World Population Day: from Biomes to Anthromes!

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The lock down across the world to contain the spread of Corona virus has its own share of pros and cons. One of the challenges that has got the world leaders worrying is a research done by United Nations Population Fund that conclusively proves that more than six months of lock down can result in 7 million unintended pregnancies. This finding will have repercussions for carrying capacity of Earth apart from having a bearing on realizing 2030 Sustainable development goals.

Humans, as species, have already overtaken the planet, evident, by the undesirable alterations that have been caused in climate, environment and natural fabric of ecosystems. The impact has been so extensive that this geological epoch itself has been termed as Anthropocene! Ecologist Erle Ellis has already divided the Earth into “anthromes” instead of classical “biomes”. Human population has crossed the mark of 7.8 billion. If this trend continues, soon earth’s carrying capacity will get over, throwing the world into chaos.

Natural ecosystems, that provides for sustaining populations, are already bearing the brunt of ever-increasing population. Conversion, over-exploitation, introduction of chemicals and other pollutants, solid waste disposal etc. were threats to ecosystems that, till two decades ago, were confined to walls of conservation agencies. However, our failure to address the growing environmental concerns along with a burgeoning population, has brought it to our doorstep, with every individual playing a witness to consequences that ecosystems and species face due to continuous human misdeed.

Anthropogenic climate change is already bringing alterations in crop cycles, life cycles of pests and vectors, patterns of precipitation, migration, sea level rise, arctic thawing and increasing natural disasters. Global warming accompanied by continuous degradation of natural systems, will cause severe shortages of food and water, with millions struggling to survive.

A growing population means increasing demand on already over-exploited natural resources. The way out has to be a two-way process. With world economies putting in measures to control population, well directed efforts towards conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems must be made to salvage them from further degradation.

A school of thought that suggests that humans and ecosystems cannot be viewed in isolation, cannot be more relevant, than present times. Human species are an integral part of an ecosystem. It is critically urgent that principles of sustainable development and wise-use are integrated across thematic areas of developmental planning and implementation to address needs of population as well as natural ecosystems.

As the world celebrates Population day, or aptly “Human Population” day, it is imperative that earth is viewed as a living system with limited resources and many species to sustain, including humans. Conservation of natural ecosystems are indispensable for sustaining a growing population. The Planet is only one where life exists. A harmonized way of living, in tandem with sustainable development and wise use of resources along with checking the rate of current growth of population, is the only way out for saving only known supporter of life in entire Universe. The ball is in our court, and we must act with urgency!

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