Overpopulation

An Introduction

The beginning of the beginning

This is the first post of what I hope will become a comprehensive review of Overpopulation and Climate Change. I want to talk about the challenges that we, as humanity, are facing and some of the ways in which we might overcome these challenges.

Some high level background

The world population is growing, and continuing to grow. According to some estimates in 1900 the world population was about 1.5billion. By 1960 it was 3billion and by 1999 it was 6 billion.

Some estimates are that the world population will reach 9billion by 2042 and 11 billion by the year 2100, according to the United Nations.

While the growth rates in some Western “developed” countries have slowed somewhat the growth rates in developing countries is increasing rapidly.(Ref, ref).

This growing population is causing a number of stresses around the world.

Earth equivalents

Calculations have shown that it currently takes about 18months to regenerate what we use in one year. This means that we are using up resources faster than they can be grown. We are using timber from forests faster than it can regrow. We are consuming freshwater faster than it can be recycled and we are pushing more green house gases, such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than they can be absorbed by the environment.

In other words it is taking the equivalent of 1.4 planet earths to support the one planet that we have each year. If we all lived like the average American citizen then this figure would be closer to five!

This presents us with a number of challenges

Is there enough food to feed the current population?

Is there enough freshwater to support the human, animal and plant population?

Will there be enough energy to meet the needs of the growing population?

Climate change and Biodiversity

As we consume resources at an ever growing rate this has significant impacts on the natural world.

Some numbers to think about:

Half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1990. What impact has that had on the thousands of animals and plants that lived in those habitats?

The average temperature of the earth has increased by between 0.4 and 0.8 degrees Celsius in the last one hundred years, resulting in global warming and changes across the world.

Although it is difficult to put firm numbers on the number of species we are losing some experts suggest that between 200 and 2000 species may become extinct each year.

Yes, but

There have been changes in the past. Species come and go, temperature goes up and down, atmospheric chemistry changes. However, in the past these changes have happened over a huge timespan; thousands or even tens of thousands of years, not less than a hundred as is happening now.

What / How?

In future blog posts I hope to cover what is causing these effects and explore in more detail how they are impacting on us. I also want to look at what we can do to mitigate or even reverse these changes.

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