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Is the Earth overpopulated, or will it be soon?

 

With various environmental stresses placed on parts of, or the entire world itself, some may argue that the Earth has reached its limit on human population.  The Earth itself is only so large and has limited resources.  There are various factors to this discussion such as maximum food production capacity, energy and materials consumption, environmental degradation, plant/animal species habitat loss, extinctions, and ecological interdependence to name a few.

 

Gordon River Clearcut

 

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Yes, Earth is overpopulated

Earth is not overpopulated, but it is approaching its limit

Earth is not overpopulated, and no limit can be defined

Food Production

Given current dietary habits, we cannot feed the entire population of 7 billion people.

Food Production

If everyone became a vegetarian, current agriculture production would feed 10 billion people.

Food Production

We do continue to develop new methods for improving agricultural production.  There are lots of opportunities to improve food production if we are willing to adjust habits.

Energy Consumption

We consume far too much energy.  The US contains 5% of the world population and uses 25% of the fossil fuel energy2.  We do not have enough fossil fuels to be able to allow everyone to use that much energy.

Energy Consumption

We can redistribute our energy use to sustain a population, but we have to take into account the limited resources available.

Energy Consumption

With the growth of the renewable energy sector, more and more cheap energy is becoming available all the time in a seemingly limitless way.

Unsustainable Growth

There are various ways in which the current population growth could suddenly collapse.  Global Warming may have already been pushed too far by the current population and environmental impacts that could have catastrophic impact on the population may be unavoidable.  Disease and war are also more likely due to overpopulation and could lead to population collapse.

Unsustainable Growth

There are good signs that we can avoid collapse if only we can stop population growth.

Unsustainable Growth

New innovations continue to develop and the quality of life continues to improve around the world.  So long as we can work together to meet environmental challenges, continue economic growth, and expand the sphere of cooperation and interdependence, we can avoid all methods of population collapse.

 

World Population

Is the Earth overpopulated?

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Undecided
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Yes, Earth is overpopulated
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Earth is not overpopulated, but it is approaching its limit
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Earth is not overpopulated, and no limit can be defined
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References

1.     SciShow: The Science of Overpopulation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD-yN2G5BY0

2.     Worldwatch: The State of Consumption http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810

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