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Розділ 1 Економіка природокористування І еколого-економічні проблеми

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Розділ 1 Економіка природокористування і еколого-економічні проблеми

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Розділ 1

Економіка природокористування і

еколого-економічні проблеми

УДК 33:502/504

Max M. Tilzer1

Securing the Future of Humanity and Nature:

The Greatest Challenge in History

The increase in man-made adverse effects on environment and society are due to the combination of growing population numbers and rising per-capita resource consumption. As a consequence, the following core-problems of global change can be identified: (1) Anthropogenic climate change,
(2) environmental degradation and loss of biological species, (3) deforestation, (4) soil degradation,
(5) shortage of freshwater supply, (6) shortage of food supply, and (7) shortage of energy supply.

  1. Introduction

Humanity is at the perhaps most critical turning point during its entire history: It is becoming increasingly evident that the Limits to Growth, as predicted by Dennis Meadows in 1972, have been reached2. In absolute numbers, more people are added to the human population than ever. This growth essentially takes place in the lesser developed countries. At the same time, the disparities between the rich countries of the North and the poor countries of the South are rising. The rich nations consume 80% of the world’s resources whereas they comprise only 20% of the world population. Fighting poverty has become a major political objective. The United Nations, in their Millennium Development Goal have pledged to halve poverty in the world by the year 20153. This is laudable, both from a political and an ethical point of view. One suggested way to achieve this is the increase of aid by the wealthy nations to 0.7% of their respective Gross Domestic Products. In essence, realisation of this plan would imply growing per-capita resource consumption in the poor countries at the expense of the rich countries.

In this article it is attempted to analyse the results of the combined effects of world population growth and per-capita resource consumption on the environment and on society. We focus on ecological and demographic aspects. However, this article will not elaborate on the problems arising in industrial countries with declining populations such as Russia, Japan and Germany, mainly because we are mainly concerned with ecological effects. This is not to say that the apparent disparities in economic wealth and demographic development already at present have far-reaching consequences for human society, ranging from mass migrations to international terrorism. The analysis presented here is based on the following basic theses:

  1. The impact of world-wide resource consumption depends on the product human population size multiplied by per capita resource consumption.

  2. The world-wide resource consumption already now exceeds the carrying capacity of the Earth System.

  1. A brief history of human population growth

The first representative of our genus Homo existed from approximately 2.2 to 1.6 million years ago4. Our own species emerged about 150,000 years before present5. All our ancestors lived in East Africa, but frequently migrated to other parts of the world. This behaviour is unique among biological species and had significant impacts on the environment, long before the development of an advanced human civilisation. Early humans were hunters and gatherers, using the living resources made available by the environment6. Human population densities were low until the end of the ice age, ca. 11,000 years ago. It is likely that the subsequent improvement of the climatic conditions led to increasing population sizes which forced our ancestors to settle down, cut forests, and to breed animal and plant species in order to meet their demands for food and other commodities and services. This transition, which marked the onset of the Neolithic, 12,000-9,500 years before present, was the first major turning point in human history. Already this development had significant consequences for biosphere and the climate, however, only on local and regional scales. The stability of the climate that has existed since then allowed the development of human civilisation and culture7. By the time of the birth of Christ, the world population is estimated to have been ca. 300 million. During the centuries that followed, the human population rose only slowly; it is calculated to have doubled in 1,260 years.

The second major turning point in the development of humanity was the ^ Industrial Revolution which was triggered by the invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1767. By 1804, the human population had risen to 1 billion. Already at this time, population growth raised concern. In his “Essay on the Principles of Population” (1798), the British economist Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) suggested that food production will not be able to match exponential world population growth. The development of technology, made possible by the usage of external energy sources, allowed an unprecedented change in the structure of society that was characterised by urbanisation and industrialisation, leading to an overall improvement of living conditions. As a consequence, infant mortality dropped and the average life expectancy increased, whereas birth rates remained high. All of this led to a dramatic rise in population growth. Nevertheless, Thomas Malthus’ predictions did not come true because the technical advances that followed, allowed massive increases in agricultural production, especially of food.8

It took only 123 years for another billion to be added to the world population. As a result of continued affluence and higher education of the European population, birth rates and hence population growth rates dropped sharply at the beginning of the 20th century9. However, population growth remained unchecked in lesser developed countries, where mortality began to drop, but birth rates remained high. By 1960, the world population had reached 3 billion. Around 1970, relative population growth rates had peaked and would have led to a doubling of the world population in only 34 years. In the autumn of 1999, the world population surpassed 6 billion (Fig. 1).

