The purpose of this blog entry is to explain to the readers the causes and effects the human population growth has on the environment.
The current number of humans existing on Earth is approximately 6.9 billion. Scientists predict that the population will reach 7 billion in 2011. The human population is accelerating at a very fast rate. It is growing exponentially and therefore the problem scientists face is determining when the Earth will reach its carrying capacity. According to the current human population graph, it has been predicted and calculated that even by 2025 the population of the Earth is going to continue growing at an amazing speed.
Causes of increased human population
There are several causes which contribute to the increase of the human population over the last century. Technological advances, better health systems and sanitation, increased food production are some of the reasons why there are so many people on Earth today. In general the better and modernized lifestyle allowed humans to spread rapidly.
Different theories regarding the Earth’s sustainability
Cornucopians vs. Cassandras
Cornucopians: Regarding the human population growth, the Cornucopians believe that the human population, because of its technological advances, will be able to overcome any hardship in the future. They also state that humans will never run out of resources, because the more humans there are on Earth the more they will able to utilize and acquire those very resources.
Cassandras: On the other hand, the Cassandras also known as the “Doomsayers”, predict that the Earth will not be able to sustain the human population growth for much longer. They state that the Earth can only support so many people and there are only so many resources available. They predict famine and source depletion, which cannot be replaced in the future.
In our opinion, current society has a very serious problem. The human population’s exponential growth is causing many short-term and long-term problems for both the future and the present generations. Our stance on this issue is a balance between the views of the Cornucopians and the Cassandras. We believe that in order to fix this problem we should work on reaching the Earth’s carrying capacity as soon as possible. However we also believe that if our technology is used accordingly and if the resources are distributed equally we will be able to overcome this looming problem. (2)
Paul Ehrlich ( born in 1932) is an American biologist and professor at Stanford University. He is also an entomologist who specializes in the study of butterflies. However he is more famous for releasing the controversial book “Population Bomb” in 1968. Ehrlich predicted that the rapid growth in human population will result in famine and a substantial increase in the global death rate. Part of his predictions came true, seeing as how even in today’s world the continent of Africa has suffered greatly from famine, malnourishment and an impressive mortality rate. Moreover, the population has been growing even faster than Ehrlich had predicted. However, some of his predictions did not come true. He predicted that countries such as India and Bangladesh will suffer from famine the most however over the past few years their harvest has doubled and even tripled. (1,2,3)
The IPAT Model
The IPAT equation describes the contribution of multiple factors to the human impact on the environment. Factors include :
Sometimes, the sensitivity factor (S) is added to the equation so as to present the sensitivity of a given environment to the human impact.
IPAT model applied in different countries
In today’s world the rates of annual growth of the population vary from country to country. At this time, the two leading countries in terms of the IPAT model are USA and China.
USA ( 307,006,550 people)
In the USA, the two dominant factors which contribute to its impact on the environment are affluence and technology. Scientists came to an amazing statistic which states that if the whole world consumed as much food as the average American, Canadian or Australian, that there would only be enough resources to feed 2.5 billion people. This fact tells us a lot about the great impact the US and its citizens have on the environment today.
China ( 1,331,460,000)
In China all 3 factors of the IPAT model (population, affluence and technology) have an impact of the environment. China has the largest population on Earth and therefore they needed to solve the problem of the rapid population increase in order to be able to feed and place its citizens. They introduced the controversial one child policy in 1978 which has prevented the birth of millions of Chinese babies per year since. However, China still hasn’t completely solved its problem of the population’s influence on the environment.
In our country, the mortality rate is higher than the birth rate. Therefore, the issue Serbia needs to overcome is to increase its birth rate and decrease its mortality rate. It is a very important problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible because the nation’s population is decreasing more and more every year unless some drastic measures are taken. Additionally, Serbia is a developing country whose level of technological advancement is very low and whose citizens are not using the resources available adequately or equally.
Hans Rosling ( born 1948) is a Swedish medical doctor, professor, statistician and public speaker. He has given many speeches and presentations around the world on issues such as economic development, agriculture, poverty and health in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He uses a specific software called Trendalyzer to present today’s world situation in terms of population growth and famine.
The statement from his speech that impressed us the most was the explanation that all countries progress and expand in the same way in terms of both the economic and population growth. The USA being the country that is furthest ahead of most countries but the ones left behind such as India, China, Mexico and Brazil are rapidly catching up.(4)
My partner for this assignment was Tamara.
1) Tackles Cultural Evolution. “Population Bomb” (Dec 3, 2008). Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/03/ehrlich_q
2) Withgott, J.& Brennan,S. (2010) Environment: The Science behind the stories. Fourth Ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education
3) Wikipedia. “Paul Ehrlich”. Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_R._Ehrlich
4) Wikipedia. ” Hans Rosling”. Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Rosling
5) Growth Through Technology. “Technology in Business Conference” (2007). Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://www.itcork.ie/index.cfm/page/gallery?rigId=
6) Earth Orbit. “The national Conversation on Alternative Energy” ( Oct 18, 2010). Retrieved May 7th, 2011 from http://savingtheearth.net/earthorbit/