Population control may not be enough to conserve resources vital to global survival, according to a new study.
Population growth is continuing at an increasing rate, straining the environment. If resources cannot be managed by reducing the number of humans, then use of these goods must be curtailed, researchers stated. They also recommended increased recycling to decrease reliance on original materials.
Researchers used simulations to model human populations, providing the computer with several scenarios. They found that even significant changes would still result in an unsustainable population. Simulations showed that the global human population, even following a massive war or a global one-child policy would be between five and 10 billion people in 2100. Today, there are close to 7.3 billion humans around the globe.
Population growth is reduced by family planning centers, as well as education. Continued efforts on these fronts should continue, according to the study.
"Global population has risen so fast over the past century that roughly 14% of all the human beings that have ever existed are still alive today - that's a sobering statistic. This is considered unsustainable for a range of reasons, not least being able to feed everyone as well as the impact on the climate and environment," Corey Bradshaw of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, said.
The number of humans on the planet has increased at an accelerating rate since the Great Famine and Black Death ended in 1350. At that time, there were almost 370 million people on the planet. Populations reached one billion humans for the first time in 1804. In 1923, there were two billion people on Earth. Despite tens of millions of deaths in World War Two, three billion people were alive in 1960. That number passed seven billion in March 2012.
"We were surprised that a five-year WWIII scenario mimicking the same proportion of people killed in the First and Second World Wars combined, barely registered a blip on the human population trajectory this century," Barry Brook, chairperson of climate change for the Environment Institute, told the press.
The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, scholar and cleric in England in the late 1700s, became best-known for his prediction that the world would soon run out of food, due to rising population. His investigation, which predicted widespread famines and deaths, was averted due to improved farming techniques and methods of food distribution.
Investigation into the loss of global resources and the effect of population control on those challenges was detailed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.