^ Figure 1 – The growth of the human population since the year zero. In absolute numbers,

the annual rate of increase in the size of the world population is high as never before

Currently, the world population increases by 1.24% or 80.2 million people every year, which roughly corresponds to the population of Germany10. At present, over 99% of world population growth takes place in the poor countries, whereas in the wealthy countries of Europe, North America, and Australia, populations are stable or declining. Particularly high population growth rates are observed in Islamic countries11 as well as in some crisis-ridden countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The political consequences of both on the world as a whole are enormous (Table 1).

Table 1 – Examples of some countries

that have the highest relative population growth rates12


Population growth rate

(% per year)

Doubling time








Saudi Arabia









Sierra Leone



World average14



In order to analyse the consequences of population growth for the global environment, absolute growth rates are even more indicative than relative rates of increase (Table 2).

It need not be emphasised that the demographic developments in the most populous countries of the world, China and India, are of prime importance for the world as a whole. It is expected that the population of India will surpass the population of China within the next decades and could reach 2 billion as early as 202015.

  1. ^ The Ecological Footprint as a measure of human resource exploitation

Global environmental impacts caused by humanity are apparent world-wide. They have become noticeable since about 1800 and have led Paul Crutzen to call our age the Anthropocene.16 Human impacts are caused both by resource withdrawals from, and by the deposition of waste products to the environment (Fig. 2). They are dependent on the product of population size multiplied by per-capita resource-consumption. A convenient measure of human resource consumption is the Ecological Footprint. It can be defined as the land and water area that is required to support indefinitely the material standard of living of a given human population, using prevailing technology.17 The consumption of land area includes usage for habitation (urban dwellings), transport (roads, rails, and waterways), agricultural production, industry, and waste disposal.

Table 2 – The most populous countries of the world (as of mid-2005), annual relative growth rates, and resulting annual additions of humans to the world population.(source as for Table 1)



Relative Growth rate (%/year)18

Population growth (millions/year)



























- 0.6

- 0.8620









An important feature of the concept of the Ecological Footprint is that it is based on sustainability22, that is, usage of the resources the environment provides without ecological disruption that would, after some time, render a given area useless. The overall ecological footprint is a function of the magnitude of a population and the intensity of land use.

Figure 2 – Interaction of the Anthroposphere (human civilisation) with the Natural Sphere (biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere) in the global fluxes of matter

Sustainable development is only possible if the capacity of the Natural Sphere to deliver goods, and to absorb human waste, is not exceeded. In strict terms, only renewable resources can be withdrawn in a sustainable fashion for extended periods of time, provided that the rate of withdrawal does not exceed the rate of resource renewal. However, the withdrawal of non-renewable resources that are available far in excess of human demand can also be considered sustainable in the foreseeable future. For most wastes released to the environment, critical loads in principle can be defined that should not be exceeded if environmental degradation is to be prevented. By recycling of waste, the carrying capacity of the Earth system for many goods, both renewable and non-renewable, can be considerably increased (original).

On a global average, the per capita ecological footprint is 2.1 hectares. In developing countries only 1.0 hectare is available per person. In the wealthy industrial nations, almost ten times as much land is used per person (the value for the U.S.A. is 9.6 hectares).

When the ecological footprint of one person is multiplied by the number of people on Earth, striking results emerge that make abundantly clear the present state and future prospects of the global environment: Based on the world average ecological footprint, the overall area that at present can be put to sustainable use is 137 *106 km2, or 90% of the global land area of 148*106 km2. If it is assumed that if the entire world population would consume global resources at the level of the average U.S.-citizen, a total area four times the total combined land area on Earth would be required to meet these demands. Actually, much less land is available to human use because about 15% of the total land area is permanently covered by glacier ice and therefore cannot be utilised at all. Moreover, as much as 30% of the land area is either desert or extremely dry land that can produce only after irrigation. Based on these figures, it is estimated that already by 1978, human population had exceeded Earth’s sustainable capacity. If, as demanded by the Brundtland Report, 12% of all land were set aside for the protection of the natural environment, the global carrying capacity of Earth was already exceeded in 197223.

  1. ^ The Core Problems of Global Change

The concept to quantify the impact of humanity on the global environment by defining the ecological footprint is a convenient measure of the degree to which the carrying capacity of the Earth system for the human population is reached (Fig. 3).

