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Does the world have a "carrying capacity"?

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Introduction

Does the world have a "carrying capacity"? Throughout human history the growth of the overall population has been significantly small however in more recent times this has changed. The population has grown from around three billion to over 6.4 billion in the last 40 years. When examining the statement "Does the work have a carrying capacity" there are three view points: The optimist, the pessimist and the realist. The main realist's view came from Malthus who stated: "...the population is increasing at an exponential rate...while the limited amount of land available will mean that food supply can only increase at an arithmetic rate... " Therefore we can deduce that there will eventually be a point where population growth will outstrip food supply and we will be unable to grow enough food to feed the population. However at this point famine will set in and the population should drop significantly. This is the idea that Malthus suggested would eventually stop the population from significantly outstripping food supply: natural checks. ...read more.

Middle

Opponents of these less-than-pleasing views suggested that resources are not a fixed quantity but are infact discovered, invented and created by humans. The best known of these is (Ester) Boserup who published 'The Conditions of Agricultural Growth' which stated: "...population pressure is a stimulus for an improvement in agricultural techniques leading to more food being produced." This theory lies predominately with the assumption that human ingenuity will lead to finding new and/or improved ways to produce a greater yield of food coupled with an increased ability to distribute this food. How ever the latter point leads to problems of whether countries can afford to import food and/or, in the case of LEDC's, be able to economically survive without exporting more food than is required to feed the population. However, none of these theories encompass the whole range of possibilities. There may be more (or less) natural disasters in the future. Present data suggests a continual rise over time however the data does consider whether this rise is due to the occurrence of more disasters or just improvements in our abilities to report and record these disasters. ...read more.

Conclusion

Resources also play a part in the capacity of the world. Things such as coal, oil and gas have formed over millions of years and as these run out, hence recycling efforts, they become more valuable and sought after; subsequently wars are fought over resources. However, even though these resources are running out it is in our nature to be 'iron fist' consumerists, we will continue to use these resources in a progressively greater manner pushing the demand for certain 'base' products higher and higher leading to conflict. The fact that they are also unevenly distributed means people are willing to fight each other for access to these resources leading to a increase in crude death rate. In hindsight there is no right or real answer however one thing is certain. The population is rising exponentially and the there is only so much land that we can inhabit and so many resources we can use so unless something is done soon the world's capacity will be continue to be put at an even greater strain. Mark Evans ...read more.

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