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Unformatted text preview: Population Bomb or The Ultimate Resource?
An Inquiry Concerning Human Population Growth and Earth's Global Carrying Capacity By Eli Wiberg and Ray Gonzalez The Basics What do we mean by "earth's human carrying capacity?" Although...There is much debate over earth's actual carrying capacity and if we as a population have already exceeded or have yet to reach it. Humans have found ways around barriers that would naturally limit its population. 1.) The globalization of food resources. Food can be imported to arid regions of the world. 2.) Advancements in bio technology a. The "Green Revolution" 1960's pesticides developed by Dr Norman Borlaug which greatly increased crop yields and prevented mass famine in underdeveloped countries. b. Currently, Genetically Altered Organisms. The process of altering a plants DNA to obtain desirable pest/disease resistance. 3.) Advancements in regular technology! a. The Industrial Revolution sparked the rapid growth of the human population. a1. Revolution created wages, money allowed more purchasing power, families no longer had to work on farms to make a living. a2. Large families b. Industrialized nations were able to discover and manufacture new medicines, essential doubling the existing life expectancy. It is the maximum number of individuals that a given environment can support without detrimental effects. NOVA Population Demonstration An Essay on the Principle of Population Written by Thomas Robert Malthus Was the first major work dedicated to the uncertainties of overpopulation and its consequences. Malthus relied heavily on his own ideas to formulate his argument but drew from the work of several authors Malthus' purpose in writing Principles was to... David Hume ( 1711 1776, A British empiricist ) Alfred Wallace ( 1823 1913, A contemporary of Charles Darwin ), Adam Smith ( 1723 1790, Scottish economist. Wrote Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations ) Richard Price ( 1723 1791, Unitarian, wrote Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of War with America (1776) ) 1. Investigate the causes that have, until now, slowed the progress of mankind towards happiness; and 2. Examine the probability of the total of partial removal of these same causes in the future Specifically... Book I Of the checks to population in the less civilized parts of the world and in past times. Book II Of the checks to population in the different states of modern Europe. Book III Of the different systems or expedients which have been proposed or have prevailed in society, as they affect the evils arising from the principle of population. Book IV Of our future prospects respecting the removal of mitigation of the evils arising from the principle of population. Causing Factors of the Population Explosion There are many contributing factors to the increasing size of the human population, and most of these factors have been in some, way, shape, or form the result of technology. It wasn't until the great industrial revolution occurred that both humans and their advanced technology began to greatly increase (see graph of notes). As the human population continues to grow exponentially, so does the human ability to be able to both create new and also improve on existing technologies. In fact this relationship can be seen as a direct relationship. It is this direct relationship between technology and population growth that have economist's such as Julian L. Simon arguing that human technology will eventually be able to overcome the human overpopulation problem. Technology has not only increased the average life expectancy of the human race but it also has enabled people to live nearly anywhere on the planet. As Julian Simon states "The most important and amazing demographic fact--the greatest human achievement in history, in my view--is the decrease in the world's death rate" (2). Simon also points out that since 1750 the average life expectancy in the richer countries has jumped from less than 30 years to about 75 years. This ability for people to live longer can be greatly accredited to the mass amounts of medicines and vaccines that have been produced because of human technology. Medicines of today's day and age not only can cure diseases that surly would have caused death 100 years ago but also can prevent people from ever receiving diseases in the first place. Another form of technology that has been a main cause of the exponential population growth is the ability to transport both supplies and people, to almost any place on the planet. With the ability to transport food amongst other supplies almost anywhere, the people of today can comfortably inhabit many places on the planet that weren't even imaginable less then 200 years ago. With the ability to transport both food and water to even the most desolate of places on earth you will see from the following graph how people have began to colonize almost everywhere on planet earth. As the world population continued to increase throughout the 1900s, it became more realized that the world's population was growing faster than was that of its food source. Once again though, technology stepped in to increase the production of food sources around the world in order to sustain the earth's population. Thus in 1960, the "green revolution" was born. "The Green Revolution is the increase in food production stemming from the improved genetic strains of wheat, rice, maize and other cereals in the 1960s" (wikipedia). With this new biotechnology of being able to produce more food that is both cheaper and faster to produce, people can now produce enough food that will sustain the growing world population. The technology used to create food yielding plants is not the only form of biotechnology that is being used to benefit humans. The ability to now be able to genetically alter plant genes has also been of benefit in that scientists are now "designing" plants with the desired character traits such as resistance against deadly plant diseases and also natural pesticides in order to repel the pests that feed on these plants. This new biotechnology has now given humans the ability to grow high yielding food crops that are both quick to grow and relatively safe from the pests that normally like to eat them. More Causing Factors of the Population Explosion genetically engineered> Future peach and apple > wheat plants > orchards > Paul R. Ehrlich Paul R. Ehrlich is both a biologist and a professor of Stanford University. As a biologist and an economist he was awarded the ECI prize in 1993 for his fundamental contributions to