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Human Population Growth
Blackboard Class Discussion
Easter Island (Human Population Introduction)
Easter Island and Overpopulation
The Easter Island civilization crash is often used as a model for what might happen to Earth -- if we continue to deplete natural resources on our "space island", like the people on Easter Island depleted their resources. Easter Island had what could be considered an economic crash of their time, due to depleted resources (soil erosion preventing agriculture and lack of trees to build boats). Without trees they could not build boats to escape to other islands to find new resources. Consequently the Easter Island civilization ended with a population crash, since there was not enough food to sustain the population.
So, what has this to do with us? Heard of NASA? Heard of the space program? Without proper resources we will not be able to build spaceships to escape to other planets to find new resources. Consequently human civilization on Earth, as we continue to increase in numbers, might end with a population crash, since there may not be enough food and other resources to sustain the human population.
"The population is booming and Mike Hanauer of Zero Population Growth considers that the world's leading environmental problem. "
Human Population "mini" lecture
text p. 76-77
Look at the various population figures above. Some of these figures are in your textbook -- depending on which textbook you have . Pay special attention to figure 4.17 The estimated numbers have changed during the time between edition 3 and 4 authored by Cunningham, Cunningham, and Saigo (that is not the present book used for the hybrid and online classes). Also compare Table 4.1 (ed.3) above with the same table in almost any present textbook. Any differences? What does it mean?
Present & future growth of the human population (Source: Starr & Taggart; Garret Hardin; online sources as indicated.)
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them:
Family Tree from the Bible
(note that Australopithecus and the Chimpanzee is not part of the tree.)
And Ram begat Amminadab; and Amminadab begat Nahshon, prince of the children of Judah; And Nahshon begat Salma, and Salma begat Boaz, And Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, Ozem the sixth, David the seventh: Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel, three. And Abigail bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite. And Caleb the son of Hezron begat children of Azubah his wife, and of Jerioth: her sons are these; Jesher, and Shobab, and Ardon. And when Azubah was dead, Caleb took unto him Ephrath, which bare him Hur. And Hur begat Uri, and Uri begat Bezaleel...
(1 Chronicles 2:1 -- Genallogy. Unknown author. King james Bible. http://kingjbible.com/1_chronicles/2.htm (January 19, 2008.))
"The human population growth of the last century has been truly phenomenal. It required only 40 years after 1950 for the population to double from 2.5 billion to 5 billion. This doubling time is less than the average human lifetime. The world population passed 6 billion just before the end of the 20th century. Present estimates are for the population to reach 8-12 billion before the end of the 21st century. During each lecture hour, more than 10,000 new people enter the world, a rate of ~3 per second!" (Population Growth over Human History. Unknown author (Allan?). Global Change 2. Winter Schedule of 2008 lectures. University of Michigan. http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange2/current/lectures/human_pop/human_pop.html (January 19, 2008.))
Below is a table illustrating the human population growth, and the time it has taken the population to double in size, from half a million years ago until today, and with projections into the future.
less 1 million
doubling time: 233,333 years
doubling time: 1000 years
doubling time: 123 years
doubling time: 47 years
doubling time: 33 years
doubling time: 37 years
doubling time: 38 years
doubling time: 40 years
doubling time: 40 years?
doubling time: 40 years?
doubling time: 40 years?
doubling time: ?
(Source: modified from Garret Hardin)
We are now going to have some "fun" with numbers. Some hypothetical future population numbers. When Hardin published his book in the 1970, the population growth was faster than it is today. At that point in time Hardin calculated how long it would take to fill the Earth with human bodies.
Even though the population growth has slowed down some, the calculations he did show that unless we can reach zero population growth, or close to it, we will in a very "short historical time" fill up the planet with human bodies. The table will be discussed in class, but if you are in the online class you will have to think about these numbers on your own.
First Hardin calculated how many bodies and how much time if would take to fill all the land -- standing shoulder to shoulder: Standing room only (land areas only). Then he calculated how many bodies and how much time if would take to fill the whole planet -- again standing shoulder to shoulder -- but also including the bottom of the oceans (the Earth is 2/3 ocean): Standing room only (including oceans). And finally he calculated how many bodies and how much time if would take to convert the whole planet to human flesh: All earth converted to human flesh. As you can see in the table, we will not even make it back in time to the birth of Christ before that would happen with the population growth rate of the 1970s. If you click on the "human flesh table" link below you may get some help understanding the numbers...
