Overpopulation “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970's the world will undergo famines-hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate, although many lives could be saved through dramatic programs to “stretch’the carrying capacity of the earth by increasing food production. But these programs will only provide a stay of execution unless they are accompanied by determined and successful efforts at population control.? These words, from Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich;s book
The Population Bomb, predicted a grim future for the world of 1968 when the book was published. Today, the debate rages on about how much life our planet can hold. With world population estimates currently around 5.5 billion, and a projected population of over 10 billion by 2100, the question of resource scarcity is raised. Will there be enough resources to support the exploding population of our planet? Also, is it true that population growth is necessary for economic prosperity, or is it responsible for problems such as hunger and poverty? One of thefirst things that need to be considered in the population debate is the issue of “carrying capacity.? Many different people define carrying capacity in many different ways, and in this lies a major problem.
Basic ecology textbooks define carrying capacity as the number of individuals in a population that the resources of a particular habitat can support. Others define it as the point at which the birth rate is equal to the death rate, while still others define is as the average size of a population that is neither increasing or decreasing. Each different definition of carrying capacity has different arguments for the earth being above or below its carrying capacity, or of having infinite carrying capacity. Also, many other factors must be considered wh…

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