- IMPACTS OF POPULATION GROWTH
BROWN, L.; GARDNER, G.; HALWELL, B.
FUTURIST; Vol. 33; Issue 2; p. 36-41; FEB 1999
THE WORLD'S POPULATION HAS DOUBLED DURING THE LAST HALF CENTURY. THIS UNPRECEDENTED SURGE IN POPULATION, COMBINED WITH RISING INDIVIDUAL CONSUMPTION, IS PUSHING HUMAN CLAIMS ON THE PLANET BEYOND ITS NATURAL LIMITS. THIS STUDY LOOKS AT 16 DIMENSIONS OR EFFECTS OF POPULATION GROWTH IN ORDER TO GAIN A BETTER PERSPECTIVE ON HOW FUTURE POPULATION TRENDS ARE LIKELY TO AFFECT HUMAN PROSPECTS
- POPULATION GROWTH, ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, AND THE GLOBAL AVAILABILITY OF FOOD
PIMENTEL, D.; PIMENTEL, M.
SOCIAL RESEARCH; Vol. 66; Issue 1; p. 417-428; SPR 1999
POPULATION GROWTH, THE UNEVEN DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD, INABILITY TO AFFORD FOOD, AND POLITICAL UNREST THREATEN WORLD FOOD SECURITY FOR HUMAN SOCIETY. AND, BECAUSE THE WORLD POPULATION CONTINUES TO EXPAND, MORE PRESSURE THAN EVER BEFORE IS BEING PLACED ON THE BASIC RESOURCES THAT ARE ESSENTIAL FOR FOOD PRODUCTION. UNFORTUNATELY, THE HUMAN POPULATION IS GROWING EXPONENTIALLY, WHEREAS FOOD PRODUCTION CAN ONLY INCREASE LINEARLY. FURTHERMORE, THE DEGRADATION OF LAND, WATER, ENERGY, AND BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES THAT ARE VITAL TO A SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE CONTINUE UNABATED. THE LIVES AND LIVELIHOOD OF FUTURE GENERATIONS DEPEND ON WHAT THE PRESENT GENERATION IS WILLING TO DO NOW TO MAKE AGRICULTURE SUSTAINABLE AND CONSERVE THE WORLD'S ECOLOGICAL RESOURCES.
- THE WATER BATTLE: HUMAN BEHAVIOUR, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND THE LONG-TERM FUTURE
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS; Vol. 2; Issue 2; p. 53-66; SUM 1998
CONSIDERING THAT FRESH WATER IS A VITAL COMPONENT OF LIVING ORGANISMS, THERE IS RELATIVELY LITTLE OF IT AVAILABLE ON THE PLANET. MANY OF THE METHODS USED TO PROVIDE, CONTROL AND USE WATER ACTUALLY COMPOUND THE PROBLEMS FOR HUMANS AND HAVE DEVASTATING EFFECTS ON OTHER SPECIES AND ECOSYSTEMS IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD. HUMAN BEHAVIOR IS UNLIKELY TO CHANGE AND THEREFORE POPULATION CONTROL EITHER THROUGH EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL CONSTRAINTS IS THE ONLY SIGNIFICANT LONG-TERM STRATEGY FOR OPTIMAL WATER PROVISION.
