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How does overpopulation affect the environment?

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Quick Answer

Overpopulation affects the environment by putting pressure on resources such as water, food and energy. Pollution, soil degradation, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are further effects of overpopulation on the environment.

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Full Answer

Freshwater availability is a problem in most developing nations, and the per capita availability of freshwater has decreased by one-third over the past 50 years. Although the supply of freshwater is not infinite, the human population is increasing by 1 billion people every 12 years.

Food production and distribution is also problematic when more arable land is needed for growing food. The amount of arable land on Earth is limited, leading farmers to begin cultivating dry hillsides. Erosion and loss of nutrients, which both contribute to soil degradation, are the result. As farmers begin to use more pesticides and chemical fertilizers to try to increase yields, those chemicals can create water pollution.

Deforestation is also the result of the need to find more arable land. The use of wood for fuel and the expansion of residential areas into forested areas lead to forest destruction and loss of biodiversity when the natural habitats of many wildlife species are destroyed. Overpopulation leads to increased need for fuel sources, including fossil fuels, which contribute to the pollution of the environment.

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