Earth's Carrying Capacity
Is the Earth overpopulated?
• Carrying capacity is the number of organisms an environment (e.g., the Earth) can support
- determined by: food production, living space, waste assimilation, & resource availability
- for humans, carrying capacity can be expanded through advances in agriculture, industry, & medicine
• Some believe Earth's carrying capacity has already been exceeded as illustrated by:
• polluted air
• depleted fisheries
The world's marine catch has increased more than four times in the past 40 years -- from 18.5 million tons in 1950 to 82.5 million tons by 1992. This staggering growth has resulted in overfishing and wasteful, destructive fishing practices worldwide which now threaten the lives of hundreds of millions of people who are vitally dependent on fishing for food and livelihoods. They face resource depletion, competition from industrial and distant water fleets, and loss of access to traditional marine food supplies.
Continued forest loss and degradation will have serious implications at local, regional, and global levels. Exploitation and clearance of natural forests are destroying the environment and way of life for tens of thousands of indigenous people. Disappearing forest cover also represents incalculable losses in biological diversity and ecological services, including nutrient recycling, watershed management, and climate regulation.
Impact of Deforestation:
• species extinction
• denuded landscapes
• global warming
• Others are more optimistic & believe Earth could support many more people:
More people = more productivity = more knowledge = better production methods + discovery of new substitutes, and so on.