Population Growth a Friend or Fo?

The purpose of this post is to provide one with some information about the global population growth and its affects on the natural resources available throughout the world. It provides one with factual knowledge about the different perspectives on the matter and also the different predictions that have been proposed for the future.

(1) Newborns, Birthrate is the leading factor in population growth

Today, the state of the human population is increasing at an extremely quick rate. The global population is 7 billion and each year it is increasing by 60 million. (2) Many inhabitants are starting to move from the more rural areas to the cities creating problems with crowding and resource usage. The main concern with this topic is how will the earth be able to  support this many people? Withgott and Brennan (3) state that the earth’s carrying capacity sets specific limits on the amount of population growth that can occur. There are a specific amount of resources allotted to the earth in order to support the amount of people in the population. As the earth’s population is ever increasing, a serious risk is presented. It is estimated that if 1-2 billion people live in a “healthy environment” then 33 billion will be living in extreme poverty.

There are many different factors that can cause a rise in the population. The first, and perhaps most obvious factor is the birth rates that fluctuate each year. In countries that are more undeveloped the birth rates are higher, whereas the countries that have more wealth have lower birth rates. Another important factor concerns the ratio of women to men. Withgott and Brennan (3) propose that for every 100 women there are 106 men, the equality in numbers of men and women result in more offspring. Another factor is the immigration rates. People that seek refuge from their own countries in deserted territories often use the conserved resources in order to provide for themselves.

Immigrants traveling to new territory


The Cornucopian’s standpoint on this issue is that because of the advances in technology a solution will be found in order to continue to support the people of the world with the nutrients and natural resources that they need in order to function. Contradictory to this the Cassandra’s view on this issue is that if the world continues to increase in population and to use the resources at this rate there is going to be some sort of a disaster. I believe that many people are aware of the happenings and the risks that we are taking by using mass resources in our everyday lives and still continue to be wasteful. A dangerous problem exists with the world’s population growth and resource consumption. I think that if we do continue to live the way we do with an increasing population that eventually we will use up the resource quota and an eventual disaster will result.

Paul Ehrlich, American Biologist


Paul Ehrlich and the IPAT Equation: 

Paul Ehrlich is an American biologist and educator, but is better known as an ecologist and a demographer. He became well-known after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb. He was also one of the first ecologists to recognize that the impact of human activity on the environment must be calculated using three factors instead of just one.

The IPAT equation is a formula used to describe the impact of human activity on the environment. The lettering stands for:
Human impact (I) on the environment equals (=) the product of Population (P), Affluence (A), Technology (T). It describes how these three factors contribute toward our environmental impact.
-Ehrlich?s book The Population Bomb brought about much controversy in the 1970s. In his book, Ehrlich warned about unrestricted population growth and limited resources. He argued that the population was already too high, and that humanity could not prevent severe famines, the spread of disease, social unrest, and other negative consequences of overpopulation. He also said that societies must take strong action to curb population growth in order to lessen future disasters both ecological and social.
Some of what Ehrlich mentions in his book did not come true, however, his main predictions did happen. He has backed up his statements by saying that 600 million people are going hungry, billions are under-nourished, and that his predictions about disease and climate change were essentially correct. A large reason for this is because the world has not cut back on technology or resources. New technologies are being discovered daily by large, developed countries. Also, many countries have an increasingly large ecological footprint and they continue to use the earth?s resources at a fast pace.
-IPAT Equation
United States ? The US does not have any rules or regulations on restricting children. Families are allowed to have as many children as they prefer, it is a personal choice. The US is also a leader in new technology. Because it is such a large and developed country, the US has access to many resources and technologies that smaller, under-developed countries would not have. Increased affluence in the United States would also increase the countries impact on the environment.
China ? The impact on the environment for China would be quite different than that on the US. Although China?s population is extremely high, the country is taking steps to decrease it. The country has a mandatory one-child policy. Many parents feel the need to have a male child so that their child cannot have kids. To do so, many women have an abortion if they become pregnant with a female child. This would potentially decrease China?s impact on the environment; however, China is also a world leader in new technology. This idea means that the country?s impact on the environment would increase.
Uganda ? Most African countries are decreasing in population. This is mainly due to causes such as starvation, disease, lack of food, water and medical care. Besides the fact that jobs are hard to come by; residents of small under-developed countries, such as Uganda, do not have the opportunity to go to school, get an education, and get a job. This is a major hindrance to increasing affluence. Finally, a country such as this one does not have the ability or resources to increase their technologies. All of these factors lead to the conclusion that Uganda does not have a very large impact on the world?s environment.

Hans Rosling, professor of global health


Hans Rosling: 
Hans Rosling is a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Rosling’s current works focus mainly on uncovering the truth about the developing world. He presents his data and other findings in a very different and unique way. His main objective is to preach the importance of understanding our global history so that we can make changes for the future.Some of the points that he addressed in his lecture were to show the growth of the population for the different countries. He believes that all developed countries are moving towards the same space. The US, Europe and China are all advanced technologically and are advancing towards the same space, this presents a problem. Perhaps the most interesting point that I felt Rosling made was that from the graph we were able to see that in the 1800’s life expectancy was 35-40 years, this age is the same as life expectancy today in Afghanistan. It is shocking that many places still remain behind in the advances.

Overall, I believe that the information that Rosling presented was very eye opening. It is very helpful to see the relationships and connections that can be made between different time periods and different countries. His graphs take into consideration the variety of variables that exist within population growth and demonstrate for us the changes that have taken place over the years. It is important to take into consideration the information above, and work to find way to make sure that the population growth does not hinder the way we live our lives.

Works Cited:

1) http://topnews.net.nz/images/Population-Growth.jpg

2) Human Populations  . (n.d.). The Global Change Program at the University of Michigan. Retrieved May 9, 2011, from http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/human_pop/human_pop.html

3) Withgott, J. & Brennan, S. (2010). Environment: The science behind the stories. 4th Edition. San Francisco: Pearson Education.

4) http://nsa01.casimages.com/img/2008/01/11/0801110925472034259.jpg

5) http://www.peoplequiz.com/images/bios/paul-ehrlich.jpg-4865.jpg

6) http://www.gapminder.org/wp-content/uploads/press/Hans_Rosling_low.jpg


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