How many people can the earth sustain comfortably?

Discussion in 'Science and the Universe' started by Vessariò, May 13, 2013.

  1. Vessariò

    Vessariò New Member

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    I was watching this documentary earlier today, which deals with what would happen if the world population suddenly doubled. Granted, the world population won't "suddenly" double, but it is steadily and certainly increasing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf09POJ38C8

    Even in this state, the world has problems with food shortages and in some countries, overcrowding. If the population continues to grow, there will be undoubtedly many environmental effects, as agriculture and industry tries to keep up.

    Would it be ethical to slow the rate of population growth? If so, by what means can we do so?

    Should the current population growth be reduced in order to mitigate certain disasters?

    What population can we live at, which would allow most people on the earth to live comfortably and sustainably?
     
  2. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I didn't watch the documentary, I'm somewhat hesitant to do so when facts are presented by a dark voice with gloom and doom music.

    Your questions as valid though, but I generally think those sorts of restrictions would lead to some rather inhuman conditions in themselves, and would almost certainly only effect poorly educated groups of people. Perhaps ensuring basic education to all would slow down growth.
     
  3. Vessariò

    Vessariò New Member

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    About the documentary, I would have liked it if they had actually interviewed scientists or demographers rather than presenting it in the "mockumentary" format. Some people actually debate whether or not there will be an overpopulation crisis, as the overall birthrate in the world is starting to level off, and may decline. The most "optimistic" estimates actually have the world population declining after topping out in 2050, while others have the population leveling out at 10 billion sometime around 2100.

    One of the reasons they imposed the One Child Policy over in China, as draconian as it may sound, was because they were afraid of overpopulation and overcrowding (though in fairness, it should be noted that only about 1/3 of the population is actually subject to the restriction). Although it does seem a bit harsh, people that defend it say that it has helped to alleviate urban poverty to some degree.

    If we were going to tackle the question in a similar way on a global scale, I suppose we'd have to start in Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa (where birth rates and poverty are high).
     
  4. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if anyone can estimate the ecological effects of something so big and complicated as the earth. But there's only so much space and I find it reasonable to assume that we will reach the limit sooner or alter. If that is the case I don't see a reason to wait with enforcing hash restrictions on our consumption. Not only is there so much we don't need, there's so much of some thing that it's bad for us.

    But I understand why there aren't any restrictions being made, our society revolves around consumption and everything we know would fall apart if we broke the cycle. As if it's a bad thing.

    I don't really see child birth as a human right, but as a responsibility. Not only toward the child pas to the globe at large. But I know it's an extreme view so I don't force my opinion on others.

    This I find problematic. The west meddles to much, by forcing our policies on others we only create friction. Again, I see education as the solution for now.

    But it we never stop it, and the population growth rise exponentially with the out come being famine and disease resulting in a sharp and global population drop, it wouldn't be very unnatural. These things happen in nature all the time with ecological equilibrium settling with time. With luck, the surviving population found their new civilizations with some wisdom.
     
  5. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

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    over population is a serious problem, we are like a plague upon the earth.
     
  6. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    We have problems that confound the situation as well. A fraction of the Earth's population uses a disproportionate amount of resources and causes most of the problems with waste and greenhouse gases. More than just a population problem, and looking at it as just a population problem would be rather simplistic.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    other species, when they overpopulate have internal issues that self regulate them, starvation due to lack of food, killing each other off fighting for resources, close proximity lends to proliferation of deadly viruses...

    We too will cleanse just like the rest of nature....
     
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    Sure, but one difference is that it will be a global event, it won't be comparable to anything we know. I don't think humans will be such a big thing in the scope of this spheres existence, but I think that it's more a matter of faith then science at this point as to what will happen.
     
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    ah....odds are we'll survive....we've had plagues before... they'll wipe out a portion of a continent... or war will...or starvation will...the difference is we care..

    We are humans...we suddenly care about us dying off, it started in the 60's when we, some of us, started to care about what we were extincting, as it was a signal of our own mortality...
     
  10. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    A little more on that, Vessario, if you please.

    Population growth in sections of people that can hardly support or educate the children is a problem as against the problem of small or no population growth among sections which can.
     