- POPULATION, CONSUMPTION, AND THE PATH TO SUSTAINABILITY
CURRENT HISTORY; Vol. 95; Issue 604; p. 366-371; NOV 1996
TECHNOLOGICAL OPTIMISTS CLAIM THAT THE EARTH CAN FEED, CLOTHE, AND HOUSE 10 BILLION PEOPLE. BUT RAPID POPULATION GROWTH MULTIPLIES POVERTY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION. A LAISSEZ-FAIRE ATTITUDE ABOUT A WORLD POPULATION THAT WILL DOUBLE IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS WILL ASSURE THAT LIFE WILL REMAIN HARSH FOR THE WORLD'S POOR. IF THE WORLD PURSUES THE AMERICAN MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT -- WITH ITS HIGH LEVELS OF CONSUMPTION, POLLUTION, AND DAMAGE TO THE NATURAL RESOURCE BASE -- AND EXTRAPOLATES THESE EFFECTS AND POPULATION GROWTH TO 2050, SOME BASIC PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS COULD BE AT RISK OF COLLAPSE. LESS APOCALYPTIC BUT JUST AS LOADED WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR HUMAN MISERY IS THE POSSIBILITY THAT IN MANY COUNTRIES NOW EXPERIENCING IMPORTANT PROGRESS -- SUCH AS MEXICO, EGYPT, KENYA, OR THE PHILIPPINES -- A DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF POPULATION GROWTH, DEBT, INEQUALITY, AND LOSS OF SOIL AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION COULD LEAD TO ECONOMIC DECLINE AND WIDESPREAD POLITICAL INSTABILITY. FORTUNATELY, THERE IS TIME TO CONTROL POLLUTION AND PREVENT DEGRADATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES. A POPULATION STABILIZING AT 10-11 BILLION SHOULD BE ABLE TO LIVE HUMANELY ON THE PLANET'S RESOURCES IF GOVERNMENTS TAKE THE DIFFICULT STEPS TO CURB EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION AND MANAGE RESOURCES SUSTAINABLY -- AND IF THE UNITED STATES TAKES THE LEAD.
- SEEING BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Z MAGAZINE; Vol. 9; Issue 9; p. 35-41; SEP 1996
THE COMMON DIALOGUE SINGLES OUT THE POPULATION EXPLOSION AS THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION, BUT IGNORES THE INTERRELATED CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS. THIS ARTICLE ARGUES THAT BLAMING ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION ON POPULATION GROWTH HAS RESULTED IN POPULATION CONTROL PROGRAMS THAT HAVE UNDERMINED WOMEN'S HEALTH, LIMITED WOMEN'S CHOICES, AND TARGETED POOR WOMEN AND WOMEN OF COLOR. IT OFFERS A TEST CASE OF BRAZIL TO ILLUSTRATE THE HUMAN COSTS OF POPULATION CONTROL.
- Food Scarcity: An Environmental Wakeup Call
The Futurist, 1998, 32, 1, Jan-Feb, 34-38.
Increasing environmental deterioration, ranging from deforestation to soil erosion to overfishing, will eventually translate into economic decline through its impact on the world's food system. Even if environmental degradation is stabilized today, approximately 800 million people in the world are hungry & malnourished. Securing future food supplies & building an environmentally stable economy requires stabilization of population & climate. The former will require a world revolution in human reproduction, while the latter will require unprecedented restructuring of the global energy economy. Opportunities for the world to move in the direction of population & climate stabilization are discussed. D. Generoli.
- Beyond Population Stabilization: The Case for Dramatically Reducing Global Human Numbers
Smail, J Kenneth
Politics and the Life Sciences, 1997, 16, 2, Sept, 183-192.
Points out the tension between two apparently irreconcilable trends: (1) demographic projections that world population size will reach 10-11 billion by the mid-21st century; & (2) scientific estimates that the Earth's long-term sustainable carrying capacity (at an adequate standard of living) may not be much greater than 2-3 billion. Internationally coordinated sociopolitical initiatives that go beyond slowing the growth or stabilizing global human numbers are needed now. Suggestions are offered for bringing about a significant reduction in global population over the next 200-300 years. These proposals are cautiously optimistic. Commentaries are offered by Virginia Deane Abernethy, Tim Dyson, Timothy F. Flannery, Lindsey Grant, Betsy Hartmann, Carl Haub, Richard D. Lamm, Wolfgang Lutz, Norman Myers, Jack Parsons, David Pimentel & Marcia Pimentel, M. S. Swaminathan, Tang Re-Feng, Bruce Wallace, Charles F. Westoff, & David Willey, to which a Response is given by Smail. Adapted from the source document.
- When Did the Human Population Size Start Increasing?