CONDITION POPULATION TIME DATE REACHED BACKWARD TIME EQUIVALENT DATE
Standing room only (land areas only) 8.27 x 1014615 years2585 A.D. 1355 A.D.
Standing room only (incl. oceans) 28.34 x 1014677 years2647 A.D. 1293 A.D.
All earth converted to human flesh 1.33 x 10231557 years 3527 A.D. 413 A.D.
The population numbers given in Garret Hardin's book has changed slightly since the book was published in 1972. The human population increase is actually slowing down -- some -- due to something we call "environmental resistance" -- as you also could see in the changed in the textbook figure 4.17 as discussed above. The real reason for the mathematical exercise above:
To change peoples "laissez-faire attitude" about population growth (the refusing to face the hard choices we must face to control the human population growth).
Some people think that since it is ridiculous to say that people would ever allow themselves to be packed together like sardines, and that a population problem does not exist.
During the past few centuriescoitus interruptus (withdrawal) has been the most common method of birth control, and today the most single used method of birth control is abortion. (Garret. Chapter Parenthood: Right or Privilege?)
Below are some additional figures from various sources illustration population growth. Look at them and think about what you see. Don't see anything? Hmmm?!
If we say that the population problem does NOT exist, Hardin lists the conclusions as reductio ad absurdum below:
1. Assume that there is no need for change, i.e., that there is no problem with our population growth. 24 BILLION PEOPLE or 48 BILLION PEOPLE -- NO PROBLEM you say!
2. Grant the most unbelievable technological possibilities, e.g., turning rock into food, i.e., NO PROBLEM WITH THE CARRYING CAPACITY.
3. At some time in the future, about six hundred years -- as you can see in the "human flesh table" -- an abrupt change will be forced upon us, i.e., we will have STANDING ROOM ONLY.
4. Refusing to change voluntarily will result in change being forced upon us, i.e., ENVIRONMENTAL RESISTANCE will be OUT OF OUR CONTROL.
A change of our own choosing can be pleasanter than the unavoidable change that will be forced upon us if we refuse to make a choice. Loss of freedom to breed is less horrible than massive death by starvation, epidemics, social chaos, and insanity. (Hardin, 1972)
The end of an orgy... (Principles of sustainability)
We DO have the knowledge & the technology to create an ecologically sustainable human system.
Sustainability key terms:
def. Sustainable agriculture: Agriculture that maintains the integrity of soil and water resources such that it can be continued indefinitely. (Much of modern agriculture is depleting these resources on which it depends.)
def. Sustainable society: A society that functions in a way so as not to deplete energy and material resources on which it depends.
def. Sustainable yields: The taking of a biological resource (e.g., fish or forest) that does not exceed the capacity of the resource to reproduce and replace itself.
def. Sustainable: Something that can be maintained indefinitely without being depleted.
def. First basic principle of ecosystem sustainability: Ecosystems dispose of wastes and replenish nutrients by recycling all elements.
def. Second basic principle of ecosystem sustainability: Ecosystems use sunlight as their source of energy.
def. Third basic principle of ecosystem sustainability: Ecosystems maintain consumer populations at a proper size so that overuse does not occur.
def. Fourth basic principle of ecosystem sustainability: Ecosystems maintain a workable biodiversity.
Principles of sustainability
1. Wastes and nutrients are recycled)
2. Energy source (sunlight)
3. Consumer population level (size so overuse do not occur)
4. Biodiversity (maintained)
No intelligent decision can be made "in economics, politics, or anything else that touches on human welfare", unless the following is taken into account. (Hardin, 1972)
We live in a spaceship. Men can escape from it -- find another planet, but mankind cannot.
The past two hundred years have been an absolutely exceptional period in the million-year history of Homo sapiens. It has been an ORGY of expansion and exploitation of irreplaceable environmental riches.
We are only a few moments away from the end of the orgy...
As a reminder and final word, view the video below. Enjoy!
Remember DumbDumb from the Night at the Museum? Was it maybe dumb-dumb to cut down all those trees just to transport all those moia "DumbDumb" heads? Are humankind doing "dumb-dumb" things to the Earth today? Are you DumbDumb?
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