The Environmental Crisis

By Miguel A. Santos; Randall M. Miller | Go to book overview
Save to active project

4
The Environmental Concern for Overpopulation

Presently, the human population is increasing exponentially at the rate of approximately 1.5 percent annually. If this growth rate were to continue, one can imagine that the sheer mass of all living humans, in a few thousand years, would be greater than the mass of the Earth. In order for the human biomass to mushroom to this level, it would need to devour the Earth itself. Planet Earth is essentially a closed system with respect to matter. There is no transfer of matter between the Earth and its surroundings. Because the number of atoms on Earth is finite, a species grows in biomass at the expense of its surrounding environment by obtaining atoms from the Earth. Consequently, the human biomass can never weigh more than the Earth; unless atoms are obtained from other planets, exponential growth cannot occur on Earth forever.

This population explosion, in many respects, is one of the rudimentary causes of environmental problems. Holding all other variables constant, humans will eventually affect the environment; larger populations will consume enormous quantities of resources and will subsequently generate more pollution. With a zero population growth, society could concentrate on improving environmentally benign technology while raising the quality of goods and services. On the other hand, with an expanding population, society must make use of its resources by providing new goods and services for the growing population. For instance, instead of building factories, resources could be diverted to make the present ones more efficient.

-89-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Environmental Crisis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 254

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?