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The rapid growth of the world's population over the past one hundred years results from a difference between the rate of birth and the rate of death. The human popula-tion will increase by 1 billion people in the next decade. This is like adding the whole population of China to the world's population. The growth in human population around the world affects all people through its impact on the economy and environ-ment. The current rate of population growth is now a significant burden to human well-being. Understanding the factors which affect population growth patterns can help us plan for the future.

In the past, infant and childhood deaths and short life spans used to limit popula-tion growth. In today's world, thanks to improved nutrition, sanitation, and medical care, more babies survive their first few years of life. The combination of a continu-ing high birth rate and a low death rate is creating a rapid population increase in many countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa and people generally lived longer. Overpopulation is defined as the condition of having more people than can live on the earth in comfort, happiness and health and still leave the world a fit place for future generations.

What some people now believe that the greatest threat to the future comes from overpopulation. It took the entire history of humankind for the population to reach 1 billion around 1810. Just 120 years later, this doubled to 2 billion people (1930); then 4 billion in 1975 (45 years). The number of people in the world has risen from 4.4 billion people in 1980 to 5.8 billion today. And it is estimated that the population could double again to nearly 11 billion in less than 40 years.

This means that more people are now being added each day than at any other time in human history. Looking ahead, world population is projected to exceed 6 billion before the year 2000. And according to a report by the United Nation Population fund, total popu-lation is likely to reach 10 billion by 2025 and grow to 14 billion by the end of the next century unless birth control use increases dramatically around the world within the next two decades.

Both death rates and birth rates have fallen, but death rates have fallen faster than birth rates. There are about 3 births for each death with 1.6 births for each death in more developed countries (MDCs) and 3.3 births for each death in less de-veloped countries (LDCs). The world's population continues to grow by 1 billion people every dozen years.

On one hand, some politicians call for countries, especially MDCs to increase their population size to maintain their economic growth and military security. On the other hand, critics denote that one out of five people living here today is not properly supported and believe that the world is already limited in resources.

These critics maintain that slowing world population growth is one of the most ur-gent issues Those who believe that the world is overpopulated argue that if we don't sharply lower birth rates, we are raising death rates by default.

Until recently, birth rates and death rates were about the same, keeping the population stable. People had many children, but a large number of them died before age five. During the Industrial Revolution, a period of history in Europe and North America where there were great advances in science and technology, the success in reducing death rates was attributable to several factors: (1) in-creases in food production and distribution, (2) improvement in public health (water and sanitation), and (3) medical technology (vaccines and antibiotics), along with gains in education and standards of living within many developing nations. Without these attributes present in many children's lives, they could not have survived common diseases like measles or the flu. People were able to fight and cure deadly germs that once killed them. In addition, because of the technology, people could produce more and different kinds of food. Gradually, over a period of time, these discoveries and inventions spread throughout the world, lowering death rates and improving the quality of life for most people.

The remarkable facts about the last 150 years has been the ability of farmers to increase food production geometrically in some places. Agricultural practices have improved in the United States in the last two centuries. Much of the world experienced agricultural success, especially in the last 50 years. Between 1950 and 1984, for example, the amount of grain harvested worldwide increased from 631 million tons to 1.65 billion tons. This represents a gain of 2.6 times at a time when the world population increased by only 1.9 times.

In more recent years, the technology has produced a broader variety of techniques: new kinds of seed, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and more sophisticated machinery. The use of technology has made possible the rapid expansion of agriculture in the United States and other MDCs and LDCs. The use of pesticides in LDCs, for example was expected to increase between 400 to 600% in the last 25 years of the twentieth century.

During the past 10 years, the world's food production has increased by 24 per cent, outpacing the rate of population growth. However, this increase was not evenly distributed throughout the world. For example, in Africa, food production decreased, while population increased. And world cereal production fell in 1993, according to the FAO, which predicted a food shortage in 20 countries during 1994. However, most experts agree that there is no shortage of food, and that equitable distribution should be sufficient to meet all needs for the future. Lack of money to buy food is the problem of malnourishment. Poverty, in effect translates the world adequacy into national and local shortages. Within households, men and boys have priority for whatever food is available, while women and children, especially girl children are the first to suffer malnu-trition. Few resources are available to women, even though they are often responsible the for food supply.

