Summary: Provides basic information for understanding the dynamics of population growth with an emphasis on global trends. Appropriate population size is often assessed relative to carrying capacity of an ecosystem.
Population changes occur relatively slowly in the time reckoning by which our lives are lead. The subject can be boring and easily neglected. However, population pressure is relentless and is ultimately about humanity itself. Population is no trivial matter, but can be controversial and disturbing. However, population cannot be ignored.
Since the time of Malthus, human well being and the increase in human population have been percieved as inextricably linked. Economic growth has joined with population growth as relentless background pressure that threatens sustainability. Sustainers often neglect population growth since about 94% of this growth occurs in poor nations, thus creating the appearance of blaming poor women of color as the culprits who stress the earth. The emphasis in this study clearly focuses on economic growth, but the increase of about 70 to 80 million more humans cannot be ignored. Paul Ehrlich's famous equation, I=P*C*T, is covered elsewhere in this study.
The limits of population are measured against the important concept of carrying capacity. Ecologists have used the concept as a general tool to reveal the maximum size of a population of herd animals given the biological productivity of a particular area. The highly adaptive human population, engaged in trade and inventing technology, need not necessarily operate in so deterministic a manner. In a closed system, such as Earth, population becomes one factor among many that must be assessed relative to carrying capacity.
Population dynamics underlie many of the phenomena examined as we cover World Sustainability, often remaining in the background. We need an appreciation of the relentless pressure of population growth and the detailed data available.