Final Paper - Joel Avery BISC 102 Holterm Page 68 How Many...

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Joel Avery BISC 102- Holterm Page 68 April 18, 2007 How Many People Can Earth Support? In today’s society, humans constantly use up the Earth’s natural resources. As people waste most notably oil, land, and water, they destroy the natural environment which is crucial to the sustainability of the anthropogenic planet. Our planet has limitations and humans are pushing the boundaries of those limitations. When asked exactly how many people Earth can support, this relies on what humans are willing to accept as their quality of life. Americans have a very high quality of life, higher than any other nation. For the most part, a single American can have the impact of multiple members of other countries in terms of per-capita energy consumption. The fact that our population in the United States is growing so rapidly doesn’t help our situation of using up too many resources. We need to keep the human population under control in order to preserve the sustainability of the Earth in the long run. Our population is growing, food, water, energy and land supply are becoming scarcer, so something needs to be done. The world’s growing population is the primary reason for our threatened planet today. Historians estimate that a total of 50 billion humans have lived on Earth at one time or another. Today during each second, three people are added onto our planet. 1 Over time, this is going to catch up to us. This process can be described through the four stages of human population growth. The first stage includes the first humans until the beginning of agriculture, near the end of the hunter gatherer era. Population density was 1 Brown, Tom. "The Impact of Overpopulation on Our Planet." Kennesaw State University. 10 Apr. 2007 <http://webtech.kennesaw.edu/tbrown/overpopulation.htm>.
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130-162 km² and the total population was less than a few million. Average growth rate during this period of time was .00011%. The second stage began around 6000BC and ended near the 1500AD time period. Population density at the time was 1-2 persons per km². The total population was then up to 500 million and the average growth rate was about .03%. The third stage of human population growth was during the “Machine Age” from 1500-1960. Total human population was now up to 3 billion people while average growth rate was up to .1%. Finally, in the fourth stage, we are currently at a total population of 6 billion people and an average rate of growth of 1.4%. 2 While each stage has had a gradual increase in growth rate, the current increase from stage three to stage four is completely unprecedented. At the beginning of the human race, hunting and gathering kept the populations relatively low as people had to move around a lot. Finally, agriculture started which provided a more reliable food source. Settled villages then began to emerge around the world which increased the population even more. Over time, societies became more advanced. Advances in medicine and sanitation cut down on death rates. The discoveries of the causes of diseases and vaccines to prevent diseases were major factors to push the population higher.
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