Wall, JD; Przeworski, M
Genetics, vol. 155, no. 4, pp. 1865-1874, Aug 2000
We analyze the frequency spectra of all available human nuclear sequence data sets by using a model of constant population size followed by exponential growth. Parameters of growth (more extreme than or) comparable to what has been suggested from mtDNA data can be rejected for 6 out of the 10 largest data sets. When the data are separated into African and non- African samples, a constant size no-growth model can be rejected for 4 out of 8 non-African samples. Long- term growth (i.e., starting 50-100 kya) can be rejected for 2 out of 8 African samples and 5 out of 8 non-African ones. Under more complex demographic models, including a bottleneck or population subdivision, more of the data are compatible with long-term growth. One problem with the data used here is that a subset of loci may reflect the action of natural selection as well as of demography. It remains possible that the correct demographic model is one of constant population size followed by long-term growth but that at several loci the demographic signature has been obscured by balancing or diversifying selection. However, it is not clear that the data at these loci are consistent with a simple model of balancing selection; more complicated selective alternatives cannot be tested unless they are made explicit. An alternative explanation is that population size growth is more recent (e.g., upper Paleolithic) and that some of the loci have experienced recent directional selection. Given the available data, the latter hypothesis seems more likely.
- Human population in the biodiversity hotspots
Cincotta, RP; Wisnewski, J; Engelman, R
Nature, vol. 404, no. 6781, pp. 990-992, 27 Apr 2000
Biologists have identified 25 areas, called biodiversity hotspots, that are especially rich in endemic species and particularly threatened by human activities. The human population dynamics of these areas, however, are not well quantified. Here we report estimates of key demographic variables for each hotspot, and for three extensive tropical forest areas that are less immediately threatened. We estimate that in 1995 more than 1.1 billion people, nearly 20% of world population, were living within the hotspots, an area covering about 12% of Earth's terrestrial surface. We estimate that the population growth rate in the hotspots (1995-2000) is 1.8%/yr, substantially higher than the population growth rate of the world as a whole (1.3%/yr) and above that of the developing countries (1.6%/yr). These results suggest that substantial human-induced environmental changes are likely to continue in the hotspots and that demographic change remains an important factor in global biodiversity conservation. The results also underline the potential conservation significance of the continuing worldwide declines in human fertility and of policies and programs that influence human migration.
- Modelling for prediction of global deforestation based on the growth of human population
Pahari, Krishna; Murai, Shunji
ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing [Isprs J Photogramm Remote Sensing], vol. 54, no. 5-6, pp. 317-324, Dec 1999
Deforestation due to ever-increasing activities of the growing human population has been an issue of major concern for the global environment. It has been especially serious in the last several decades in the developing countries. A population-deforestation model has been developed by the authors to relate the population density with the cumulative forest loss, which is defined and computed as the total forest loss until 1990 since prior to human civilisation. NOAA-AVHRR-based land cover map and the FAO forest statistics have been used for 1990 land cover. A simulated land cover map, based on climatic data, is used for computing the natural land cover before the human impacts. With the 1990 land cover map as base and using the projected population growth, predictions are then made for deforestation until 2025 and 2050 in both spatial and statistical forms.
- The built environment and the ecosphere: a global perspective
Building Research & Information [Build. Res. Inf.], vol. 27, no. 4-5, pp. 206-220, Oct 1999
The human population is rapidly urbanizing, leading many observers to conclude that humans are leaving nature and the countryside behind. This is a perceptual error consistent with the technological optimism inherent in the prevailing expansionist cultural worldview. By contrast, ecological analysis reveals that modern cities are actually increasingly dependent on the goods and services of nature. This fact is merely obscured by technology and urbanization itself. Typical high-income cities appropriate the productive and assimilative capacity of a vast and increasingly global hinterland, resulting in an 'ecological footprint' several hundred times larger than the areas they physically occupy. In the next 27 years, the urban population alone is expected to grow by the equivalent of the total human population in the 1930s. This will double the 1970s urban presence on the Earth. Unfortunately, the conventional development path is biophysically unsustainable, calling for a radical transformation of our thinking about urban form and function. Buildings account for 40% of the materials and about a third of the energy consumed by the world economy. Combined with ecocity design principles, green building technologies therefore have the potential to make an enormous contribution to a required 50% reduction in the energy and material intensity of consumption globally. The needed dematerialization increases to 90% in the high-income countries. Such enormous gains in material productivity are unlikely in the absence of significant ecological fiscal (tax) reform. Ironically, then, the most effective path to green buildings and ecocities may be intensive lobbying for higher taxes on primary energy and materials.