the study of population biology utilizing butterflies as a model system. In his book "One with Nineveh" Ehrlich poses the question "Will civilization be able to provide sufficient food and meet basic needs for every human being in the future?" (43). Ehrlich believes that the exponential growth of the human population will eventually surpass the amount of resources needed to sustain it. In 1995, Ehrlich and his colleague Gretchen Daily gave a tour for Stanford University alumni, in order to introduce them to some of the environmental issues of the western Indian Ocean. One of the islands they visited was Anjouan island (part of the Comoros Islands); "despite it's appearances Anjouan was no paradise. Along with some of the other Comoros Islands, it was a society that had overshot the ability of its environment to sustain it" (Ehrlich 76). According to Ehrlich, the Anjouan's, have less than one-twentieth the affluence of Americans and yet their nation is averaging nearly seven children per family. Also the entire Comoros nation which now consists of 600,000 residents, is projected to increase to 1.8 million. Also according to Ehrlich the children of Anjouan (most who showed signs of malnutrition) are happy if they get to eat rice once every two weeks. Overpopulation is the greatest contributing factor to the ecocatastrophe that has occurred in the Comoros Islands and as Ehrlich states "Population is a nearly ubiquitous, but all too often ignored, driver of environmental and social problems" (79). Ultimately Paul Ehrlich's study on the Comoros Islands has shown the combined effects of both overpopulation and the factor of limited resources on the people of the Comoros Islands nation. At the projected population growth of the human population in the future, Ehrlich's study of the Comoros Islands, amongst other studies, has led him to believe that the world's entire population will eventually reach the point of the ecocatastrophe that has occurred in Anjouan Island. And unless something is done to change the growth of the human population, human life as we know it will eventually take a huge turn for the worse. Julian L. Simon
As an economist, Julian L. Simon holds a totally different view over human population growth then does Paul Ehrlich. Simon strongly believes that population growth has little if any affect on economic development and that resulting from a growing population will be increasing advanced technologies that will eventually overcome overpopulation. And to back his point of view Simon states "Go to the nearest library and check the Census Bureau's data on the measures of human welfare that depend on physical resources: Food production per person. Availability of natural resources as measured by prices. Cleanliness of the air we breathe and the water we drink in the U.S. Space per person in our homes. Most important, check the length of life and incidence of death. Every measure shows improvement rather than the deterioration that the Ehrlichs claim has occurred. Happily, every dramatic forecast by the Ehrlichs, who both teach at Stanford, and the other doomsayers has turned out wrong. The U.S. famine deaths they predicted we would see on television never occurred. The Great Lakes are better than ever for sport fishing. The main pollutants, such as particulates and sulfur dioxide, have diminished. Metals, foods, and other natural resources have continued to become more available rather than more scarce" (Simon). According to Julian Simon, population growth should not be a negative economic issue because it does not effect either economic growth nor the limitability of exhaustible resources. Simon actually views population growth as a good thing rather than a bad one as he states that "The increase in the world's population represents our victory over death" (Simon). Ultimately, according to Simon's view of population growth, with more people there will come an increase in technology and intelligence that will surpass any economic problems caused by future overpopulation. He also believes that the continuing population bomb of today is actually better for developing countries economies and that the views of people such as Paul Ehrlich should not In 1980, Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich decided to place a wager using 5 different types of metals in order to determine whether the earths natural resources were becoming increasingly depleted. "Ehrlich had been predicting massive shortages in various natural resources for decades, while Simon claimed natural resources were infinite" (Carnell). The terms of the bet were that Ehrlich got to pick 5 different types of metals all worth 1000 pounds. If in 1990 these metals were worth more than $1000 after inflation then Ehrlich would win the bet and get paid the total change of price of the metals. Vice versa would occur if the meals were worth less than $1000 making Simon the winner of the bet. Using copper, chrome, nickel, tin, and tungsten as the five different types of metals, Ehrlich lost the bet in 1990 with all five metals below their inflationadjusted price levels in 1980 (explain graph). Simon Vs. Ehrlich The Bet
1980 price (1980 dollars) 1990 price (1980 dollars) Percenta ge change Copper (195.56 lbs.) Chrome (51.28 lbs.) Nickel (63.52 lbs.) Tin (229.1 lbs.)
Tungsten (13.64 lbs.) $200 $200 $200 $200 $200 $163 $120 $193 -18.5% -40% -3.5% -72% -57% Ehrlich paid Simon $576.07 and as stated in Paul Ehrlich's book "Betrayal of Science and reason: How anti-rhetoric threatens our future": "Paul [Ehrlich] and other scientists knew that the five metals in the proposed wagers were not critical indicators and said so at the time ... Nonetheless, after consulting with many colleagues, Paul ... accepted Simon's challenge ... rather than listen to him charge that environmental scientists were unwilling to put their money where their mouths were" (Carnell). The bet was never proved to show conclusive results for either party of the bet due to the fact that there were too many other factors that influenced the prices of the metals. "Both Simon and Ehrlich offered new criteria for a second bet, but were unable to agree on any terms before Simon's death in 1997" (Carnell). Julian Simon's Bet With Paul Ehrlich here are some of the terms! $56 $86 Bacteria Natural growth curves in nature graph What needs to be done
Overpopulation is a major economic issue no matter which way you look at it. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/28/2008 for the course BIOLOGY 102 taught by Professor Swanson during the Spring '08 term at Ithaca College.
- Spring '08
- An Essay on the Principle of Population