Responding to Prompt 2: Malthus

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I do not think we have reached our carrying capacity, but definitely feel we are approaching it. A stable human population for the planet would seem to be one where there is general equality in food and fresh water accessibility for every individual along with little to no strain on other natural resources, and we have far surpassed the point where this could be possible despite our advancements. Humans, whether we recognize it or not, are simply another species in the biosphere. What ultimately distinguishes us from others is technology, which has allowed us to live longer lifespans and have higher standards of living. Advancements in technology have undoubtedly played a role in constantly altering our carrying capacity.

Despite how far humans have come, I feel there is a possibility we may become extinct- not in the next 100 years, but perhaps within 500 years. We can already see actions that are precursors of societal collapse, like those exemplified with the Mayan civilization and Easter Island. The Mayans relied on corn as their major food crop, and deforested much of the land to grow it. We already rely on a few major food crops, most now being genetically modified because we need a larger supply to feed society. Easter Island inhabitants were also wiped out from deforestation and overconsumption of resources.  All over the planet we are seeing cases of overconsumption, deforestation, inequality in lifestyles and accessibility to certain necessities of life. History tells us we may be headed in the wrong direction, and if we aren’t careful, may experience a crash like many human civilizations before us.

Additional sources:
http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html
http://climatechangesciencedigest.blogspot.com/2010/08/easter-island-mayans-and-us.html

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One response »

  1. I really like the parallel you drew between the collapse of the Mayan and Easter Island civilizations and modern society. I agree with you, even while I wish the reality was only a nightmare. We have artificially increased our quality and longevity of life and allowed that to mislead us into thinking we have increased the carrying capacity of the earth. I genuinely believe population growth plays a huge part in the destruction of our society as well. Easter Island inhabitants began the negative feedback loop that led to their destruction as a result of their population growth. The increase in people led the need for more food and resources, which led to deforestation and a decline in those resources, ending in the demise of the civilization. Modern society is also mirroring that path, with the poorest countries housing the majority of the world’s population. The solution to that problem, however, is incredibly complex.

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