Criteria for Determining Earth's Carrying Capacity
The human growth curve in
certainly shows a long lag
phase and a recent sharp turn upward into the exponential growth
phase. Perpetual growth is impossible, at least as long as humans
remain on earth. A key question that remains is how we can determine the carrying capacity of the earth for humans. Also, which
laws, principles, models, or criteria should be employed by mankind in determining the carrying capacity. The easiest path which
demands little technological know-how and decision-making is that
our society reduce its population /pollution to such a low number
that the question "What is the carrying capacity?" becomes moot.
If we reduce our numbers so that we become a part of the ecological steady state, our population and pollution would have an insignificant impact on the natural world. The expanding human population, worldwide famine, and pollution, however, make the issue
of determining the carrying capacity of the earth a crucial one.
The optimum world population, as discussed in previous chapters, in that which is the most favorable level for the maintenance of
stability on our planet. Arriving at the figure for any given period
involves considering the sum of the demands that individual nations make on the environment and how these demands can be met
without degrading or destroying that nation's ecosystems--in other
words, estimating the population /pollution of each nation at the
optimum carrying capacity of its environment.