Exceeding the limits of both, sustainable resource use and the uptake capacity of the Natural Sphere for human waste, already now is leading to environmental degradation and to the shortages of resources for humanity. Thereby, a host of problems has arisen, both for the natural environment and for humanity itself.

The core problems of global change include (1) man-made climate change, (2) environmental degradation and loss of biological species, (3) deforestation (3) soil degradation, (5) shortage of freshwater supply, (6) shortage of food supply, and (7) shortage of energy supply.

It is beyond the scope of this article to dwell into problems to any detail. Each of them would require extensive discussion. Let us, therefore, only add a few comments: Problems 1 – 4 are direct consequences of environmental degradation, problems 5 – 7 encompass shortages of essential resources for humanity. I have used the concept of the Ecological Footprint in this article because this measure enables us to immediately grasp the unique character of the current situation for the biosphere as a whole, of which we are an integral part.

^ Figure 3 – Time-course of population growth of organisms ranging from bacteria to human beings (the Logistic Growth Curve)

The current situation is characterised by the fact that for the World as a whole, we have definitely reached the limits to growth. It is frequently argued that repeatedly during history, predictions of imminent doom have later turned out to be unjustified24. Examples are the predictions by Malthus, the Club of Rome, and by Paul Ehrlich25. Most notably, technological innovations in agriculture such as improved irrigation techniques, the development of new fertilisers and pesticides, as well as improved breeding of high-yield and pest-resistant plant crops, have allowed a steady increase in agricultural crop yields beyond imagination26, however, at high environmental cost.

Here we argue that it is utterly irresponsible to maintain that there are no limits to growth. ^ We are living on a planet of finite size, with finite resources, and with a finite capacity to absorb what we produce as waste (Fig. 3). The following facts can be given to illustrate the extent of the Core Problems of Global Change:

  • The observed change of the global climate is mainly caused by the increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide has risen by about one third since 1800 as a consequence of fossil fuel combustion and land-use change. Methane levels have doubled, mainly due to excessive rice-growing and animal farming27. The current temperatures are by far the highest since the year 1000 A.D. Consequences of global climate change include altering weather patterns, sea-level rise, and possibly the more frequent occurrence of natural disasters due to extreme weather events28. Also many ecosystems are affected by global warming29.

  • The loss of biological species caused by the expansion of the human influence on the biosphere has increased manifold above the natural background. Since the total number of biological species is unknown, and much extinction remains unnoticed, it is difficult to estimate the extent of this overall species loss30. Main causes of species loss are the destruction of natural habitats by degradation and conversion for human use, the overexploitation of living resources, the introduction of alien species, and the fragmentation of the landscape. The rate of species loss by some authors is likened to the major mass extinctions during Earth history31. Whereas man-made climate change, at least in principle, could be reversed by eliminating its causes, the loss of biological species is irreversible. The evolution of new species to replace lost ones will take 5-10 million years32.

The rate of growth (r) of populations depends on both, birth and death rates. For reproduction and hence population growth, mainly mortality prior to sexual maturity (infant death) is important. Logistic growth can be expressed by the equation r = (K – N)/K. When resources are in excess, growth occurs exponentially (curve a), provided that birth rates exceed death rates. With increasing population density (N), resources become progressively exhausted and population growth slows down, either by decreased birth rates, increased death rates, or both (curve b). The maximum carrying capacity (K) of a system is reached when the available resources are completely exhausted for the maintenance of the population: Birth rates then are fully matched by mortality. As a rule, the saturation plateau does not persist for long, and the population collapses. Maximum relative growth rates (and maximum sustainable yields) are reached at about half the carrying capacity.

  • Deforestation is the consequence of over-exploitation and improper land management. Since the development of agriculture some 6,000 - 8,000 years ago, about 50% of the world’s forests have been lost. Between 1990 and 1995, primary forests in Africa and Asia have decreased by 0.7%, annually, in South America by 0.5%. In Central America losses were as high as 1.2% per year33. The gravest loss of tropical forest occurs due to slashing and burning by poor peasants who abandon burned plots because loss of primary forest in the Tropics usually does not create arable land after the soil has been eroded and nutrients have been removed. Overexploitation of timber occurs world-wide, mainly in order to obtain cellulose for the manufacture of paper and disposable tissue. Primary forests frequently are replaced by monocultures of rapidly growing species such as Eucalyptus and Pinus radiata. Deforestation is a major cause for the loss of biological species, especially in the tropics34.

