Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Many People Can Earth Sustain?

This spring I ran into the idea that Earth can only support a certain number of people and that, going at the rate the population is increasing, we might reach that number in the next hundred years. An intriguing thought. I haven't researched it at all. Here's one post that talks about different projections for the maximum population the earth could sustain. Let me know if you've found better discussions of this issue.

Anyhow, I thought of this issue when I ran across this passage today about spirits from Jupiter. It supports the idea that a planet can only sustain a certain number of people and talks about how the attitude of the people on the planet significantly affects how many people it can sustain.
[The spirits from Jupiter] declared that the region of the planet where they had lived was inhabited by a large multitude of people, as large as the planet could feed, and that it was fertile, producing an abundance of everything. They also declared that the inhabitants there desired nothing in excess of the necessities of life, and that this was why the multitude of people was so large. (Arcana Coelestia 8116)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

An interesting question, as it seems to me that much of our world economy is based on the premise of unlimited and unfettered growth.

Logically, though, you cannot have unlimited and unfettered growth because there are not unlimited natural and artificial resources.

Eventually growth must stop. And as I understand it, we are actually in a period of population decline worldwide.

That said, it would make sense that the best way to maximize the population of a planet would be if there was no waste -- that is if each took only what he/she needed, rather than what he/she desired.

But hey, that's just me shooting from the hip.

Pearse said...

Never underestimate the ability of human beings to find more uses for few resources, let alone more resources themselves.

derrick said...

Malcolm,

I haven't followed up on the idea, but it is interesting that it seems to say that the region had as many people as the whole planet could sustain. So are there other inhabited regions sustained by resources from the same planet?

By living in a country where first world meets third world on a regular basis, I have begun asking myself the question, what are wants and what are needs. I have come to he conclusion that most of the things I own and spend my money on are wants. I think I come from a culture with a lifestyle addiction. An addiction that is currently sustainable, but for how long I don't know. I do know that I am also currently unwilling to give up my adiction. (Sigh) I guess I am just not spiritual enough yet.

Stephen Muires said...

Every human born is an act of God, it's always within Divine Providence. So there can never be more human beings than the planet can support. The question would suggest a random universe.

There can be suffering because of increased numbers and this can be perceived as "too many" humans.

Anonymous said...

We've reached the current world population through extensive fossil fuel use. What William Catton might call a sort of "ghost acreage". Without a technological deus ex machina (like fusion power), we will need to reduce energy consumption somehow this century.

The question remains whether we will collectively choose to make this reduction a sort of "soft landing", or some sort of crisis.

Anonymous said...

Your first poster, Mr Anonymous hit the nail on the head, inasmuch he alluded to exactly what the U.N. and our Politicians have decided to use as a political agenda that consists of various "grabs". Our private property will be "grabbed" via Cap and Trade and Federal legislation that it imposes. Our land is "grabbed" in the name of bio-diversity and bio-equity. Health care reform is the "body grab", eliminating neonatal critical care and end of life care (via levying huge taxes against medical devices that sustain life and also homeopathic/natural remedies/supplements that might sustain life). So, down a politically driven green rat hole we are being lead. The question is this: is the science that supports the political agenda real, or did the agenda help shape the science? Who do you trust to answer that question the most, Al Gore, or the 31,108 scientists that say it is all a hoax?

Read more at Canadian Free Press:

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/16409

Anonymous said...

Can you remember back about 10 or so years when "global warming" first started getting media hype? Remember how alarmed they were that the Arctic Ice Cap was melting?

Question: Do you remember what the consequence was?

Answer: They said sea levels would rise between 3-6 feet, killing millions! Do you remember this?

Question: If an ice cube weighing 1 ounce was melted, how much would the the water weigh once melted?

Answer: 1 ounce.

Question: If you were to place an ice cube in a glass of water and allow it to melt within that glass of water, would the level of water rise in the glass?

Answer: No. The mass and weight of the ice cube would displace the water in direct proportion to it's weight and mass. The volume of displacement would be identical to the volume of the newly formed water created by the melted ice cube.

The Arctic is a large ice cube, it floats on the ocean. It's displacement is equivalent to it's mass.

Question: Were you alarmed at the time? If most of the world 'bought into' this nonsense, would our politicians continue to lie to us and create an entire agenda around 'climate change' consequences?

So then, what IS the agenda?