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Future Human Population Growth

The Green Revolution allowed population to grow extremely large; growth in the future may depend on new advances.

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Past, Present, Future

Past, Present, Future

Credit: NASA
Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82417&src=eoa-iotd
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

New York City has 8.3 million residents and a population density of 27,000 per square mile. But it’s not space that will keep the human population in check.

Why It Matters

  • Space is not the problem with human population; other resources – food, clean water, clean air – are more difficult to obtain.
  • Thomas Malthus observed that human populations grow exponentially; the ability to provide food only grows linearly. The end result will be starvation.
  • People need air, water and food. Wealthy people consume much more than that.
  • The world’s combined food output could feed about 11 billion people, yet about 1 billion are hungry.
  • The population is growing in poorer countries; many wealthy countries are having a population decrease.
  • Credit: Miguel Contreras, Guatemala
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Countries_by_population_density.svg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Population density around the world (darker colors indicate higher density) - 2007 [Figure2]


Show What You Know

With the link below, learn more about overpopulation. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What did Thomas Malthus say would happen when the human population grew too high?
  2. What kept Malthus’ prediction from coming true so far and how did it work?
  3. One reason there are so many people alive now is that births exceed deaths by quite a bit. What is the other?
  4. Why can we grow food for 11 billion, we have 7 billion, but still 1 billion are hungry?
  5. For what reasons does Hank Green propose that there could be a global insurrection?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=82417&src=eoa-iotd; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Miguel Contreras, Guatemala; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Countries_by_population_density.svg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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