population. Over the course of the 20th Century much change has occurred in our way of life. As a result our Earth has changed along with us. One huge example of the change that has taken place in the 20th Century is the population boom. Now some people are worried that over population brings a threat of doom for our Earth. This essay has discussed a little bit about why that is not true, the future growth rate of our world's population, what if any relationship can be drawn from over population and the GNP and literacy levels in a country, what types of population control measures the four largest countries use, and finally it mentioned if there are any population problems and found solutions for them. Before we rush to any conculsions about what might happen in the future it is important to calm down and review the facts which should set anyone at ease.

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