World Population Growth

World Population Growth - THE THIRD PLANET E. R. SWANSON...

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THE THIRD PLANET E. R. SWANSON – spring 2009 WORLD POPULATION GROWTH Introduction The topic of natural disasters is separated from the section on natural resources, yet both of these topics have at least one common denominator, they both involve people. People seek out natural resources and natural disasters tend to seek out people. In fact, natural disasters seem to require people. After all, it wouldn’t be much of a disaster if there was no loss of life and no property was damaged. We might want to call it a natural event instead of a disaster. How many people, after all, died in the asteroid impact that ended Mesozoic time? As horrific as this natural event was, not a single person died because no one attended. There would be over six billion casualties if that asteroid struck Earth today because that is the current human population of the planet. The natural event is the same, but humans make it a disaster (that is if we ignore the two thirds of the species on the planet that were extinguished during the end of Mesozoic natural event). Likewise, there was very little need for natural resources when Earth’s human population was small and our species spent their business hours hunting and gathering. Things are very different today because early Homo sapiens’ capacity to gather didn’t even remotely compare to the capacity of one of today’s giant Euclid trucks. We modern humans are probably much more environmentally sensitive than our ancestors ever were, but their numbers and their effect on the environment was relatively small; our environmental impact is huge. It is obvious today that we need more natural resources, but why do we expect to solve shortages in natural resource by trying to find more or alternative resources? Why not just lower the population? Why is it that nobody ever mentions that the rest of the petroleum will last twice as long and our rush hour commute would take half as long if there half as many people and cars? And as for pollution, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the main cause of pollution is polluters. It is obvious today that earthquakes will continue to occur, lightning will periodically strike, and that asteroids will occasionally fall. We have to expect, then, that more people will
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This note was uploaded on 09/09/2009 for the course GEO 301 taught by Professor Long during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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World Population Growth - THE THIRD PLANET E. R. SWANSON...

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