This report will show the natural carrying capacity of Earth and its current population. Carrying capacity is a term that describes the number of individuals of a species that an ecosystem can support. Earth currently has a human population estimated to be 6,914,692,388 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). The question is, is Earth at her carrying capacity?
In a normal population, there are limiting factors, or conditions that limit how many individuals survive. Limiting factors include food, water, predation, competition, and parasitism, space. If there are no limiting factors, exponential growth occurs. (See graph 1) Humanity is experiencing exponential growth. Animals cannot grow their own food, transport water to ecosystems unfit for their habitation, or make multi-level dwellings to accommodate more individuals. Animals cannot avoid predation, competition or parasitism either, so their numbers are controlled by limiting factors. These factors are called density-dependent because as the density of the population increases, increasing demands on these limited resources impact the population. Density-independent factors are those things that are not dependent on the number of individuals, such as climate change, weather, natural disasters, and human deforestation. These things can limit or destroy a population even if it is not at its carrying capacity. With density-dependent factors, a population reaches an equilibrium point, carrying capacity, where disease, predation, and amount of macronutrients in the environment prevent more individuals from living in the area, but birth rates keep the number from going down (See graph 2).
Animals cannot circumvent limiting factors, but humans on the other hand can. Food is cultivated where natural flora and fauna once existed. Water is pumped to the surface, piped from distance places, and stored for future need. Space is had by moving into wild lands and building structures to house... [continues]
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