Daniel Halliday
Aug 27, 2018 · Last update 7 mo. ago.

How many people can the world sustainably support?

As scientists have warned that we have entered the sixth mass extinction event in the history of life on Earth, could it be linked to human population levels? Should we be asking this important question?
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The myth of overpopulation
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Not with the population growth.
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10 billion … Vegetarians
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A variable amount based on multiple factors
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The myth of overpopulation

This common misconception was first made popular in the writings of Thomas Malthus in the late 18th century, in ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’. However, predictions such as this have been proven false many times over, as innovation has led to ever more efficient ways of making food, and will continue to. Current global human population is thought to be able to inhabit the State of Texas alone, all the world's population enjoying an area of a 100 sqm per person, more than many people occupy currently. Furthermore the UN have officially predicted the rate of growth, that has been slowing since the 1980s, to reach a peak in 2040 and actually start declining naturally at around a population of 8 billion people.

overpopulationisamyth.com/episode-1-overpopulation-the-making-of-a-myth

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 30
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Not with the population growth.

Because the amount of food and clean water that can be produced and supported is not equal to the population and availability of resources: such as land and energy for electricity.

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 30
DH edited this paragraph
Because the amount of food and clean water that can be produced and supported is not equal to the population and availability of resources: such as land and energy for electricity. The current rate of population growth is 1% yearly, a rate that is by no means sustainable, so more should be done to decrease this uncontrolled rate of growth. Population control policies, such as recently revoked Chinese "one child policy", do not work to help control this rate; instead more should be done globally to send children to school, to empower women and to give people greater access to birth control and contraceptives. Education and family planning has the greatest effect on levelling out population growth to a sustainable rate

10 billion … Vegetarians

Population growth has fallen steadily since the 1970’s but is predicted to surpass 8 billion by 2025, and 10 billion in 2055, even factoring in this continued drop in growth rate. Scientists such as Edward O. Wilson have attempted to calculate how many people the world can sustainably support, by calculating the amount of farmable land and the amount of food this could produce. He estimates that 10 billion people could be supported on the 3.5 billion acres available, but only if the farm land were used most efficiently, to grow vegetables only, meaning this population of ten billion would have to become mostly vegetarian.

Recent studies have estimated that the human population exceeded Earth’s sustainable capacity around 1978. We are now risking heading increasingly towards a dilemma where we are trading off standard of living against not addressing the issue of population growth. As Wilson points out population growth could carry on but at what cost, and on what kind of planet? If resources are stretched to maximum capacity, if human population is stretching the Earth to breaking point, is it really worth the risk?

independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-world-is-not-enough-655035.html

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 29
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DH edited this paragraph
Population growth has fallen steadily since the 1970’s but is predicted to surpass 8 billion by 2025, and 10 billion in 2055, even factoring in this continued drop in growth rate. Scientists such as Edward O. Wilson have attempted to calculate how many people the world can sustainably support, by calculating the amount of farmable land and the amount of food this could produce. He estimates that 10 billion people could be supported on the 3.5 billion acres available, but only if the farm land were used most efficiently, to grow vegetables only, meaning this population of ten billion would have to become mostly vegetarian.

A variable amount based on multiple factors

In population biology carrying capacity is the maximum population of a species an environment can support indefinitely based on the availability of food, habitat, water and any other necessities. Previous reports of a world’s carrying capacity for the human species of between 4 and 16 billion have been lowered recently, due to the growth of the middle class worldwide and increased consumption that goes along with that. Humans prove a more challenging species to apply this idea to then, as there are numerous other human specific factors to consider, medical care, sanitation, waste volume and management all prove more complex factors than apply to most animal species.

More effort should be made to determine, or agree upon a more accurate measure for a global carrying capacity for humans as a species. Big questions and considerations may arise out of this such as the relation between consumption and population and if driving down one is good for the other, but whatever the case this remains a truly global question that could only be debated and answered by a global body such as the UN. Determining the earth's human carrying capacity as also pose other difficult questions, as our world economic structure relies on population growth for economic growth. Are we not going to reach an eventual point when both can no longer be positive and we need to rethink the economic systems and growth as a whole? Should we not strive for answers to those big questions, sooner rather than later?

sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380005003339?via%3Dihub

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 29
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DH edited this paragraph
In population biology carrying capacity is the maximum population of a species an environment can support indefinitely based on the availability of food, habitat, water and any other necessities. Previous reports of a world’s carrying capacity for the human species of between 4 and 16 billion have been lowered recently, due to the growth of the middle class worldwide and increased consumption that goes along with that. Humans prove a more challenging species to apply this idea to then, as there are numerous other human specific factors to consider, medical care, sanitation, waste volume and management all prove more complex factors than apply to most animal species.
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