Population Growth Contribution to Increased Greenhouse Gases Emission in India

Analysis of the Effects of Population Growth

A major environmental problem facing today’s world is global warming, caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Notably, population growth is a significant contributor to the increasing emission of greenhouse gases. The current paper defines greenhouse gases, elucidates how they cause problems to developing countries, identifies their causes and recommends solutions to the said problem. Specifically, the paper will consider how population growth has contributed to the increased emission of greenhouse gases in India. Over the past five decades, India’s population has grown from 555.2 million to over 1.3 billion people (Population, total – India | Data). The leading causes of greenhouse gases in India are coal power plants and rice paddies, which emit carbon dioxide and methane, respectively. India should invest in low carbon energy sources and promote a shift from flooding as a rice-growing technique to direct seeding.

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Greenhouse Gases Emission in India

Greenhouse gases refer to any gaseous compounds capable of absorbing infrared radiation. They include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, surface-level ozone, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. According to Al‐Ghussain, greenhouse gases absorb heat energy emitted from the Earth’s surface and reradiate back to the Earth’s surface (16). By trapping heat from the sun, these gases have kept the Earth habitable for humans and other numerous species through warming its temperature to ensure the survival of living organisms, a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect (17). However, due to their increased emission into the atmosphere related to human causes, greenhouse gases are now out of balance and threaten the survival of living things on Earth owing to global warming.

Global warming refers to the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the atmosphere, mainly attributed to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, global warming occurs when human activities change the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (Al‐Ghussain, 19). As per Al‐Ghussain, these gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb solar and sunlight radiation bouncing off the Earth’s surface. Under normal conditions, this radiation would escape into space, but the increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap the heat, causing Earth to become hotter (20-21). Greenhouse gases are, therefore, one of the leading causes of global warming. Thus, if the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere continues increasing, then the Earth faces a considerable threat related to the adverse effects of global warming.

How Emissions Cause Problems for the Developing World

Since the beginning of the global industrial revolution in the late 18th century, greenhouse gases emission due to human activities has increased increasingly. The world’s countries emit different amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Countries releasing the most greenhouse gases into the atmosphere include China, the US, India, Russia, and Japan, respectively (Ge & Friedrich, 1). The emissions pose economic, security, and political challenges, especially to developing countries such as India.

Farming is one of India’s main economic activities, with the country being one of the largest world rice exporters. Increased release of greenhouse gases has seen India’s face significant climate changes. India’s temperature, which usually is conducive for rice farming, has become too hot for the crop to yield optimally. Experts forecast that climate change will continue to reduce the overall annual rice yield by 3-5% under medium emission and up to 10% under high emission scenario (Palanisami, 2). Thus, the increased release of greenhouse gases hurts India’s economy.

Regarding security challenges, contemporary research works have established that global warming is the ultimate threat multiplier. India has not effectively absorbed or managed the shocks of changing climate associated with the release of high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a result, it faces an increasing threat to livelihood security by negatively affecting resource availability. The challenge mainly stems from volatile food provisions and prices, increased local resource competition, and unintended adverse effects of climate change policies (Shurpali, Agarwal, & Srivastava, 13). The identified challenges facilitate livelihood insecurity.

Lastly, high levels of greenhouse gas emission pose political challenges for the formulation of policies to address the problem. In the cause of formulates and implements laws and regulations to curb the increasing level of greenhouse gases, the Indian government must ensure that these policies do not hurt economic growth. The leading emitter of greenhouse gases in India is coal-fired plants, whereby coal is the primary source of energy in this country (Shurpali, Agarwal, & Srivastava, 17). Thus, the Indian government is in a dilemma since whereas coal is the least expensive source of energy, it is also the leading cause of its environmental pollution predicaments.

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Causes of Greenhouse Gases and Solutions to the Problems Greenhouse Gases Cause in India

There exist many causes of greenhouse gases, and all have varying degrees of impact on global warming. The two leading causes of greenhouse gases in India are coal power plants and rice paddies (The Carbon Brief Profile: India). In India, coal-fired power plants emit tons of carbon dioxide, rendering them the leading greenhouse gas emitters. India is known for its large rice paddle firms, with rice being its main cash crop. Rice paddies emit methane resulting from anoxic soil; flooded soil trap large quantities of methane, which later escapes into the atmosphere during tillage, weeding, harrowing, and transplanting (The Carbon Brief Profile: India.) Thus, carbon dioxide and methane are the most released greenhouse gases in India.

            India can utilize various measures to curb the emission of carbon dioxide and methane. Firstly, the Indian government should invest in sustainable low carbon power sources, including nuclear, wind, hydro, and solar power (Sivaram & Norris, 154-155). This will reduce its reliance on coal as its primary source of energy; hence, reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Secondly, the Indian government needs to promote a shift in the rice-growing technique from the conventional flooding approach to direct seeding. Research has shown that direct seeding is characterized by a shorter flooding period (about a month), which ensures that there is oxygen in the soil (Li et al., 126-127). The approach will help India minimize the emission of methane into the atmosphere.

              It is also worth noting that there exists a strong correlation between population control and greenhouse gas emissions. Multiple research works have confirmed that human activities are partially responsible for the increased release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as nations strive to increase their productivity to meet the growing demand (Alam, 466). Thus, controlling population growth can help governments curb greenhouse gases emission.

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The increasing release of greenhouse gases due to human activities pose a considerable threat to developing countries. Specifically, India faces economic, security, and political challenges, stemming from its high carbon dioxide and methane emission levels. The trend is related to its population, which has rapidly grown over the past five decades. The leading causes of the two greenhouse gases are coal-powered plants and rice paddies. The Indian government can invest in low carbon power sources, including hydro, wind, nuclear, and solar power to reduce carbon dioxide emission levels. The government should also promote a shift from flooding to direct seeding in rice farming to minimize methane emission. Most importantly, it should emphasize population growth control since it’s the leading cause of the increasing release of greenhouses into the atmosphere.

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