  • ^ Soil degradation occurs both in developed and underdeveloped countries. Asia is struck hardest with a share of 40% of the degraded soils world-wide. Overgrazing alone is responsible for 35%, deforestation for 20%, and non-sustainable agriculture for 27% of all degraded soils35. Desertification in dry and semi-arid regions is a widespread phenomenon due to both climate change and non-sustainable use of freshwater resources. Both are leading to sinking groundwater tables. In most cases, soil degradation is irreversible. The gravest consequence of soil degradation undoubtedly is the loss of arable land for food production. Salt accumulation affects 25-40% of all irrigated land and was at least in part responsible for the collapse of ancient cultures such as in Mesopotamia36. In Northern China, groundwater tables have been falling by 1.5 m per year at the beginning of the 1990’s, a trend that continues to the present day with maximum groundwater sinking rates of 2.69 m per year.37

  • Freshwater shortage: Although freshwater is a renewable resource, its supply cannot be increased because we can only use water provided by the hydrological cycle. Hydroelectric dams and irrigation increase water losses due to evaporation, thereby diminishing the availability of freshwater. Desalination of seawater cannot solve the global shortage of freshwater because this process is not feasible on a large scale due to its high energy demands. Only 8% of all freshwater is used in households, but adequate water quality is an important factor for public health. About 1.2 billion people don’t have access to enough drinking water of adequate quality. By water pollution, the quantities of water available for human use are diminished further. About 5 million people die annually due to inadequate freshwater supply38. Freshwater shortage also affects human nutrition because 70% of the freshwater used world-wide is used for irrigation39.

  • ^ Food shortage is closely linked to both soil degradation and freshwater shortage. Although per-capita food supply had improved impressively during the past decades, ca. 800 million people world-wide suffer from starvation. Since the 1990’s, world-wide grain production could no longer keep pace with world population growth40. Only 12% of our nutrition and 20% of our protein comes from aquatic sources. Since 1987, yields of ocean fisheries have levelled off41. In fact, attempts to increase food supply by ocean fisheries and aquaculture are bound to fail because the biological productivity of aquatic habitats per se is less than the productivity of land42. Whereas productivity of land can be markedly increased by nutrient additions, fertilisation of lakes and coastal oceans leads to environmental degradation (eutrophication) and therefore is no suitable strategy for increasing food supply from water.43

  • Energy shortage in the future will be imminent as long as the energy supply overwhelmingly will rely on non-renewable sources. In the year 2000, renewables provided no more than 13.8% of global primary energy world-wide. The combustion of fossil fuel provided 79.4% of the total primary energy, the share of nuclear energy was 6.8%.44 The generation of primary energy is particularly harmful to the environment: Fuel combustion increases atmospheric CO2, thereby enhancing the greenhouse effect. The problem of safe storage of nuclear waste remains unresolved. Also energy supply from renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric power generation causes problems for landscape protection. Because advanced water treatment and agricultural food production are energy-intensive, energy shortage could potentially jeopardise freshwater and food supply in the future.

  1. Survival strategies for humanity and the biosphere

The most recent projections predict a world population of 7.956 millions for the year 2025, and of 9.271 millions for 205045. Both population growth and economic growth will continue to enhance the world-wide ecological footprint. At present, 80% of the human population reside in poor countries where the ecological footprint is below the global average. Simply because of the large numbers of people living in the poor countries, raising their ecological footprint will have unprecedented consequences for the global environment. A case in the point is the current development of the Chinese economy46.

The logistic growth curve shown in Fig. 3 is valid for populations of all organisms, that is, also for the human population. In other words, there is an absolute certainty that, eventually, population growth will come to a halt, even if no measures to curb population growth are taken47. Estimates concerning the maximum attainable population vary widely between 9 and 40 billion48. When the human population will reach the carrying capacity of the Earth, essential resources will become depleted. As a result, living conditions for every single inhabitant, both in rich and in poor countries, will deteriorate. Food and water shortage will become increasingly prevalent; mortality will rise due to famine, pandemics, and civil war. The question to what extent ethnic cleansing and genocide are consequences of overpopulation, is subject to scientific debate. It cannot be discussed here any further since we are mainly concerned with ecological aspects.49 However, it is worth noting that there are few countries in sub-Saharan Africa in which no civil wars are fought, and the tendency towards genocide is rising (Rwanda, and recently the Darfour Region of Sudan).

