Question Tom Social Sciences

Human Population Growth

Has human population growth exceeded the earth's carrying capacity?

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Answer Internal Staff

Human overpopulation is where the human population exceeds the capacity of the Earth. In recent years the alarming rate of growth within the human population (1 billion people in 1800 to over 7 billion today) has led to a great deal of academic research in the area. Varying estimates have put the human capacity of the planet in between the ranges of 4 billion and 16 billion, this would mean that a number of academics believe we have actually already exceeded the earth’s capacity and we are now in a period of unsustainability that will cripple the earth’s natural resources, especially if the population continues its trend of exponential growth with forecasts suggesting the planet could pass the 10 billion mark by 2050. This rapid period of population growth is already having a massive impact of the planets natural resources; we are seeing forests being cut down at an alarming rate, an estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost every year. As well as this the excessive use of fossil fuels has had serious impacts on the environment. The climate change resulting from this has resulted in melting a large percentage of the polar ice caps, holes in the ozone layer and increases in the global temperature, all things that could threaten the human race if they are not addressed. As well as this we have reached a point where humans are dominating the planet to such an extent that numerous animal species are becoming extinct, the current rate of extinction is 100 extinctions per million species per year, this is approximately 100 times higher than the natural background rate that was the norm before humanities dominance.

In conclusion it is evident that the current population growth is having a negative impact on the planet and while it is disputed as to whether we have reached the planets true limit it is clear humanities impact is causing irreversible damage to the planet and its inhabitants.