Search in Breaking from Mundane

Saturday, February 19

The Crisis Point

                The population of the world in mid-2010 was estimated to be 6,852,472,823 people. According to many projections, this is expected to increase by 150% by 2040. This is very likely true, as populations tend to grow exponentially or at least geometrically.  According to Thomas Malthus’ theoretical scenario, this is very, very bad.

Population of the World, including future estimates
                Malthusians and Neo-Malthusians believe that the resources of the earth increase linearly, basically in the form of an x = y equation. This is pretty much true for water, food, minerals, and such. This puts a bit of a carrying capacity for the earth on how much of a population it can sustain, and, unfortunately, we are moving close to ours. Malthusians believe that because the population graph is increasing exponentially, and resources are increasing only linearly there will come a time when the two lines collide. When they do, there will no longer be enough resources for the population and there will be a mass die-off, the likes of which no one has ever seen. At first this sounds absolutely crazy, but when you think about it, it really is pretty much true, even if we aren’t always increasing exponentially.
What Resources and Population on the same graph MIGHT look like (this is in no way a scientifically accurate line drawn for the resources)
                Population growth graphs are remarkably inaccurate as they don’t take Industrialization into account. How does Industrialization affect population growth? Well, when a country industrializes, its birth rate goes down. Look at the US for instance: our population is currently only growing at 0.9% per year. Countries like Germany, which have been industrialized for a while, actually have more deaths than births. Countries like Kenya however, have huge rates of births and lowering death rates. These are where the huge population growths come from. Because of this, as these countries become more advanced, the population growth will slow dramatically. So many of these projections, that show population growth continuing at the same rate, are likely inaccurate.
                This doesn’t matter to Malthusians though, as they still believe the “Crisis Point”, as it is so-called, is inevitable, and it probably is. Unless, of course, the world population stops growing all together. Technocentrists see another way out though. Technocentrists believe that with technology, the earth can be changed to hold more and more resources in support of the human population. This is also true: during the Green Revolution of 1945, huge amounts of food were produced in extreme excess. Because of this, Technocentrists believe that as long as technology keeps getting better, we will never run out of resources.
                So who’s right? I believe both are. I believe that with technology we will not run out of resources for a long, long, long time. But there has to be an extent to this working. Eventually we will run out of room. Eventually we can no longer build any higher. Eventually we can plow no more land. What then? Well, if population keeps growing, then probably the “Crisis Point” will occur and most of us will die.
                What can we do to stop it? Nothing. There are two possible outcomes: either a mass die-off will occur as Malthusians predict, or all countries will industrialize and population growth will come to a plateau. Either way, I hope I’m not around when the earth gets too crowded.

P.S. I scheduled this to upload at 12:00 today and it didn't. How dissappointing.

Freshman-Level Geography

No comments:

Post a Comment