Effects of Overpopulation and Industrialization on the Environment

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Effects of Overpopulation and Industrialization on the Environment

Throughout history, the world’s population has expanded in an extremely exponential fashion-- taking over three million years to achieve a one billion person benchmark, it then only took 130, 30, 15, 12, and 11 years to reach subsequent billions, respectively. (Southwick, 159) Such a massive and still increasing population, combined with the environmentally detrimental repercussions of industrialization (as a result of the need to sustain such a large population), namely pollution from fossil fuels, has begun to take a serious toll on our planet’s ecosystem. Moreover, “some scientists have calculated that an optimal human population on earth in terms of reasonable living standards is no more than 2 billion people.” (Southwick, 161) Already, we are well over this “optimal” population level at more than 6 billion people with projections of growing by another 2 to 4 billion in this century. Still, with the advent of modern technologies, primarily in the areas of medicine and agriculture, humans “have effectively increased the size of the globe over the last two centuries, in terms of the maximum population which it will support.” (Dolan, 58) Nonetheless, in spite of such stark improvements in technological efficiency and capability, the fact remains that one in five people worldwide lives malnourished and without adequate housing. Equally important, and especially pertaining to the topic at hand, is the notion that such overpopulation, in conjunction with industrialization on a global scale, has led to increased emissions of harmful pollutants, some of which can cause ozone depletion and global warming. Global warming, which will be examined shortly, is the phen...

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...nmental salvation and continuity. This transition, led by developed nations, must include a commitment to the efficient research, development, and production of alternate fuel sources—those that are renewable, clean, and cost efficient (ie, hydrogen fuel). Otherwise, the uncertain long run implications of our current excessive consumption patterns may bring about the end of existence, as we know it.


Dolan, Edwin G., "TANSTAAFL: The Economic Strategy for Environmental Crisis" 1974, pp. 55-72.

Ponting, Clive. Chapter 13, "The Second Great Transition," St. Martins Press, NYC, 1991, pp. 288

Southwick, Charles H., "Global Ecology in Human Perspective" Oxford Univ. Press, 1996, pp. 159-182.

Stanitski, C. et al (eds.), Chemistry in Context, Applying Chemistry to Society, Mcgraw-Hill, 2003 Internet 1 (http://cop5.unfccc.int/convkp/begconkp.html)

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