These are notes from "Module 2: Population and Sustainability" of APU's Online Course - Sustainability in the Indian Context
The traditional economic view has always been that population growth over a certain rate is a problem. Our current understanding is more nuanced.
Total population has been quite low for most of human history. Its only around the mid 20th century that population starts growing rapidly. In India's case: 350 million in 1950 to 1.3 billion in 2020.
Our collective ecological impact is a product of the population and per capita consumption. So the more the population, the more is the ecological impact. However, if we overfocus on population, we run the risk of having incomplete response to problems of Finitude and Fragility, possibly making Fairness worse.
With high population growth, finite resources like like access to Infrastructure, food, etc tends to become more exclusive and unfair. Governments should increase investment on making sure that this is not the case. Usually, government's response tends to:
By 2050, India's population is estimated to reach 1.6 billion. World's population is estimated to reach 9 billion. Birth rates are slowing down across the world, including India. However, people are living longer lives so the population remains fast growing.
Environmental impact is determined by both population growth and per capita resource consumption.
The per capita resource consumption increases along with increasing affluence. Richer you are the more unsustainable you be.
For example, let us take the example of a Public Good - traffic:
The main reasons for the overall increase in consumption are:
Previous module: Framing Sustainability with the 3Fs
Next module: Food and Sustainability in India