|Population and the Environment (FAO)|
Caring for our environment: a necessity for now and the future
Activity involving group preparation of posters and/or a drama on environmental and population-related concepts.
Note: Posters could also he sent, via the youth coordinators, to the central population organization, to be redistributed to other youth groups or reproduced at a national level.
· The group leader asks the participants to identify some natural resources which are under pressure locally due to increases in population (i.e., land, water, forests, etc.).
· The group discusses slogans or sayings which point out the need to conserve and manage these resources (some examples are provided on the following pages).
· The participants produce a series of posters illustrating their slogans. Posters could be produced one at a time to further stimulate group participation. Group members can work in teams.
· The posters are exhibited in the community by the participants and are then either posted in public places or are taken home by the participants.
· The group may then like to organize a drama about the environment, how it is being damaged and what solutions can be applied by the community - for performance to the community.
FOR WHAT? / WHY?
So that group members will be able to:
· Reinforce their knowledge about the basic natural resources.
· Make rational decisions about the need to manage the environment and control pollution to meet the needs of present and future generations.
· Stimulate community awareness of environmental and population-related issues.
· A large sheet of paper for each group member.
· Some kind of drawing material for each group member (pencils, pens, paints, charcoal, etc.).
· Slogans or sayings related to environmental issues (some ideas are offered on pages 34 and 35).
· Enthusiasm and imagination in presentation of the drama.
Some background information for the group leader
What are some of the natural resources that are being damaged by rapid population growth?
Agriculturally productive land. As the number of people grows, the amount of land needed to feed them also increases. In many countries, there just isn't enough good land. In others, there is still land but it is of en far away from where most people now live. Since, as we said before, most people are no longer nomads, they prefer not to move long distances from their homes and families.
As a result, the land that is already being farmed gets used more and more intensively. This can lead to the depletion of the soil to the point that it never recovers. What used to be productive agricultural land becomes barren wasteland, or even desert.
Something else that happens is that land gets put to the wrong use. Across Africa, land that is only suitable for the grazing of animals is being used for crop production. Without its grass cover, this fragile soil is quickly eroded - that is, swept away by wind and water. Once this happens, it becomes useless for agriculture or even for grazing.
Water. Without a steady supply of relatively clean water, almost no living thing can survive. Once it seemed that the supply of water was unlimited, but we now know that is not true. Therefore, the more people there are, the less water is available per person.
In places where people get their water from wells, this can mean less water per person and a need for increasingly deeper wells.
In places where people get their water from rivers or lakes, the effect of having so many people bathing and washing their clothes and using water for their crops can be to leave an inadequate water supply which may also be polluted and unhealthy.
Forests and fuelwood. Many people in the developing countries use fuelwood or charcoal to cook their food and heat their homes. With the rapid growth of human populations, the trees are being cut down faster than new ones are growing.
Women and young people, who generally have the main responsibility for providing fuelwood, are having to walk further and further each day to gather wood or having to pay more and more for the wood if they buy it.
This need for more and more fuelwood, combined with the cutting of trees to clear more land for crop production, is leading to the progressive destruction of the forests. Once the trees are gone, not only is there no more fuelwood, but the land quickly becomes eroded. Without the trees and other ground cover to hold it back, the rain washes huge quantities of soil down into the rivers and dams of the low areas, causing them to overflow and flood. This loss of soil further reduces the amount of food the land can produce, and causes huge losses of life and property.
The Air: Burning fuels of any kind, whether firewood or animal dung for cooking, petrol in cars or coal and oil in power stations and factories, produces pollution in the air. The effect of this pollution is easy to see in the big cities where the air smells bad and buildings are stained. When you look at a city from the distance, it is easy to see the dust and haze from the car exhausts, fires and factories. Even in the countryside though, as the population increases, the amount of fuel used for cooking increases, adding to the air pollution.
Governments around the world are now becoming very worried about the effects of all this air pollution. Some scientists say that people are making so much air pollution that the sun's heat is being trapped on the Earth, making the Earth hotter and changing the weather (they call this the greenhouse effect). One effect of this is that the sea level may rise, which would cause more floods of coastal towns and villages.
Reducing the use of fuelwood by using other forms of energy like the solar cooker in Activity No. 4 is one way to help reduce air pollution.
Some possible slogans or sayings for environmental or natural resource posters
It's a disgrace to waste water
Let's protect our natural resources, for the sake of tomorrow
Plant a tree today
Too many people = pressure on natural resources
The land, our hope for a better future
Water - Waste not, want not
Pollution is a dirty joke