Chapter 2: The Ecology of Population Growth
Review Essay by Max Kosusnik
Earth’s population has increased by the billions at rates deemed too quick for us to be capable of controlling. We, as a race, grew to our first billion in 1804. In 1927, only 123 years later, we had reached our second billion. To make matters more substantial, it only took 33 years until we had reached our third billion, in the year 1960. The rate would speed up so much that, on average, every 13 years our world’s population would reach another billion, getting us to 7 billion in 2011.
This fast paced growth comes with many consequences. Human demands will and possibly already have overrun the amount of our ...view middle of the document...
Even with fishing have we created a greater need and demand for seafood. 80 percent of fishing fisheries are being fished upon beyond their sustainable systems. If we overfish, we’d have to result to fish farming. A result to fish farming however would take up more land and water, and some combination of cheap food to feed the fish that are being farmed on. Therefore, a collapsing fishing industry would result in even more stress on the earth’s land and water supplies.
The cycle of human population growth continues even to livestock populations increasing. Especially in places where herding cattle, sheep, and goats is a normal way of living. In Africa, human numbers exploded from 294 million in the year 1961 to just over one billion in 2010, which was joined in by an increase in livestock population from 352 million to 894 million. Livestock increases such as these results in sustainable ecosystems deteriorating. That leads to a loss in vegetation which makes the land weak to soil erosion. This begins a ladder of grassland turning into desert, making locals deprived of a food supply. It is already seen in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and northern China.
Population growth also increases the demand for wood products such as paper, lumber, and firewood. Constant deforestation is exceeding the regenerative capacity of forests. The world’s forests are now losing a net rate of 5.6 million hectares per year. This is effecting countries such as Mauritania’s forested areas. Mauritania has lost nearly all of it’s forestland, now almost treeless. Their ecosystem and food supplies will suffer due to this because now they won’t have trees to sustain life, protect soil, and prevent runoff.
Believe it or not, there is actually some good news in all of this. 44 countries, including nearly all in both Western and Eastern Europe, have reached population stability. Two other regions also are making strides in slowing down population growth. East Asia, which includes Japan, North and South Korea, China, and Taiwan, and in Latin America. Japan’s population growth is already on the decline. The populations of the Koreas and Taiwan are barely increasing. China’s population of 1.35 billion is projected to peak in 2026 at 1.4 billion and start decreasing from there. By 2045, China is expected to have a smaller population than the one it has today. In Latin America, population growth is slowly stabilizing. It’s population of over 600 million is expected to reach 751 million by 2050. That region’s largest country, Brazil, is projected to go from 198 million in 2012 to 223 million in 2050.
The bad news is that nearly all of the main population growth is in developing countries, which are the least able to support...