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Stabilization of Human Population


The world population is growing because the birth rate exceeds the death rate, so to stabilize the world population either the birth rate needs to drop, or the death rate needs to increase. The most cited reference for population studies is the projections of future population (PDF) made by the Population Division of the United Nations. The UN report projects the world population to eventually stabilize as a result of countries settling in to a birth rate that falls around the replacement level.

A commentary by Stephen Warren in the open access journal Earth’s Future takes the UN report to task for focusing on birth rate. He notes that all species generate offspring in numbers well above the replacement level of two, but you don’t see historically the kind of population growth like you do with humans. He argues that despite all the negative feedback mechanisms on population (such as war and pestilence), it seems that Malthus (PDF) was correct that food supply is the driving factor, and wonders whether it is even possible to stabilize the world population until food production levels off.

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15 Comments on "Stabilization of Human Population"

  1. Lore on Tue, 26th May 2015 4:11 pm 

    Well, we will soon find out how food supply limits population growth as each year the world’s food producers are stressed to meet demand.

    Here in the U.S. A lot of people still don’t have a clue as they are quick to dump the farmer in favor of being able to irrigate their landscaped yards in the desert.

  2. Makati1 on Tue, 26th May 2015 8:55 pm 

    Well, the countries that suffer most will likely NOT be the ones you would first think of. Which ones are most dependent on new seeds from suppliers like Monsanto and their branches? Which onesh ave the most experienced farmers per capita

    “There are over 313,000,000 people living in the United States. Of that population, less than 1% claim farming as an occupation (and about 2% actually live on farms).”

    BTW: Burpee is supplied with much of their seeds, by a Monsanto branch, every year, as are most, if not all, of the other seed sellers, if you research their connections.

    How many have bought ‘seed vaults’ and put them in their closets thinking that they have their future food needs met? Or have not realized that it takes years of failures and trips to the local food market before you can call yourself a successful farmer/gardner? I’m sure the farmer/gardeners here can vouch for that statement. I would estimate that it takes 5-10 years to make a good soil and to learn how to use it sustainably.

    The Ps have about 13% of their population in farming and at least 70% who do some gardening/animal husbandry to supplement their food supply.

    I suspect that diet changes will extend the time before food scarcity becomes a major cause of death. For example, the grains used to raise cattle could feed a billion people easily. The land areas used for grazing could be turned into permaculture farms in most instances, but that requires time and experience and water.

    Only time will tell what will cause the coming human extinction. My current thoughts are a nuclear exchange eventually. THAT is the only way to reduce the world’s population fast enough to make a difference this century. A few hundred million starving every year will not do it.

    Today, about 9,000,000 people starve every year, yet annual population growth is over 9 times that number. And that number is only ~60% of the number of deaths by heart disease/stroke across the planet annually.

    Yes, there is a food problem, but it is only one of many killers riding the Apocalypse horses.

  3. Makati1 on Tue, 26th May 2015 10:42 pm 

    BTW: “Each year 1.3bn tonnes of food are wasted worldwide.” That’s one pound of food, PER DAY, for each of the 7.3 billion humans on the planet.

  4. Harquebus on Wed, 27th May 2015 12:29 am 

    Surplus food is one thing, getting it to where it is needed is another.

  5. Makati1 on Wed, 27th May 2015 6:46 am 

    Harquebus, true, but if they don’t waste, they don’t need to import as much, if anything. Only a few countries are unable to produce enough food for themselves. And they are exporting people to places that can. How many Chinatowns are there in the world? How many India Indians are in the US? How many Latin Americans in the US? How many Africans in the EU? And on and on…

  6. Davy on Wed, 27th May 2015 7:03 am 

    Mak, said “The Ps have about 13% of their population in farming and at least 70% who do some gardening/animal husbandry to supplement their food supply.” Mak this board is not a Philippines travel agency advertising site. You pollute this site with your phony agendist propaganda of justifying a poor move on your part to a country that has 100MIL people living in the space of the state of Arizona. A country with fisheries and forests ecosystem in failure. Your country is at the bottom of the global environmental list. Your country is in a region where over half the global population lives in an area smaller than Russia with 120MIL. This is a catastrophic calamity in the making. You yourself live among 12MIL people in this sea of 100MIL people.

