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The Growth of the Human Population
- Chris Long
Since the world’s origin, we have seen a steady growth in the worldwide population. From the first records of humans on this earth we have seen the cycle of birth and death. The population increases and decreases are determined by the number of births compared with the number of deaths over the same period. As we will discover, throughout history we have seen many contributing factor to our population fluctuation. Natural disasters along with man-made decisions are two examples of causes for increases or decreases in our population growth. There has also been advancements in technology, medical treatment, and nutrition. We track population growth in two ways. Absolute growth is the difference in population over time. An example of that would be comparing the population in 1961 to the population in 2000. Relative growth is rate or a percentage of the current population.
Starting with the first population tracking which occurred between 2500BC and 2000 BC we see a flat growth rate until around 1000BC. At that time the world’s population rate was around 300 million. From 1000BC to around the year 1750AD we saw a very slow but positive increase in our population. Our population at that time was around 800 million. Until that time our population was keep mainly in check due to the high death rates from plagues, famines and unsanitary living conditions. After the 1750s we saw a faster growth rate and by the year 1950 we had increased our population to 2.5 billion. The population increase from 1950 to 1985 was even faster giving us a population of over 5 billion in 1985. By the year 2000 we were at a population of 6 billion and by the year 2020 we are expected to be a 9 billon.
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As technology has advanced, so has the population. From the creation of tools to the development of agriculture and the later rise of industry, has given additional resources to support an increase in our population growth. With the development of basic technology such as wooden tools for farming or weapons for protection and hunting we began the process of finding better and faster ways with bigger and more advances products. Fire was another advancement , not only could it be used for heat, but light, tool making, and allowed the cooking of food thus reducing some potential life threating disease which came for eating raw meet. Once technology had advanced to the point we could produce enough food and other produces to survive we were able to look at other benefits to advancing the human population such academics. As technology continued to advance we began to see specialize classes emerge. The ability to move to other types of workers such as scribes, metal workers among others helped to create an urban society where people could combine their talents to find even more advanced products to improve people’s and lengthen the lives and increase the population. While it is proven that technology has improved and our lives and contributed to our population growth. In some third world countries there has been a slowing or even a reduction in their population growth. These countries must be brought in line with the industrial countries. The transformation from the industrial age to the information age is just another step forward and in this continues cycle of life.
The advancement in medicine is one of the key reasons we started seeing such a population increase around 1000bc. The ancient Egyptians and Romans were one of the first civilizations the understood the importance of medicine and medical procedures. It is where the first people who treated the ill were called doctors. The first medicines used came for existing plant life. Over many generations families would pass down plants that they would us to treat certain wounds or illnesses. While no one truly understood why such herbals would work they were grateful they did. As we continued to advance in the creation of medicines and the development of medical procedures we saw an increase in the life expectancy of our older population. While many of the first medical procedure were trial and error it was a learning experience that helped to identify better procedures. Over the thousands of years many new medicine were created such as vaccines for polio and many other disease that before the vaccine would have truly mend death to the patient. As medical procedures advance so do deadly illnesses such as AID and cancer. We have made great strides in medicine and medical procedures which has helped the population growth by people living longer and more babies and mothers surviving child birth. Even with all the advances in medicine we still have some countries that have seen a slowing or even a reduction in their population growth.
As our world progressed through out the thousands of years many different cultures were formed. Because of the advancements in transportation different cultures began migrating to trade products and to exchange ideals. It was during this change in ideas where we able to blend cultures and learn from each other. The technology of one culture was shared with another thus advancing the world and improving the lives of all. This caused the population grow and structures to be created that help keep order and bring laws thus reducing wars. It also helped to identify what land belonged to whom and ensured that those boundaries were respected. Cultures differences could also have a negative impact on the population. If a culture for example has a belief that a medical procedure is wrong or a certain food is forbidden then that could affect the health of their people thus shorting their lives. If a culture has no control of their population growth such as family planning and does not have the infrastructure to support the nutritional needs then the death rate will increase causing their population to fall.
During the 20th century the world population grew at an unprecedented pace. This was mainly due to the advancement in crop production plus the better understanding of how certain food affect the human body. The better someone eats the better chance they have of living longer. Well-nourished mothers are more likely to produce health babies and help to ensure the health of the mother. There are many form of nutrition, certain food are better for you than others vitamins are another good source of nutrition. While many countries have benefited from all these nutritional advancements we still have countries that are see a reduction in their population because of the lack of food needed to maintain their current population.
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While the world’s population has continues to grow we have a limited environment and we must ensure that it is able to supply the world’s food, shelter, water and energy for all our population now and in the future. We have the ability to measure the impact our growth in population is having on our environment and assess the global resources needed to support that population in the future. It is proven that if we continue to grow our population at the rate we are going and do not make changes in the way we are treating our environment we will destroy the world we live in. While all countries use the earth’s natural resources to live the larger developed countries do the most damage to our environment. When we start to see developing nation get richer we will see a much bigger impact to the environment that is already at its maximum capacity. As our population continues to grow we must consider the carrying capacity. Historically human population control was used to increase the world population by improving the conditions in which we live. The exception is China where due to their population issue they have implemented a one child per household policy. The world’s population has grown to the point that we must take action if we expect to survive.
We have review the population growth over the life of the earth and discuss many factors that had a positive and negative impact on that growth. Factors such as advancement in technology, the discovery and advancement in medicine and medical procedures, along with cultural and nutritional factors that have contributed to lengthening of lives. We also noted the impact the population growth has had on our environment and what need to be done to control our population in the future so we can ensure that we do not destroy our natural resources need to survive. As we continue to address the environmental issues we are currently encountering we must keep in mind not only how our current population is contributing to the problem but try and find a solution that will also address our future population. This is a global problem and we must address it as such. The United Nations must work to establish environmental rules that all countries must follow.
Rich. C, (2011): The Technological Influence on Population Growth Trends Retrieved from: http://rcantrell38.blogspot.com/2011/12/technological-influence-on-population.html
Gee. E, (ND): Population Growth Retrieved from http://www.deathreference.com/Nu-Pu/Population-Growth.html
Author Unknown, (ND): Human Impact on the Environment & Environmental Impact on Humans Retrieved from:
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