  11. Vessariò

    Vessariò New Member

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    I've heard that it only applies to people who live in the city. Ethnic minorities, such as the Tibetans, are also allowed to have more than one child, especially if they live in rural areas.
     
  12. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Search, be your own guru.

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    Thanks for info, Vessario. Yes, these areas can support more people. :)
     
  13. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Reminds me of the song Show Me How to Live -- by Audioslave.
     
  14. Hermes

    Hermes Zos Kia Cultus

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    The moral of the story....Do not have a child if you cannot afford it....
     
  15. The Adept

    The Adept New Member

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    In which region? The green lands or the desert?
    If we plant orchards in our parks then many more yet ' may they be of the upper arch.
     
  16. Lamson

    Lamson New Member

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    This is a question that haunts me.

    Facts:
    my mother was born in 1921 - world population was 1.8 billion. earth population has quadrupled in her lifetime.

    I was born in 1947 - world population was 2.3 billion. the population has tripled in my lifetime.

    My oldest son was born in 1970 - world population was 3.7 billion. the population has nearly doubled in his lifetime.

    my grandson is 8 years old. the population of the United States has increased in his short lifetime by more people than the entire population of the US in the year 1830.

    For doomsdayers there are many possible scenarios. A comet or asteroid strike is possible but not statistically probable. A supervolcano is possible but not statistically probable.............. go down the list.

    There are many ways the earth can come to an end, but most are statistically improbable in our lifetimes.

    Population explosion is another thing entirely. There are currently about 7.25 billion people on earth. At what point can the planet not sustain all we people? I have read a U.N. study giving 20 billion as the maximum number the planet can sustain........ makes no reference to quality of life or anything else,, just sustainability.

    At the rate population has been growing during my lifetime, that 20 billion population will be reached when someone being born now reaches my age (a bit less than 70 years).

    It is a certainty that at some point the earth will not be able to sustain all the people being born onto it. According to my calculations, this point is not way off into the remote future. It may very well be within the lifespan of people walking the earth today.

    Unlike the rest of nature where starvation is a natural control to overpopulation, the development of agriculture has thus far allowed mans exponential population growth with little restriction (not even two world wars slowed us down).

    Food for thought ..... and for prayer for those who believe in it.
     
  17. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Many experts suggest that in the next 50 years humanity will exhaust most natural resources. Maybe a few decades more, maybe not. It isn't a matter of if, just when.

    It won't be the end of humanity but it will likely be the end of most civilized societies.

    Unfortunately, I see no escaping this fate. No one in the industrialized world is willing to downgrade their standard of living. The rest of the world is rapidly catching up and desire the same standard for themselves. It has been estimated that to allow everyone in 2050 the living standards we have today we would need an additional two Earths!

    I figure I may just make it to 2050 before I kick the bucket. Thank the Gods I have no children of my own to be concerned for.
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    We'll meet the demand, eating a soylent green product that is designed for maximum health and profit...everything will be recycled, reused, reincorporated, our waste will feed the bio plants creating algae, synthetic meats, hydro veggies and fruit....
     
  19. The Adept

    The Adept New Member

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    The birth rate is falling or static in western nations.
    Have you no faith in the gods of the Hodotor?
     
  20. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    There is a sliver of hope. Back in the 1980's conventional wisdom was that the world would be facing mass starvation by the year 2000. The numbers don't lie. We could produce so much food for so many people, and there were going to be way more people than that.

    What we could not predict was that science could find a way to grow much more food on the same amount of land. Food production soared and the mass starvation was avoided.

    There is a chance. A chance mind you, that science will again develop new, enhanced and alternate replacements and disaster might be avoided. The sticky in the wicket with this scenario is that we are facing a problem geometrically more complicated than what we faced in the 1980's.

    In the next couple decades we will be seeing a huge surge in global population, while hitting a food shortage again (our ability to grow food will be lessened because of environmental changes), and also a shortage of water, of fossil fuels, plus additional issues with our poisoning of the environment, the increasingly disastrous problems with a global warming trend and all the new problems inherent with that. Much greater number of serious weather events, and those events themselves on average much worse than we have seen up till now.

    Anyone paying the least bit of attention can see that many of these problems are already starting to happen right now, much less a few decades from now. If humanity can muddle through the next 50 years or so, we should be okay for a while thereafter. But it's going to be dicey. Decidedly dicey.
     

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