Earth approaching limit on human capacity

How will we act.

Has Earth reached its carrying capacity?

As our material circumstances improve, we have fewer children, not more. Instead, we might turn to history, or literature, or social science for a more humanistic approach. Global climate change, mass extinction, and overexploitation of our global commons are all examples of the ways in which humans have altered the natural landscape.

But now there are many projections of a continuation of the decline in world agricultural capability and hence carrying capacity which began in the s. Biologists call it an evolutionary leap.

Growth in per-capita consumption rises dramatically as people transition from rural agrarian economies to modern industrial economies. The population overshoots K by a little, declines, rebounds, and eventually oscillates around K.

We have infrastructure—in production, technology, transport, and communication—that transforms our pursuit of basic resources to a complex and dynamic global web.

A house, for example, might mean that one does not need to eat as much to stay warm as one otherwise would. If the world moves quickly to stabilize population growththe UN estimates we will peak around 8 billion people in and then decline. Chimpanzees in the wild form kinship bonds, save food for the future, and sacrifice their own needs for a group.

Clearly, we need a model of human population limits that includes the wide array of resources on which humans depend.

We always had more then enough pie to feed new people at the table, and more people were a welcomed sign of continued prosperity generally. Historians call it a turning point for civilization.

In the Philippines, mass typhoons kill thousands of people. Will we be the exception to the rule. In this model, humans are bound to outgrow the Earth's resources [source: This means that birth and death rates in the future are relatively equal.

Consider the information in the list below and decide if the item is an indication that humans may have exceeded their carrying capacity in some regions. With humans producing food and living in high-rise buildings, that number increases significantly [source: There are 2, gigatons of CO2 left in the ground.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that carrying capacity of a population can increase or decrease and there are various factors that affect it. I challenge you in your personal life to make a positive change and set an example for the rest of the world by having no more than two children.

We want comforts, luxuries, and freedoms. Today, western Europe and the US struggle to maintain 2 per cent annual growth.

So, what can be done to minimize our collective impact on the environment. More than an ecological tool, I see K as a valuable lens to examine what is deeply human: The ecologist in me is terrified.

Before we hit that critical point we need to stabilize our growth. He lives in Oakland. The concepttellingly, owes its origin to 19th-century shipping, referring to the payload capacities of steam ships.

Featured image from here. For instance, an increase in the population growth can lead to over-exploitation of necessary natural resources and therefore decrease the overall carrying capacity of that environment. In Bangladesh, rising sea levels threaten agriculture.

As close as the South Bronx, fossil fuel emissions cause triple asthma rates for children of color. If more people eat from this proverbial pie, each piece must shrink to accommodate the growing number of people at the table.

Activists compare the current movement for environmental justice to the mobilization, solidarity, and collective vision of Civil Rights. Today, demands to impose planetary boundaries globally are couched in redistributive and egalitarian rhetoric, so as to avoid any suggestion that doing so might condemn billions to deep agrarian poverty.

The population shoots past K, ignores environmental feedback, dies off, and declines to extinction. What can we expect for the future of the human species. Our growing population, coupled with rising affluence and per capita impact, is driving our planet closer to its tipping point.

The Anthrome map shows croplands, rangelands, urban areas and other human settlements.

Carrying Capacity Reached: The Need for Population Stability

ASSIGNMENT: FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Although it is difficult to determine the exact human carrying capacity for a country as large and diverse as the U.S., an estimate of carrying capacity is essential for those whose jobs involve the development of policies to ensure that the environment is able to support life into the future.

And we may be reaching the upper limits of our potential time on Earth. A study published Wednesday in Nature suggests that the natural human life span maxes out at about years. K: Calculating Earth’s limits Most of my fears about climate change can be summarized by a single letter: K.

K is the ecological term for carrying capacity, the maximum population of a species that a given habitat can sustain. The idea of Earth's carrying capacity goes something like this: Humans need certain resources to survive at subsistence level -- most commonly air, food, water and usually some kind of shelter.

A sustainable habitat is one in which supply of and demand for these resources are balanced.


There are limits to the life-sustaining resources earth can provide us. In other words, there is a carrying capacity for human life on our planet. Carrying capacity is the maximum number of a species an environment can support indefinitely.

Every species has a carrying capacity, even humans.

Population Size

What other factors might set the limit on human growth? Unlike many species in nature, the value of K for humans can’t be determined by baseline factors like food, water, and shelter.

Has Earth reached its carrying capacity?

Humans aren’t satisfied with mere survival.

Earth approaching limit on human capacity
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Carrying Capacity - World Population