- On Human Population Growth, Natural Selection, and the Tragedy of the Commons
Conservation Biology [Conserv. Biol.], vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 447-449, Apr 1999
In two recent issues of Conservation Biology, Gehrt (1996) and Kay (1997) discussed some aspects of the "human population problem." Gehrt advocated the promotion of education and ecocentric ethics to change human population growth and behavior. Kay suggested, on the other hand, that a human population problem does not exist because the real problem is evolution by natural selection. Therefore, neither education nor ethics can offer solutions. I comment on both contributions and correct some misconceptions, especially one about "the laws of evolution." More specifically, I want to address (1) what the human population problem consists of and (2) whether it really is a problem of natural selection.
- Human Population Density and Prediction of Local Plant Extinction in Britain
Thompson, K; Jones, A
Conservation Biology [Conserv. Biol.], vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 185-189, Feb 1999
Throughout the world, and particularly in densely populated countries like Britain, human activities exert a dominant influence on the abundance of both plants and animals. The commonness and rarity of plants in Britain has been plausibly linked to human land use. In Western Europe the identity of increasing and decreasing plants appears to depend on human population density, which is itself a crude measure of human impact on the landscape. The publication of new data on the changing distributions of scarce British plants allowed us to investigate the relationship between loss of scarce plants and human population density in Britain. Our results confirm that a direct effect of human population density on local plant extinctions can be detected at the regional scale in Britain. Although intensive agriculture is conventionally regarded as the greatest threat to British wildlife, our analysis suggests that urbanization may be at least as significant a danger.
- Impact of ground water quality on human population of Katihar township (North Bihar, India)
Mandal, TN; Kumari, K; Sinha, KMP
Indian Journal of Environmental Sciences [Indian J. Environ. Sci.], vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 57-61, 1999
Water samples from dug and tube wells near Kosi river and industrial area were analysed for the assessment of chemical quality with reference to Indian Standards for drinking water. It was observed that values of several parameters exceeded beyond the permissible limits which points-out to the necessity of proper treatment, disposal and management of wastes discharged into the river and on the open land.
- Population, development and global warming: Averting the tragedy of the climate commons
Population and Environment [Popul. Environ.], vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 443-463, May 1998
Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use and other human activity are predicted to cause a significant warming of the global climate, according to a growing consensus of scientists. Global warming would have substantial negative effects on the world environment and economy. Human population and economic growth continue to drive both energy use and carbon emissions. While the developed countries are the largest source of present and past emissions, developing countries are rapidly catching up. China will probably surpass the United States as the largest carbon emitter early in the next century. The global warming treaty signed in Rio in 1992 relies entirely on voluntary emission caps for developed countries and has had little or no apparent effect on emissions. Much stronger steps must be taken to avoid or lessen potential climate change. A globally determined but nationally imposed carbon tax should be adopted to internalize the future costs of carbon emissions into the present cost of fossil fuel and other carbon sources. This would allow the maximum use of free market forces and individual choice to determine how carbon emission reductions are achieved. In addition, national emission caps for all countries should be established. International trade mechanisms can be used to support universal implementation of these measures. Where possible, global warming policy should include strong but equitable incentives for sustainable development and population stabilization, important goals in themselves regardless of the extent of future climate change.
- Population and global security
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, NEW YORK, NY 10011-4211 (USA), May 1998, 316 pp.
The human population of the world is increasing by about 1.5% per annum, adding about one hundred million people to the human ark each year. Not all agree that population growth on this scale constitutes a problem, but there is wide acceptance that the world's human population cannot go on growing indefinitely. Where do the limits lie, and how can they be determined? What are the problems caused by population growth and how can we safeguard the future of our planet? In this important new book, leading authorities examine the implications of rapid human population growth for global stability and security. Avoiding the hysteria and over-statement that so often characterize discussions of human population issues, the book represents an important assessment of current prospects for the process of sustainable development, based on care for the environment.