People have concerns about surviving daily living, such as meeting basic needs: food, water and housing. First, access to safe drinking water was related to the incidence of epidemic diseases such as cholera and child survival. Less than 50% of the population had access to safe drinking water before 1990. By 1990, access to safe drinking water had increased by 75 per cent. But between 1990 and 2000 the numbers of people without access to safe water are projected to increase. An increasing number of countries both developed and developing are approaching the limits of sustainable water use based on their own renewable resources.

Second, the pressure to provide adequate housing increases as the population grows. More than half of the developing world's population will be living in urban areas by the end of the century. This growth outstrips the capacity to provide housing and services for others. In some countries, finding a place to live is hard, especially for women. Some women and children are forced to live in the poorest community where they are open to exploitation and abuse.

The priorities for getting rid of poverty, improving food supply, ending malnutrition, and providing adequate housing coincide at all points with those required for balanced population growth.

The biggest population story of the last hundred years has been the conquest of disease. Scientists have learned a great deal about the ways to prevent and cure many types of disease. Thus, millions of people who would have died of disease a century ago are more likely to live to old age. The most effective tools in the con-quest of disease have been improved knowledge about nutrition, vaccinations, bet-ter public health practices and the development of new medicines.

In the late 80s, a baby born in Iceland was 32 times more likely to live to the age of one year as a baby born in Afghanistan.18 The major reason for this large difference in survival rate is nutrition. When young children get enough of the right kinds of food, they are likely to live to be adults. In many nations the people know about proper nutrition for young children and adults. Unfortunately, in many LCDs the people lack the money and skills that would allow them to use the knowledge about nutrition they already have. As a result, infant death rates and therefore, overall death rates, remain high in many LDCs.

The second most important factor is vaccinations. As far back as 1800, scien-tists knew how to use vaccines to protect people from infectious disease. Use of that knowledge has reduced the rate of diseases like influenza, smallpox, polio and rubella in MDCs. Again, lack of resources has prevented many LDCs from mak-ing similar use of vaccinations to reduce the rate of infectious disease and death rates in their countries. Moreover, vaccines are still not available for some diseases malaria is the most obvious example and the greatest concern in LDCs.

Third, better public health practices- the germ theory of disease, discovered by Louis Pasteur in the 1870s clearly demonstrated that a person's health was also a community problem. Sewage dumped into a public water supply could cause dis-ease throughout the community. With this understanding, the science of public health was born. Today, public health measures like waste treatment, water purifi-cation, vaccination, and nutritional education are well developed in MDCs. How-ever, public health measures are still absent in many LDCs. As a result, disease continues to spread and cause high death rates.

And finally, with the advent of new medicines, disease was less of a problem in MDCs because medical science has invented a whole range of new medicines with which to treat everything from infections to pneumonia. In many LDCs, new drugs and medicines are simply not available.

As stated earlier, death rates in MDCs have fallen largely because of improved health and medical knowledge and because of better health and medical practices based on that knowledge. Death rates in many LDCs remain high because the money, personnel and facilities needed to put that knowledge into practice are not available.

Progress in medical science has, therefore, had a great effect on the population of most nations of the world. Nearly everywhere death rates have fallen. At the same time, birth rates, at least in the LDCs, have remained high. This combination of high birth rates and low death rates has led to the population explosion in many countries throughout the world.

The end of the population explosion worldwide will be determined by how much countries invest in family planning efforts to lower fertility and slow down population growth.

Different populations grow at different rates around the world. This depends on how many children families have and the number of years someone is expected to live. The population of many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are growing the fastest, especially where large families are still important. These poorer, less developed countries (LDCs) tend to have shorter lives and higher infant death rates. When couples know some of their children may die, they choose to have more. However, many couples wish to limit family size, but lack the information and means to make these choices.


Module 2: Social problems. Практическое занятие 21-22, лабораторное занятие 11.

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