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Social Impact of Population Growth


Over the past centuries, the number of people inhabiting the planet has rapidly increased. Growing population consumes more energy, food, and water, thus exhausting the environment. The loss of resources emerges as a severe threat on the social, economic, and political levels due to the influence of climate change. Consequently, the two central global problems that include increasing population rates and global warming are concerned to be the most acute ones for the contemporary world community. Many researchers study the impact of global warming and uncontrolled population growth in the developing countries on the resources accessibility and, therefore, on the quality of life (De Silva & Tenreyro, 2017; Urry, 2015).

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Rapid population growth in the world combined with the emerging global warming effects imposes threats to the environment reducing the quantity of natural resources and their accessibility. The case study concentrates on South Africa as an example to show the impact of population rate growth and climate change on social and economic spheres in developing countries.

What Are Greenhouse Gases? How Do They Contribute to Global Warming?

Research of the climate change problem concerns various effects human activities cause to the planet. It mainly involves some irreversible atmospheric transformations generated by pollution. Different gas emissions stimulate air pollution damaging the atmosphere of Earth. Such gasses are called greenhouse gases because their emissions stimulate the emergence of the greenhouse effect. They include carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrous oxide, and other combinations that produce radiant energy.

The increased amount of such gasses emerged upon industrial advancement of the last centuries (Urry, 2015). These gases are the products of production, transportation, processing and consumption of fossil fuels, heavy industry, deforestation, and other human activities.

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere exceeds the absorbing possibilities of Earth. Indeed, carbon dioxide is not completely absorbed into the oceans and the seas causing the increasing temperature in the atmosphere which is similar to the thermal conditions in a greenhouse (Urry, 2015). Thus, the presence of harmful gasses in the air that causes the greenhouse effect is the result of adverse anti-climate human activities in the field of industry. These changes lead to the increase of the temperature on the Earth and provoke the development of a phenomenon called ‘global warming.’

Global warming as the result of greenhouse gasses emission is one of the main concerns of the worldwide community. The more industries operate around the globe, the more emission they cause. This fact means that “the earth was being irreversibly changed by unprecedented human activities” (Urry, 2015, p. 45). Consequently, this progression is even amplified when viewed on the background of population growth. If the number of people increases, the number of cases causing harm to nature will grow, thus damaging the resources that will not be enough for the humanity.

What Kinds of Economic, Security, Political, and Other Challenges Do These Emissions Pose to the People of the Developing World, and Who Are the Biggest Offenders?

The phenomenon of global warming affects all the countries of the world. The biggest offenders contributing the most amounts of emissions are the countries with the economies concentrated around heavy industries. However, since greenhouse gas emissions significantly change the climate and, therefore, resources of the planet, developing countries face more difficulties. South Africa as one of the developing countries listed by the United Nations Organization faces global warming threats, as well as the rest of the world (“Country classification,” 2014). Climate change has an inevitable damaging impact on natural resources.

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The economies of the developing countries are crucially dependent on the industries and agriculture that utilize the resources as their main source. Thus, the economy of South Africa greatly depends on the number of available fossils. According to Conway et al. (2015), “physical and socioeconomic exposure is high in many areas and in crucial economic sectors” (p. 837). The decreasing tendency in resource accessibility imposes consequent political challenges due to the need to control the use of the resources.

Similar concerns are relevant for water and food resources in developing countries. Africa faces severe challenges in this respect, and global warming only worsens the situation. The economy of South Africa develops on the basis of agriculture, which will fall into a decline under the influence of climate change (Hall, Dawson, Macdiarmid, Matthews, and Smith, 2017). Therefore, the country’s well-being is at stake when it comes to global warming. The analysis of the world-wide tendencies allows concluding that the availability of water will adversely affect agriculture causing problems with food in southern Africa and other developing countries (Conway et al., 2015).

The analysis of the current state of the primary resources’ availability in the African countries is conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Hall et al., 2017). The results show that “one in four people in Africa lack adequate food to sustain an active and healthy” (Hall et al., 2017, p. 125). Thus, global warming adversely influences economic, social, and political spheres of developing countries. In a long-term perspective, such changes will result in constant competition for resources and energy and will cause dangerous instability in the world.

What Are the Ways to Control the Growth of Population on a Global Level?

The discussion of global warming shows how human activities damages the planet causing harms to people themselves. It is evident that the growth of population on Earth only amplifies the hazardous outcomes and leads to the lack of resources. The increasing population and the threats it might present to the availability of resources have been of great concern for scientists and analysts for the last century (De Silva & Tenreyro, 2017). Since it is impossible to enlarge the resources reserves, it is necessary to regulate the population growth on a global level.

Many population-control programs were implemented on an international level in the twentieth century. It was discovered that “high fertility rates” that “led to rapid population growth rates” were observed in the developing countries with weak economies and insufficient resources (De Silva & Tenreyro, 2017, p. 205). It seems relevant to proceed with the earlier introduced policies targeting the reduction of birth rates in the developing countries including South Africa.

The primary way of population growth control might be found in different informational policies aimed at raising awareness about the problem. International organizations including the United Nations should take charge in the implementation of the programs based on the most effective approaches.

During the second half of the twentieth century, the governments of many countries developed family planning programs directed at the resolution of the issue. Such organization as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Population Council presented their guidelines. The Presidential Committee made one of the suggestions to eliminate the rising problem of birth rate growth in the developing countries in 1959 (De Silva & Tenreyro, 2017).

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It was proposed to the government to help the developing countries involved in “economic aid programs” in planning “to deal with the problem of rapid population growth” (De Silva & Tenreyro, 2017, p. 210). Thus, the developed countries are potent to assist other states to reach the goals concerning population control.

One of the possible approaches to implement such control is the informational policy. When using the achievements of the earlier presented family planning programs, it is possible to raise awareness about the importance of contraception (De Silva & Tenreyro, 2017). Also, the supply of appropriate birth control products to the target countries could contribute to the effective control of the population growth on the global level. However, only supply will not be enough to ensure the willingness of their usage. It is vital to inform and teach people about the outcomes of the increasing population rates.


In summary, the growing population rate and the emerging threats of global warming impose severe hazards to the future of humanity. The estimates of the recent global tendencies show that developing countries encounter many challenges in economic, social, and political spheres because of climate change. For example, the economy of South Africa dramatically depends on agriculture and heavy industry. These spheres are concentrated around the available fossils and other natural resources the amount and accessibility of which is endangered by global warming and the growth of population.

The reserves of water and energy-producing minerals exhaust presenting a threat for the economies of the developing countries. It is essential for the global community and responsible international organizations to implement special family planning programs and informational policies to reduce growing birth rates and ensure stability for humanity in the future.


Conway, D., Van Gardener, E. A., Deryng, D., Dorling, S., Krueger, T., Landman, W., … Dalin, C. (2015). Climate and southern Africa’s water-energy-food nexus. Nature Climate Change, 5, 837-846.

Country classification. (2014). World economic situation and prospects. 

De Silva, T., & Tenreyro, S. (2017). Population control policies and fertility convergence. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(4), 205-228.

Hall, C., Dawson, T.P., Macdiarmid, J.I., Matthews, R.B., & Smith, P. (2017). The impact of population growth and climate change on food security in Africa: Looking ahead to 2050. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 15(2), 124-135.

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Urry, J. (2015). Climate change and society. In J. Michie & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Why the social sciences matter (pp. 45-60). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

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