November 29, 2012
Population Growth and Food Supplies
The world population is currently at 7.6 billion (PBR). In the article, Billions and Billions, in The New Yorker which is discussing the world’s population reaching seven billion, Author Elizabeth Kolbert said “Depending on how you look at it, it has taken humanity a long time to reach this landmark, or practically no time at all (The New Yorker). Keeping that statement in mind let’s take a look back at history. Homo sapiens have been around a few hundred thousand years. Agriculture was developed about 10,000 years ago. It is estimated that the world population at that time was approximately five million people (The Population Explosion). The world population grew to roughly fifteen million during the First Dynasty in Egypt, hitting two hundred million by the time of Christ, and hitting the first billion around 1800 (The New Yorker). It took the world’s population only another 130 years to double to two billion. Here we are 82 years later with a population that has more than tripled the amount of 1930 (USA). If you look at population in terms of a lifespan it is quite astounding. The average life expectancy for a female born in the United States today is 80.69 years (World). It is almost unimaginable to think within the lifespan of a female born in the United States today the world’s population could be more than tripled its current amount if we maintain the same rate of growth. I say, “more than triple,” because if the population continued to grow at the current rate, more people would be having more children thus increasing the population even faster. If you look at a time line of the world’s population growth you already see the exponential growth that has taken place.
This type of growth is called the J-shape curve. If you can recall from science, this is usually associated with a species that has grown exponentially and has reached the carrying capacity of their environment. The result of this type of growth usually has increased environmental problems. The most important being the ability of the environment to sustain a species with this type of growth rate. The result could vary from a collapse of resources within the environment to complete extinction of a species. For humans, the result of a collapse of our natural resources could indeed cause a collapse to the human species. Such a collapse may not cause the extinction of the human race; however, such a collapse would have a major impact on our current way of life. Think about a world with fewer resources available, war would be inevitable. To gain control over the resources that are left many would parish for the few to survive. Has the human population reached the carrying capacity of the Earth? Some believe it has while others believe it has not. While the Earth as a whole may not have met its carrying capacity of the human population I think there are parts of the world that may have. There are areas in the world where people do not have enough to eat. Is this a sign showing us the human population and food resources are in danger? Much of the land is changing; deserts are expanding, forests are being cut down, and our glaciers and polar caps are melting. We refuse to see what is happening. It’s as though we are all ostriches with our heads buried in the sand. The population growth, or fertility rate, of the world needs to be addressed as a whole. The only way to stop any kind of scenario similar to that explained in the previous paragraphs is to stop population growth at its current rate. We must act to sustain the world’s population immediately. This is not a game; the scenario of our food supply failing to feed us will become reality if we chose to ignore the signs in front of us. There is no secret to the fact fertility rates are higher in developing countries than they are in developed countries. Why is that? The answer could be due...
Cited: Journal of Agrarian Change, Vol. 10 No. 1. Food Riots: Poverty, Power and Protest. Ray Bush. Jan. 2010. Nov. 29, 2012. http://sustainabilityparadox.commons.gc.cuny.edu/files/2010/09/bush-food-riots.pdf
Population Growth over Human History
PRB. World Population Data Sheet 2012. Carl Haub. 2012. Nov. 15, 2012. http://www.prb.org/Publications/Datasheets/2012/world-population-data-sheet/fact-sheets.aspx
The Population Explosion. Why Isn’t Everyone As Scared as We Are? Paul R. Ehrlich & Anne H. Ehrlich. 1990. Nov. 15, 2012. http://www.ditext.com/ehrlich/1.html
The New Yorker
USA Today. World population to reach 7 billion in 2012. June 19, 2006. Nov . 15, 2012. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-06-19-worldpopulation_N.htm
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