- The population explosion: Why we should care and what we should do about it
Ehrlich, PR; Ehrlich, AH
Environmental Law (Portland) [Environ. Law (Portland)], vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 1187-1208, 1997
This Article renews the Ehrlichs' warning regarding the ever-increasing human population of the planet. It explains that the developed world's high rates of energy consumption, particularly that of the United States, make the developed world the most overpopulated part of the world, contrary to popular impression. The Article calls for increased equity, both between nations and the genders as the only practicable, ethical solution to the population problem. Gender equity is the most effective way to reduce the growth of the human population, while international equity is necessary to bring energy consumption down in the developed world while keeping increases in consumption low in the developing world. The Article concludes that humanity must take action immediately to reduce the impact of population on our environment or face eventual environmental disaster.
- The environment, population, and womens human rights
Environmental Law (Portland) [Environ. Law (Portland)], vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 1137-1168, 1997
The population of the earth has exploded in modern times, causing widespread concern about the planet's ability to sustain ecological balance. Rising fertility rates have also resulted in social, cultural, and economic pressures, especially in developing countries. In an effort to combat the problems associated with an ever-increasing human population, many governments and international organizations have implemented policies designed to lower fertility. However, these policies have generally not had the desired effect. In addition, initiatives to stabilize population growth have had serious impacts on human rights, particularly on women's human rights. The time has come to re-evaluate traditional fertility policies and move towards programs that protect human rights while using social and economic change to stabilize population growth. By realizing the shortcomings of traditional population control policies and emphasizing the positive impact that increasing women's education and independence has on population growth, more effective and humane population policies can be designed. This Article discusses various population policies and their effects on human rights.
- Human population and the loss of biological diversity: Two aspects of the same problem
International Journal of Environment and Pollution [INT J ENVIRON POLLUT], vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 62-71, 1997
Strategies to limit the detrimental impact of human population growth must seek not only to limit the number of humans on the planet but also to provide for the preservation of the biological diversity that population growth threatens to destroy. Balancing human numbers with biological support systems is the key to finding a sustainable future. Efforts to protect biological diversity can further the population debate by identifying the real effects and limits of population growth, and by identifying the relationship between biological degradation and human population growth.
- Human activity and wildlife protection: Conflicts and challenges
Israel Environ. Bull., vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 15-19, 1997
Indubitably the main reason for the general decline in Israel's fauna since the beginning of the century has been the dramatic increase in human population. Since the beginning of the present century, the area west of the Jordan River has undergone major changes, with a tenfold increase in population and a similar increase in standard of living. Furthermore, changes in agricultural methods, such as more irrigated areas and large-scale use of pesticides, have had a pronounced effect on wildlife. Today, the greatest danger to Israel's wildlife lies in the continued cultivation and urbanization of Israel's already limited open space landscapes, a process which threatens to destroy more and more natural habitats, more and more species.
- The Great Reversal: Nature's Chance to Restore Land and Sea
Ausubel, Jesse H
Technology in Society, 2000, 22, 3, Aug, 289-301.
In the middle of the 20th century, humans began to reverse the pattern they followed for millennia of extending further into nature to meet needs for food & materials. Recognizing this Great Reversal, I explore the areas in human use for cities, logging, & farming, & search the centuries for principles & trends to forecast land use in the latter part of the 21st century when global population may number 10 billion. Offsetting the sprawl of cities, rising yields in farms & forests & changing tastes can release large amounts of land. For example, with growing population & cities, the US in the next century could still newly spare for nature an area twice the size of Spain. Shifting from hunting to farming fish can similarly spare nature. Globally, wise & intelligent humanity can extend the Great Reversal into a Great Restoration of nature on land & in the sea. 3 Figures, 20 References. Adapted from the source document.
- Global War and the Human Population Problem
Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, 2000, 25, 2, summer, 241-250.
