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But there is Hope for the Eden we Dream of!

But there is Hope for the Eden we Dream of

Nature is Self Regulating and So are We.

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Nature is self regulating, animal populations naturally boom when they first appear until they exceed their available resources. This results in a leveling off, whereby they come into balance with their environment, and can be supported by the system of which they depend, whilst mutually supporting it.

For example if there was a plague of deer, they would eat plants, breed lots, expand the population and then begin to die from starvation because they had eaten away the vegetation, they may also be affected by disease. If there is a population boom of any animal, normally a predator will come in and take advantage (providing it isn’t being controlled by humans) The predator; for example a wolf, will exploit this abundant resource until it becomes over populated as well. The prey population will plummet and the predator or wolf will over take it. Then the wolves will die of starvation and the same factors that caused mortality in the deer. Then the deer will begin to thrive again, this see-sawing of population sizes will occur for sometime until it reaches an equilibrium. Then the plants can regrow and the ecosystem will thrive in harmony and balance. When this stage has been reached the population has reached carrying capacity.

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Carrying capacity growth curves showing exponential growth with time, then population leveling off as it meets carrying capacity due to balanced interaction with resources

The carrying capacity for humans is estimated somewhere around the mark of 4- 16 billion, but of course this is hard to predict as we continuously change the way we interact with our environment.

This theory of carry capacity perhaps puts fear in the hearts of those who realise we are at the top of the food chain, (unless you include parasites), so that leaves us with just killing each other, epidemics, starvation or environmental disasters to bring us to a sustainable population size. However evidence suggests that such destruction and instability result in conditions that result in a growing population for humans!.

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Surprisingly it’s the opposite of what people often think is the solution to overpopulation in the face of limited resources I.e war.

As according to the theory of Demographic Transition, populations get smaller with more food, better health care, urbanisation, access to jobs and education. The conditions that result from destruction cause an absence of these things.

The theory is broken down into five stages as the graph below demonstrates. 

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Wikimedia Commons Demographic transition model showing five stages.

Demographic Transition Stages

Stage one represents a preindustrial society, birth and death rates are high and more or less the same because of limited access to food and health care. The whole world was like this until the 18th century when industrialization appeared.

Stage two represents developing countries, changes in agricultural practices mean a greater availability of food. Changes to public health care mean a lower infant mortality rate. During this period the population size rapidly increases as the birth rate is higher than the death rate.

Some middle eastern countries and many parts of Africa are going through stage one or two so they’re populations are either rapidly growing or they are stable due to a high birth and death rate.

In Stage three birth rates fall due to the availability of contraceptives, urbanisation and education and the provision of  work opportunities for women, there is a loss of value in child labour and child education become the emphasis with increased parental investment in the child, the survival rate is higher and there is less need to produce more children. During the 19th century in europe the birth rate declined despite the fact contraceptives were not available. It is important to note that the birth rate changes fundamentally because of a change in values.

Stage four represents a developed country with both low death rates and low birth rates the population size begins to level and come into balance, some scholars speculate that countries remain here, but others speculate a stage five where by Birth rates may drop well below replacement level, leading to a shrinking population size with an aging demographic. This is apparent in countries such as Germany, Italy, and japan. This is a threat to industries that rely on population growth. Death rates may remain low or increase due to diseases caused by lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, obesity or diabetes. The mortality rate may also increase due to the aging population as the elderly die frequently..

It even looks like the world population is gradually levelling off.

Year Population Yearly % Change
2016 7,432,663,275 1.13 %
2015 7,349,472,099 1.18 %
2010 6,929,725,043 1.23 %
2005 6,519,635,850 1.25 %

Resources are Abundant But Distribution is Uneven!

There is enough food produced to feed all 7, 432 billion of us, we produce 1/3rd to ½ more than we eat and it goes to waste. A 2013 report from the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced remains uneaten.

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Wealth distribution is another strange thing 62%  own as much as the poorest half of the world population. 1% percent own more than the rest of us combined.

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There is enough food and wealth for all but the distribution is uneven.

Human Behaviour be Evolving from Self Imposed Pressure

So it seems as far as material resources are concerned we have everything we need to thrive in peace and balance, however distribution means it is not accessible to all populations. We have no natural predators keeping our numbers down, but we can come into balance and without exhausting our resources; by creating infrastructure that fosters education, health care and empowerment, particularly of women.

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Perhaps the greedy and destructive nature of humanity is a throwback behaviour that is still lingering since before the turn of the 19th Century. Without a natural predator it seems we became our own predator, much in the same way lions will kill lions from other prides. Human behaviour could have evolved to be annihilating of its own species to regulate population size. And thus maintaining demographic transition stage 1 where the birth rate and death rate are more or less the same, as it was throughout the world before the industrial revolution. Now we hold much of the poorer nations and populations in stage 2 (an increasing population size with industrial development), by monopolising the resources that lead to infrastructure that fosters stage 3, 4 and 5 (where birth and death are in balance or leading towards death rates higher than the birth rate resulting in a shrinking population). We seem to be expressing primitive behaviours that are no longer suited to a species with increasing knowledge and opposable thumbs that enable it to materialise its thoughts into the outer world around it.

We have created a new paradigm for ourselves that doesn’t seem to apply to any other species; our survival is dependant on the things we create and how we affect the world as a whole, as this is how far our actions now span. We are less human beings and more often humans doing, creating and manipulating.

With knowledge and power comes increasing responsibility and from responsibility arises the constraints for evolving wisdom.

peaceThe Millenium tree By Josephine Wall

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