New Scientist Opinion: Enough of Us Now

Are we about to reach a Malthusian limit to population growth?

By 2050 there may be about 35 per cent more people on Earth than there are today.

snip:

Nowadays it is understood that the key population-related issue is the destructive pressure human activity is exerting on our life-supportsystems, posing a growing threat to the sustainability of civilisation. Of course, this is not all because of human numbers; it also has to do with how much each of us consumes. That’s why, in our view, the US with its population of over 300 million and high per capita consumption should be seen as Earth’s most overpopulated nation. It is also why the emergence of “new consumers” constitutes a major additional assault on global life-support systems. Moreover, the 2.3 billion people likely to be added to the human population by 2050 will undermine those systems much more seriously than did the previous 2.3 billion, as each additional person will, on average, have to be supported by scarcer, lower-quality resources imposing ever greater environmental costs.

snip:

Yet many people still assume that humanity will easily manage to support more than 9 billion people in 2050 and beyond. Such confidence ignores some grim possibilities. There are only two ways by which population can stop increasing: a falling birth rate or rising death rates. We have already seen a rise in death rates in southern Africa and Russia, and there may well be further increases in death rate ahead, especially as disruption to the global climate increasingly destabilises agricultural systems. Even today, more than a billion people are going hungry.

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