We are already in the midst of the processes that will eventually lead to a levelling-off of population growth. For example, the mean life expectancy in Southern Africa which between 1990 and 1995 was 62 years has fallen to 48 years between 2000 and 2005. The main reason for this decline is the spread of HIV/AIDS50. Human suffering, poverty and mass unemployment that already now are prevalent in many regions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will increase as long as population growth exceeds economic growth. To escape from this mischief, ever rising numbers of people will attempt to migrate from the poor to the rich countries.

Is there any chance for a solution of the overwhelming multitude of problems our world is facing? The only answer we can give here is that the entire society has to contribute to this challenge. This appears trivial, but nevertheless is an important truth.

It is the task of natural sciences to provide information that would enable us to manage the global environment in a more intelligent fashion. In order to contribute to this goal, the following research priorities can be identified:

  1. to quantify sustainable levels of global resource utilisation,

  2. to define sustainable levels of the global uptake capacity of the environment,

  3. to promote public awareness of the core problems of global change, and

  4. to give advice to the stakeholders and politicians.

The most important overall research task for the scientific community should be to define a desirable Optimum Population Size51 as the ultimate result of these efforts. Estimates should be based on projections of the environmental consequences of different levels of human population density for the natural environment, and of possible repercussions for humanity itself. The obvious conclusion is that the more people in the future will live on Earth, the stronger will be the destruction of the environment and the loss of biodiversity.

The political challenge is considerably greater than the scientific challenge. The ultimate aim of political action should be to achieve the optimal population size for each individual country and for the world as a whole. This requires the definition of desirable conditions under which humans are to live in the future, and which importance is given to nature around us. In essence these are value judgements. Political action should include the following elements:

  1. To curb population growth in the poor countries,

  2. to curb resource consumption in the wealthy countries,

  3. to curb pollution in all countries, and

  4. to re-distribute wealth and resource consumption between the rich and the poor countries with the aim of reducing the world-wide resource exploitation.

To achieve the Millennium Goal of fighting poverty without increasing the overall Ecological Footprint would require to diminish the resource consumption by the wealthy countries to such an extent that the Ecological Footprint of Humanity as a whole not only will not rise any further, but will return to sustainable levels. Since only 20% of the world population live in the wealthy countries of the North, an increase in aid to the developing countries to 0.7% of the respective Gross Domestic Products definitely will be insufficient for achieving this goal. However, even this is highly unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.

The political challenge to solve the problems facing we are facing actually is considerably greater than achieving the Millennium Goal: If we are to prevent the collapse of human civilisation and culture in the near future, the aim must be to halt population growth and to curb world-wide resource consumption before the carrying capacity of our planet is reached. This task is extremely urgent because even if we today would succeed in the implementation of effective measures to drastically cut birth rates in the countries in which it is highest at present, it will take more than one generation to yield noticeable results. Since for decades we have already exceeded the maximum ecological footprint allowing the unharmed survival of humanity and the biosphere, we in the industrial countries of the North must drastically curb our exploitation of the Natural Sphere. Unless humanity as a whole will succeed in both tasks, life for future generations will be miserable, and nature will be reduced to monotony and ugliness.

Ultimately, it will depend on each individual to make his or her own contribution which will be essential to make sure that the generations that will follow us, will be able to live in a hospitable world. Humanity represents the only biological species that is capable of reflecting the consequences of its own actions. This not only gives us superior power over all other beings that share this planet with us, but also a heavy burden of responsibility.

  1. Summary

The increase in man-made adverse effects on environment and society are due to the combination of growing population numbers and rising per-capita resource consumption. As a consequence, the following core-problems of global change can be identified: (1) Anthropogenic climate change, (2) environmental degradation and loss of biological species, (3) deforestation, (4) soil degradation, (5) shortage of freshwater supply, (6) shortage of food supply, and (7) shortage of energy supply. In the near future, global environmental impacts, especially by populous lesser developed countries with rapidly growing populations and economies, will rise dramatically. Science has the obligation to provide necessary information and to develop problem-solving strategies. Sound environmental policy, both at the national and the international level, is required for effective implementation of necessary measures in order to avert or at least minimise the consequences of the above-mentioned core problems. The highest political priority in the wealthy industrial countries is to drastically curb per-capita resource consumption. In the developing world, the highest priority is to slow down and ultimately reverse population growth to sustainable levels.

Received 16.11.2005

Макс М. Тілцер

Актуальні проблеми збільшення населення земної кулі

та збереження природного середовища

В статті розглядаються питання пов’язані із впливом росту населення земної кулі та питання збільшення споживання ресурсів на душу населення. Особлива увага приділяється аналізу демографічних та екологічних факторів, що викликають зміни у природному середовищі та суспільстві.

