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As mentioned earlier, the earth’s population is seven billion. That number might not seem particularly jarring on its own; after all, we all know there are lots of people around. But consider the fact that human population grew very slowly for most of our existence, then doubled in the span of half a century to reach six billion in 1999. And now, just over ten years later, we have added another billion. A look at the graph of projected population indicates that growth is not only going to continue, but it will continue at a rapid rate.

The United Nations Population Fund (2008) categorizes nations as high fertility, intermediate fertility, or low fertility. They anticipate the population growth to triple between 2011 and 2100 in high-fertility countries, which are currently concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. For countries with intermediate fertility rates (the U.S., India, and Mexico all fall into this category), growth is expected to be about 26 percent. And low-fertility countries like China, Australia, and most of Europe will actually see population declines of approximately 20 percent. The graphs below illustrate this trend.

Projected population in africa

A graph projecting the growing population of Africa.
This graph shows the population growth of countries located on the African continent, many of which have high fertility rates. (Graph courtesy of USAID)

Projected population in the united states

A graph predicting the growing population of the United States.
The United States has an intermediate fertility rate, and therefore, a comparatively moderate projected population growth. (Graph courtesy of USAID)

Projected population in europe

A graph predicting the growing population of Europe.
This chart shows the projected population growth of Europe for the remainder of this century. (Graph courtesy of USAID)

It would be impossible to discuss population growth and trends without addressing access to family planning resources and birth control. As the stages of population growth indicate, more industrialized countries see birthrates decline as families limit the number of children they have. Today, many people—over 200 million—still lack access to safe family planning, according to USAID (2010). By their report, this need is growing, with demand projected to increase by 40 percent in the next 15 years. Many social scholars would assert that until women are able to have only the children they want and can care for, the poorest countries will always bear the worst burden of overpopulation.

Further research

To learn more about population concerns, from the new-era ZPG advocates to the United Nations reports, check out these links: (External Link) and (External Link)

Long-term consequences of exponential human population growth

Many dire predictions have been made about the world’s population leading to a major crisis called the “population explosion.” In the 1968 book The Population Bomb , biologist Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich wrote, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Paul R. Erlich, prologue to The Population Bomb , (1968; repr., New York: Ballantine, 1970). While many critics view this statement as an exaggeration, the laws of exponential population growth are still in effect, and unchecked human population growth cannot continue indefinitely.

Efforts to control population growth led to the one-child policy    in China, which used to include more severe consequences, but now imposes fines on urban couples who have more than one child. Due to the fact that some couples wish to have a male heir, many Chinese couples continue to have more than one child. The policy itself, its social impacts, and the effectiveness of limiting overall population growth are controversial. In spite of population control policies, the human population continues to grow. At some point the food supply may run out because of the subsequent need to produce more and more food to feed our population. The United Nations estimates that future world population growth may vary from 6 billion (a decrease) to 16 billion people by the year 2100. There is no way to know whether human population growth will moderate to the point where the crisis described by Dr. Ehrlich will be averted.

Another result of population growth is the endangerment of the natural environment. Many countries have attempted to reduce the human impact on climate change by reducing their emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. However, these treaties have not been ratified by every country, and many underdeveloped countries trying to improve their economic condition may be less likely to agree with such provisions if it means slower economic development. Furthermore, the role of human activity in causing climate change has become a hotly debated socio-political issue in some developed countries, including the United States. Thus, we enter the future with considerable uncertainty about our ability to curb human population growth and protect our environment.

Visit this website and select “Launch movie” for an animation discussing the global impacts of human population growth.

Section summary

The world’s human population is growing at an exponential rate. Humans have increased the world’s carrying capacity through migration, agriculture, medical advances, and communication. The age structure of a population allows us to predict population growth. Unchecked human population growth could have dire long-term effects on our environment.

Art connections

[link] Age structure diagrams for rapidly growing, slow growing and stable populations are shown in stages 1 through 3. What type of population change do you think stage 4 represents?

[link] Stage 4 represents a population that is decreasing.

Questions & Answers

How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
How can I make nanorobot?
Lily
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
how can I make nanorobot?
Lily
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
Which of the following is best at showing the life expandency of an individual within a a population
Daniel Reply
perianth is present in which gymnosperms ?
DebaXish Reply
perianth is present in which gymnos4perms ?
DebaXish Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Bi 101 for lbcc ilearn campus. OpenStax CNX. Nov 28, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11593/1.1
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