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(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) The Human Carrying Capacity of Earth The human carrying capacity of the earth is not only a mere concept in the study of populations but also one which carries a whole lot of implications and complications. Information and in-depth study on the human carrying capacity of earth will somehow answer the question ‘why human living standards seem to be getting worse despite the fact that there are numerous efforts of the government at improving human life and existence’…
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Download file to see previous pages For Patricia Muir, the carrying capacity of the earth is the maximum theoretical population size that will remain stable if and only if the supply of resources does not change. However, this is indeed theoretical at best because not only does population size change all the time, but the supply of resources also change independent of population changes. The worst case scenario, therefore, based on Muir’s definition, is that the population size will keep increasing, the supply of resources will keep decreasing, and this will most likely drive the population to instability. Stability, as implied by Muir, is the state where the population may not experience any social or economic problems related to survival and ease of living. Sarah Postel, in her article “Carrying Capacity: Earth’s Bottom Line,” defines carrying capacity in a rather simple way as “the largest number of any given species that a habitat can support indefinitely” (4). There is no idea of stabilization driven at here by Postel, as based on her definition, carrying capacity is simply the capacity of the earth to feed a certain maximum number of people, whether or not this will lead to stability. Nevertheless, the definitions of Muir and Postel are far from the reality of the situation for several other factors that affect carrying capacity are not being considered in their definitions. Based on data from Cornell University, the carrying capacity of the earth is estimated to be 10 to 15 billion people, but estimates since 1679 by Anton van Leeuwhenhoek to the present have varied at the range between 1 billion to over a trillion people. The variations are due to the fact that it is admittedly “difficult to estimate” the human carrying capacity of the earth (The Carrying Capacity). The true reason behind this degree of uncertainty is that the world has been different in different eras in history and humans had different needs and different lifestyles for every part of his history. This is evident during the sudden exponential rise in human population from 1400 to the present while it remained fairly stable centuries before 1400, and no one knows for sure why this happened (Cohen 341). Another reason for the uncertainty in determining the carrying capacity of the earth is that the governments of the world do not exactly know what factors ultimately determine carrying capacity. Among the factors being considered there are food, nutrients, space, technology specifically and the availability of each (The Carrying Capacity). Still, other experts say that the problem is not within the environment but with people’s social, political and economic activities, which are all affected by culture, religion, language, values and ethnicity (Cohen 341). Others like Hardin theorize that the earth actually has its own natural way of correcting its own carrying capacity and the problem is that people’s ethical beliefs, like “Human life is sacred” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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