В статті не розглядаються такі країни як Росія, Японія та Німеччина, де простежується зменшення росту населення, тому що основна увага буде зосереджена на екологічних факторах. В основі цього дослідження два основних положення:

  1. ^ Споживання природних ресурсів напряму залежить від росту населення збільшеного на величину споживання ресурсів на душу населення.

  2. Масштаби споживання природних ресурсів більші за можливості екосистеми земної кулі.

Автор стисло подає динаміку росту населення за останні дві тисячі років та основні періоди його радикального збільшення. Наводяться приклади країн, у яких спостерігаються найбільш високі показники росту населення. Список очолюють такі країни як Китай та Індія. Очікується, що вже у наступні десять років, а саме у 2020 році, населення Індії сягне 2 мільярдів.

В статті аналізуються глобальні екологічні проблеми, викликані саме антропогенним впливом. Серед них зміна клімату, втрата біологічного різноманіття та деградація природного середовища, зникнення лісів, руйнація земель, зменшення водопостачання, зменшення постачання продуктів та скорочення енергоносіїв. Основними причинами забруднення атмосфери та руйнації озонового шару є парниковий ефект.

Сьогоднішня ситуація характеризується тим, що збільшення чисельності населення вже досягло межі. За результатами останніх досліджень вже у 2025 році населення Землі буде дорівнювати 7, 956 мільярдів жителів, а у 2050 нас буде 9, 271 мільярда. Сьогодні 80% населення земної кулі проживає у слаборозвинених бідних країнах. Тенденція до росту чисельності населення буде зберігатися, якщо не вжити певних заходів. Автори вважають, що до таких слід віднести:

  1. Контроль росту населення у бідних країнах.

  2. Зменшення споживання ресурсів у розвинених країнах.

  3. Контроль росту населення у всьому світі.

  4. Перерозподіл доходу між багатими та бідними країнами з метою зменшення антропогенного навантаження на природу та споживання ресурсів.

Ще одне завдання, яке на думку автора доцільно було б зробити полягає у

  1. Визначенні оптимального рівня використання ресурсів.

  2. Визначенні оптимального рівня навантаження на екосистему.

  3. Поінформованості населення щодо глобальних екологічних проблем.

  4. Наданні порад політикам та підприємцям щодо стійкого розвитку.

На думку автора науковці повинні забезпечити максимум інформації щодо існуючих глобальних екологічних проблем та розробити стратегії їх вирішення. Щоб зменшити вплив екодеструктивних факторів, та споживання ресурсів на душу населення, політики зобов’язані розробити стратегії вирішення цих проблем на національному та міжнародному рівні.


І.Б. Дегтярьова

1Max M. Tilzer, Dr., Professor of Aquatic Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Constance, Germany.

© Max M. Tilzer, 2006

2 A sequel to the 1972 classic has been published recently: Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows (2004): Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, Chelsea Green Publishing

3 Sachs, J. 2005: ^ The End of Poverty, Economic Possibilities for our Time, 416 p. – Penguin Press ISBN: 1594200459

4 Homo habilis (the „Turkana Boy“)

5 The most ancient fossils of Homo sapiens are 100,000 years old.

6 It has been argued that elimination by hunting, slightly above the replacement level by reproduction, has led to the slow extinction of the Mammoth in North America after the end of the Ice Age
(P.S. Martin and H.E. Wright, Jr. [eds.].1967 Pleistocene Extinctions: The Search for a Cause, Yale University Press, New Haven, 440 pp.). This hypothesis later has been challenged by the conclusion that rapid climate change at the end of the Ice Age was responsible for the extinction of the mammoths and of other mammal species.

7 Climatic conditions were extremely variable throughout the Pleistocene. Rapid and drastic climate change within decades occurred frequently. One could argue that this prevented the development of human civilisation and culture at an earlier time.

8 Despite of this, accelerated population growth did trigger famines, for example in Ireland, 1845-51. Between 1841 and 1854 the Irish population dropped from 8.2 to 6.5 million. Moreover, large numbers of Europeans emigrated to then only sparsely populated regions of North and South America, Australia, and Southern Africa, thereby relieving the population pressure, however, at the expense of the indigenous populations of the target countries.

9 Already before World War I, this caused major concern in many European countries, mainly among chauvinistic politicians.

