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    Population, resources and the environment. Report of the Secretary-General.

    United Nations. Secretary-General

    In: The population debate: dimensions and perspectives. Papers of the World Population Conference, Bucharest, 1974. Volume I. New York, New York, United Nations, 1975. 77-123. (Population Studies, No. 57; ST/ESA/SER.A/57)

    The Secretary-General's commentary on the state of population growth, resources, and the environment examines the most important relationship. Conflicts in resource use and distribution and essential resources are identified: potential water and land resources for agriculture, availability of potential arable land, new technology, carrying capacity, capital needs, the imbalance between population and arable land, energy needs, agricultural modernization, nonfuel mineral resources, and energy resources. The relationship between rapid population growth and the environment may be one where man is indeed capable of reducing the environmental consequences to tolerable level through reallocation of resources. There a 3 sets of environmental problems: 1) those related to poverty and inadequate social and economic development; 2) those arising from the development process itself; and 3) those which could have a major impact on climate or environmental conditions and are not well understood. The environmental problems of developed countries pertain to high levels of energy use and the problems of affluence. In poor countries, environmental problems are caused by rapid population growth and urbanization, and poverty. Environmental destruction from mining and transportation are discussed along with the need for conversion to alternative forms of energy and reduction of polluting energy use. Developing countries' problems focus on water supply and waste disposal, the benefits of environmental improvement, and the global changes possible in climate, carbon dioxide emissions, and particulate matter in the atmosphere. "Hot spots" from fossil fuel combustion and nuclear fission are occurring; accurate data, improved analytical models, and international cooperation in monitoring and analysis is essential. Settlement patterns and the costs plus the internal organization of large urban areas are some of the problems examined. Rural development, rural-urban migration, and population redistribution are other issues of concern. Urban development and urban growth strategies reflect the potential need to curb urban migration and a new settlement system. Technology's impact on population, research gaps, and policy implications are revealed. Definitions of societal objectives are necessary before deciding what technology is needed.
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