The author examines the likelihood that global war, utilizing nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, will halt the ongoing destruction of Earth's biosphere by human overpopulation & industrial activity. After summarizing the current state of the global environment, he speculates on what will happen if present trends continue & then examines the possible impact of such a war as a natural counterbalance to human destruction of the biosphere. He concludes by addressing the question of the size & composition of a sustainable human population. 5 References. Adapted from the source document.
- For the Sake of Survival: Values and Preconditions for a Sustainable Future
Pelser, A J; Van Rensburg, H C J
Tydskrift vir Geesteswetenskappe, 1997, 37, 3, Sept, 164-177.
In light of the pending global environmental crisis, it is argued that solutions must depart from a revolutionary change in value systems & focus on how humankind has come to view its relationship with the natural environment. It is further argued that environmental crises are as much part of the sociopolitical field as of the technological & scientific fields. Several social conditions that should be addressed in the endeavor for a sustainable society are elucidated: revision of current value systems characterized mainly by economic principles; curbing of population growth rates; expansion of human rights; alleviation of poverty; universal access to education, health services, & family planning; redistribution of & access to natural resources; community involvement; & the fostering of a political will to address these issues. 30 References. Adapted from the source document.
- Averting the 21st Century's Demographic Crisis: Can Human Numbers Be Reduced by 75%?
Smail, J Kenneth
Population and Environment, 1997, 18, 6, July, 565-580.
Explores worldwide population growth & its eventual consequences, contending that, although the problem has been noted, the global community must abandon the zero population growth program & work to reduce the human population by 75% before the beginning of the 23rd century. Several realities & consequences of the 20th-century population explosion, eg, the Earth's finite carrying capacity & the small % of people with adequate standards of living, are discussed. Humanity's current project is described as averting the catastrophic repercussions of unmediated population growth while decreasing consumption & waste of natural resources. Recommendations for accomplishing this project include (1) postponing marriage &/or childbearing ages; (2) emphasizing that the right to reproduction is outweighed by social responsibility to not overproduce; & (3) religious institutions' adopting a unified prosition that advocates fertility limitations. It is concluded that methods for population stabilization & reduction are the principle dilemmas to be faced. 30 References. J. W. Parker.
- The Future of Global Population Modeling
Rogerson, Peter A
Futures, 1997, 29, 4-5, May-June, 381-392.
Whereas futures studies often begin with the prospect of global overpopulation, many demographers are equally concerned about declining population. To clarify & reconcile these differences, issues of geographic scale, linkages between populations, measurement, & possibilities for improved forecasts of demographic change are discussed. Issues of geographic scale are central to proper analysis because there is tremendous variation in fertility, migration, & mortality across populations, & because of the limitations of analysis & forecasting techniques. Factors that determine demographic change include new waves of international migration & technologies of reproduction, health & lifestyle, demographers' & institutions' political agendas, & even changing definitions of what is human. Continual monitoring of the components of population change is vital to achieve an up-to-date demographic outlook. New techniques, especially geographic information systems & other tools of visualization, can aid understanding of past change, help take advantage of new & more reliable data, & realize the implications of current forecasts. 2 Appendixes, 23 References. Adapted from the source document.
- Residential Expansion as a Continental Threat to U.S. Coastal Ecosystems
Bartlett, JG; Mageean, DM; O'Connor, RJ
Population and Environment [Popul. Environ.], vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 429-468, May 2000
Spatially extensive analysis of satellite, climate, and census data reveals human-environment interactions of regional or continental concern in the United States. A grid-based principal components analysis of Bureau of Census variables revealed two independent demographic phenomena, alpha -settlement reflecting traditional human settlement patterns and beta -settlement describing relative population growth correlated with recent construction in non-agricultural areas, notably in coastal, desert, and "recreational" counties and around expanding metropolitan areas. Regression tree analysis showed that beta -settlement was differentially associated with five distinct combinations of seasonality, summer heat or cool, intensity of agriculture, and extent of "barren" land. Beta-settlement was greatest in coastal and desert areas, and coincided with national concentrations of threatened and endangered species.