10 This means that every single minute, 153 people are added to the world’s population.

11 For example, the population of Saudi Arabia today is eight times higher than it was in 1950.

12 Values are given for mid-2005. Source: World Population Data Sheet, ©2005 Population Reference Bureau, August 2005.

13 Gaza Strip and West Bank. For 2005 the annual growth rate in the Gaza Strip alone is expected to reach 3.77%, the highest in the world (Source: CIA, The World Fact book, August 2005).

14 Value as of August 2005, source: ^ Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevцlkerung, Hannover

15 Gerhard K. Heiling, 1996: World Population Prospects: Analyzing the 1996 UN Population Projections. International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria.

16 Crutzen, P. J. and Stoermer, E.F., 2000: ^ The „Anthropocene“. IGBP Newsletter 41.

17 Wackernagel, M. & Rees, W., 1995: Our ecological footprint: Reducing human impact on the Earth. New Science Publishers, Gabriela Island, BC, and Philadelphia, PA.

18 See footnote 11 on previous page.

19 About half of of the population growth in the U.S. is due to immigration, two thirds of which is originating from Mexico. In 2004 there were 34.2 million foreign-born residents. (Source; Doyle, R., 2005, Coming to America, ^ Scientific American 293, August 2005, p.15).

20 The latest figure (as of October 2005) for the Russian Federation is a population loss of 1 million per year. In addition to low birth rates, declining life expectancy is made respronsible for this trend.

21 Value as of August 2005, source: ^ Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevцlkerung, Hannover

22 The term „sustainability“ (Nachhaltige Entwicklung in German) goes back to the German forest manager Carl von Carlowitz (1645-1714) and initially meant that forest cutting never should exceed replenishment by growth. In the late 20th century, the term “sustainability” was adopted for environmentally sound economic and social development, as spelled out by the Brundtland Report (1987) and during the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) of 1992 which set the foundations for a number of international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol to protect the Earth’s climate in 1997. The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) was negotiated at Rio and went into effect in 1993 under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). The effectiveness of most of these political instruments, however, has been limited.

23 Edward O. Wilson, 2002: ^ The Future of Life. Alfred A. Knopf, distributed by Random House, New York, ISBN 0-679-45078-5, 229 pp.

24 A telling example for this type of argumentation is the scholarly written book by Bjшrn Lomberg (2001): The Skeptical Environmentalist. Measuring the real state of the world, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0 521 80447 7 (hardback), ISBN 0521 01068 3 (paperback). Based on comprehensive statistics the author attempts to belittle a broad range of problems Earth and humanity are facing today. Some of the arguments are easy to counter; others require careful argumentation in order to prove their flaws.

25 Paul R. Ehrlich, 1971: ^ The population bomb. New York: Ballantine Books, 1971

26 Genetic engineering has recently added as powerful tools to increase plant crops (the Green Revolution).

27 The current CO2 partial pressure is probably the highest since 21 million years. Methane is 21 times as effective as a greenhouse gas as is carbon dioxide.

28 In the wake of the recent surge of climate-related natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, it is tempting to conclude that they have increased in frequency. However, it is difficult to prove statistically that extreme weather events have become more abundant, because by definition extreme events are rare. It is evident from statistics, however, that the damage inflicted by natural disasters has risen dramatically because of increased vulnerability, mainly due to increased population densities and intensified land use. Destabilization of the climate due to global warming was suggested as possible threat, but this scenario is less likely, according to more recent predictions (e.g. Ganopolski A. & Rahmstorf, S. 2001.Rapid changes of glacial climate simulated in a coupled climate model. Nature 409:153-158).

29 Recently coral reefs have been affected by bleaching and subsequent death worldwide. A main cause of this phenomenon is the sudden rise of water temperatures (see for example Glynn, P.W., 1996: Coral reef bleaching: facts, hypotheses and implications. Global Change Biology 2: 495-509.)

30 About 1,75 million biological species are known to science. Estimates concerning the total number of extant species range from 3,5 to over 100 million. A value of 13,5 species is considered a good estimate (Gaston, J.J. & Spicer, J.C., 1998: Biodiversity. An Introduction. Blackwell Science Ltd., ISBN 0-623-04953-7, 113 pp.)

31 Richard Leakey, 1995: ^ The Sixth Extinction; Patterns of Life and the Future of Mankind, Doubleday, New York.

32 David M. Raup, 1992: Extinction. Bad Genes or Bad Luck? W.W. Norton & Company, New York, ISBN 0-393-30927-4, 210 pp.

33Source: German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), 1999: ^ Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere, Earth scan, London, ISBN 1 85383 802 0, 451 pp.).

