In order to understand the population problem lets refer to the founding father of population studies T.R. Malthus. Malthus gave us three postulates
1. Growth of population is limited by means of subsistence
2. Population has a tendency to increase much faster than means of subsistence.
3. What had happened in the past is likely to happen again.
These seem to be very obvious conclusions but they were revolutionary thoughts in 1798. At a time when it was believed science will put an end to all miseries and vices like hunger, sex etc. it was believed that development of science would lead to an egalitarian society a statement predicting shortage of means of subsistence was indeed revolutionary. The second statement was made after study of agricultural growth and population growth in the USA .
The last statement is interesting one. If we consider that population grew at a rate of 1% since man first walked on this planet the current population would have been much higher, so there must have been some checks along the way. These checks controlled population by increasing the mortality rate and are called positive checks. The various positive checks in the past have come in form of epidemics, famine etc. and these are likely to happen again.
These postulates point that in order to grow man has to increase the means of subsistence and this is achieved by putting pressure on the natural resources. If we go by this theory then most damage to the environment is done by the fastest growing countries and incidently all of them belong to the category of underdeveloped nation. So, the responsibility for environmental conservation should also be shouldered by them, well most of the western countries believe and thats why they invited India to remind it how its increasing population is destroying the environment.
Seems reasonable enough, before drawing any conclusion lets see another theory. If we can quantify Affluence and Technology then the Impact of population could be represented by the equation :
E = PA/T
where E is Environmental Impact , P is population and T is Environment friendly technology.
(Paul Ehrlich use E=PAT , where T is technology. My modified formula has no experimental basis but it looks more correct in the age of environment friendly technology, besides it also tilts the balance towards the Developed countries). With this formula in mind lets see the following stats:
An American consumes as much energy as :
Even if we forget that America doesnt follow Kyoto protocol and the Environmental engineering has not had much effect yet Bangladesh would have to grow at a rate atleast 12 times more than that of America to have the same environmental impact.