- Population Growth in the United States and Canada: a Role for Scientists
Conservation Biology [Conserv. Biol.], vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 1518-1519, Dec 1999
North Americans who recognize the connection between growth in human numbers and biosphere damage often think that reduction of environmental degradation depends on curbing population growth on other continents. Yet the rapidly increasing populations of Canada and the United States constitute a serious hazard to the global environment. The per-capita consumption of natural resources by individual North Americans, who draw on land and energy resources from the rest of the world, is several times that of individuals in poorer countries. To halt ecosystem simplification worldwide, population growth in North America has to be stopped. It is unreasonable to expect other parts of the world to arrest population growth when policies of federal governments in North America accept (United States) or specifically encourage (Canada) exponential growth in human numbers.
- Feedbacks, thresholds and synergies in global change: Population as a dynamic factor
Biodiversity and Conservation [Biodivers. Conserv.], vol. 5, no. 9, pp. 1069-1083, Sep 1996
The role of feedbacks, thresholds, and synergies in environmental science, and their implications for environmental degradation under a growing human population, are reviewed. A detailed analysis of the impacts of climate change on water resources is used to elucidate mechanisms by which non-linearities arise in environmental science. Additional examples are drawn from analysis of soil degradation and non-climate related degradation of water resources. The often-assumed notion that impacts will grow in proportion to population size is shown to be overly optimistic. In particular, feedbacks, thresholds, and synergies among multiple threats, tend to amplify risk and cause environmental impacts to grow considerably faster than linearly in population size, even when the per-capita living standard and the technological systems deployed to achieve that living standard are assumed to remain constant.
- Addressing the Global Water and Environment Crises through Integrated Approaches to the Management of Land, Water and Ecological Resources
Duda, AM; El-Ashry, MT
Water International [Water Int.], vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 115-126, Mar 2000
As the world approaches the 30-year anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and prepares to review progress made in the decade since Dublin and Rio, we are confronted with results that are mostly disappointing. When it comes to addressing the water resources crisis, the 1990s may well be remembered as a decade of debate rather than action. Recent assessments suggest a doubling to almost two-thirds of the world's population experiencing some water stress by 2025 and increased demands to withdraw more water for a new "green revolution" for irrigated agriculture. Both of these will accelerate environmental degradation to a new crisis level while the existing degradation that resulted from the first "green revolution" still awaits remedial action both in the North as well as in the South. It is now clear that the global water crisis and the global environment crisis are linked and are being exacerbated by unprecedented global pressure resulting from over-consumption, population growth, globalization of economic systems and trade, reduction in development assistance, and failure to enact necessary policy, legal, and institutional reforms. This article makes the case that the traditional sector-by-sector approach to economic development is a key contributor to the two global crises. Lessons of experience are presented on policy, legal, and institutional reforms necessary to address the inter-linked crises through integrated approaches to managing land and water resources and their biological diversity. Water pricing reforms, reductions in damaging subsidies, land tenure reforms, community participation, and institutional reforms are necessary. There is a need to build upon the linkages and synergies among the three Rio conventions (climate, biodiversity, and desertification) in order to create new global driving forces for actions to address the crises holistically in the context of a country's national sustainable development strategy. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and its implementing agencies stand ready with incremental cost grant financing to assist countries willing to undertake the reforms for integrated basin management of land, water and biological resources as they transition towards sustainable development.
- Plants and population: Is there time?
Fedoroff, NV; Cohen, JE
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA], vol. 96, no. 11, pp. 5903-5907, 25 May 1999
The year 1998 was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Malthus's famous first essay on population. Malthus argued that agriculture could not increase production as fast as the lust between the sexes would inevitably increase population size, and therefore that humans were condemned to poverty, famine, pestilence, and vice. Malthusian worries have been echoed by many since Malthus first wrote. Today discussions about the future growth of food supply and population are increasingly informed by the awareness that human activities impinge on the Earth's ability to sustain them. There is concern about the ecological and environmental consequences of expanding the food supply further to feed the still rapidly growing numbers of humans.