34 Although tropical rainforests only cover 6% of the land surface area, their terrestrial and aquatic habitats host more than 50% (according to other estimates, 70%) of all known biological species (E.O. Wilson, op. cit).

35 Source: German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), 1995: ^ World in Transition: The Threat to Soils, Annual Report 1994 Economica Verlag, Bonn, 252 pages. ISBN 3-87081-055-6

36 Ozturk, M., Ozcelik, H., Sakcali, S.&Guvensen, A., 2004: Land degradation problems in the Euphrates Basins, Turkey, Environmental News, International Society of Environmental Botanists.

37 Zhang Guang-xin & Deng Wei, 2002: ^ Groundwater crisis and sustainable agriculture in Northern China. Waster Engineering & Management 149/4, © 2005 Scranton Gillette Communications.

38 Source: German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), 1999: World in Transition: Ways Towards Sustainable Management of Freshwater Resources. Springer Verlag, Berlin, 1999, ISBN 3-540-64351-6, 392 pp.

39 At present, 40% of all food is produced on irrigated land that comprises 17% of the area used overall for agricultural production. (Source WBGU, see footnote 32). China alone uses 17% of the world’s usable freshwater for irrigation. Losses by evaporation by inefficient ditch irrigation are 50-70 %. (Source; Zhang Guang-xin & Deng Wei, op.cit. see footnote 33). Due to excessive water use for irrigation, the Yellow River (HoangHo) in the North-East of China where 25% of its grain and 14% of its maize is produced, regularly falls dry during summer thereby diminishing agricultural production (E.O. Wilson, op. cit).

40 Source: Agrium Inc. 2004

41 Source: U.S. Global Change Research Information Office, Washington, DC, 1996.

42 Although oceans cover 71% of the total surface of the Earth, its contribution to global net primary production (estimated to be 10.9 billion tonnes of organic carbon per year) is only about 50% (Field, C.B., Behrenfeld, M.J. Randerson, J.T. & Falkowski, P.G., 1998: Primary production of the biosphere: Integrating terrestrial and oceanic components. Science 281: 237-240). Most of the primary production of the ocean is by phytoplankton, microscopic algae floating in the water that cannot be readily eaten or fed to animals like terrestrial plants.

43 Aquaculture, both in marine and freshwater environments either requires large areas when per-area crop yields are kept small, or has negative effects on the environment by releasing fertilizers, antibiotics or pesticides that are required for the maintenance of the communities in high-yield facilities.

44 International Energy Agency, 2002: ^ Renewables in Global Energy Supply. An IEA Fact Sheet. www.iea.org

45 World Population Data Sheet ©2005 Population Reference Bureau, August 2005.

46 The average GDP growth rate in China during the past 27 years has been about 9.4 percent (Source: Embassy of the Peoples‘Republic of China, Washington, D.C.).

47 Only part of the slowing of relative population growth since the 1970’s can be attributed to measures with the aim to curb birth rates, such as in China. Other reasons include ageing of populations, mainly in industrial countries such as Russia, Germany and Japan. World-wide, urbanisation will lead to decreasing birth rates. Main reasons in developing countries are diminished life expectancy as consequences of famine, water shortage and pandemics. These symptoms are particularly evident in vast regions of sub-Saharan Africa and increase in significance in Southeast Asia.

48 The latter figure is completely unrealistic. If humanity would consume all primary production, both on land and at sea, and would only eat vegetarian food, a maximum population of 15-17 billions could be supported (E.O. Wilson, op. cit). At present we use ca. 40% of the world’s primary production for food. If meat or fish are eaten, more primary production (and freshwater) is needed because part of the primary production is lost as we go up in the food chain.

49 Some researchers argue that ethnic and tribal conflicts as well as ideological and religious fundamentalism have a greater potential of promoting genocide than resource depletion due to overpopulation (Elihu D. Richter, Jerusalem, personal communication).

50 AFRICA:HIV/AIDS slows population growth. Integrated Regional Information Network, March 1, 2005, www.aegis.com

51 Daily, G.C., Ehrlich, A.H. & Ehrlich, P.R., 1994: Optimum Population Size. Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 15/6. http://dieoff.org. The authors conclude that the optimum population size should be “somewhere between 1.5 and 2 billion”, a value that was already reached in 1927.

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