    The US is a continental size country that will be faced with profound issues. Its overpopulated regions will collapse in various ways. The US regions that are unsustainable because of climate, water, and resource will decay quickly. Yet, there is a huge amount of land mass with survival potential. These areas can become the seeds of a rebirth. The US has a favorable climate and is a food producing region. The US could be destroyed by NUK war but in that case your destruction MAK will not be that far off. It will be as miserable as that which awaits the US but just slower. You are not comparing apples to apples Makster by comparing the US to the Philippines. It is a joke and it makes you look like an idiot justifying his idiotic move.

  7. BobInget on Wed, 27th May 2015 6:36 pm 

    Saudi Arabia just may have an answer to overpopulation:

    Saudi Arabia’s implementation of the death penalty has skyrocketed this year, and rights groups are worried about the surge of capital punishment under King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. The nation killed its 88th prisoner on Tuesday, which puts it on pace to nearly double last year’s total number of executions by the end of 2015, according to a tally by Agence France Presse.

    The 2015 total is high for Saudi Arabia, which along with China, Iran, Iraq and the United States ranks among the countries with the most executions each year. Amnesty International estimates the Saudi government executed at least 90 people last year, while Agence France Presse counts 87 killed. The 2014 totals were also up from the preceding year, which recorded over 79 executions, according to Amnesty.

    Most of the executions this year have been carried out under King Salman, who ascended to the throne after the death of former King Abdullah in late January.

    According to Philip Luther of Amnesty International, the unprecedented wave of executions at the beginning of Salman’s reign shows the use of the death penalty is thriving in the kingdom.

    Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law that hands out death sentences, often by beheading, for a range of crimes including adultery, apostasy and even sorcery. Murder and drug crime convictions account for the lion’s share of capital punishment in the nation, according to Agence France Presse.

    The country indeed shows little sign of easing its commitment to the death penalty any time soon, earlier this month posting job openings for eight new executioners.

    Shortly before Salman took power, a secretly filmed video renewed the controversy over capital punishment in the country. Human rights activists posted footage of the execution of a female prisoner on Jan. 12. The woman was convicted of murder, but the footage showed her professing her innocence before being killed in a graphic scene.

    Pikers, Syrian President Assad kills more mothers in an hour then KSA does in a year.

  8. Makati1 on Wed, 27th May 2015 10:56 pm 

    Davy, you advertise the US as a good place to be and better then the Ps. That is YOUR opinion. I am just pointing out that the Ps have pluses the US does not. I made my choice on those pluses, not only on the US’ minuses, which are many.

  9. Davy on Thu, 28th May 2015 6:01 am 

    Mak, I am not in the business of saying one is better than the other. They both have comparative advantages. If I bash the P’s it is in response to your US bashing and glorification of the P’s. I am more interested in how we can help each other with advice, warn each other on dangers, and fascinate ourselves with the unfolding of the most profound event in human history. I am all for US criticism. I criticize the US because it is what my experiences are with. I want the US we once had. This is hard for me to criticize but I do it because it is necessary. Like Ape Man says it goes with the territory.

    I am asking you to tone it down a little. We can do the criticism together. Look how Greg, Ape Man and I work together on the vital US criticism. What disturbs me is your effort to diminish the US and glorify Asia. If you are going to criticize the US keep it to that. I know you are pro Asia but why not mention Asian Faults. Is this request not reasonable for the health of the board for the regulars? We are still going to have tensions but open bloodletting serves no one.

  10. Kenz300 on Thu, 28th May 2015 7:04 am 

    Endless population growth is not sustainable…. it only leads to more poverty, suffering and despair.

    If you can not provide for yourself then you can not provide for a child.

  11. steve on Thu, 28th May 2015 10:07 am 

    I worry a lot about Canada…there are too many people and a short growing season…

  12. Apneaman on Thu, 28th May 2015 2:23 pm 

    Here is something that might “stabilize” the population…….or worse.

    Is the Methane monster about to roar?

  13. Apneaman on Thu, 28th May 2015 2:25 pm 


  14. Apneaman on Thu, 28th May 2015 2:29 pm 

    Meet the Corporate Villains Sponsoring the COP21 Climate Talks

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