How Many People Can The Planet Hold?

How Many People Can The Planet Hold?

As The World’s Population Continues To Grow, We See The Limitation Of Essential Resources. For This Reason, In Recent Years, There Have Been Many Discussions About The Capacity Of The Planet.

Nearly 8 billion people live on our planet today, but our world has not always been so crowded. Three hundred thousand years ago, when modern humans (Homo sapiens) probably first appeared on Earth, there was a small population of about 10,000 to 100,000.

According to Live Science news agency Joel E. In the beginning, humans were few, says Cohen, director of the Population Laboratory at Rockefeller University and Columbia University in New York City. After the invention of agriculture between 15 and 10 thousand years ago, the planet’s human population reached 1 to 10 million people. It took approximately 35,000 years for the human population to double.

After that, it took 1500 years for the world’s population to double. In the 16th century, the time needed to double the population reached about 300 years. At the beginning of the 19th century, it took only 130 years for the human population on the planet to double.

Between 1930 and 1974, the population of the Earth doubled again. This time, it needed only 44 years to double the world’s population; But should we expect the world’s population to continue growing at this rate?

And is there a maximum capacity for the number of humans living on our planet?

Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist and inventor of the microscope predicted in 1679 that the Earth could hold 13.4 billion people. According to Van Leeuwenhoek’s calculations, the Netherlands constituted one part of the 13,400 parts of the planet’s habitable land. Therefore, you should have multiplied the population of one million people in the Netherlands by 13,400 (the population of the Earth in the 17th century was about 579 million people).

Cohen, who has been researching this field for about 40 years, has reviewed 65 different estimates ranging from a billion people to a trillion people. Scattered estimates of how many people the planet can support have gotten bigger and bigger over time, Cohen explains. For this reason, it should be said that there is not much agreement about the planet’s population.

The number of people that the planet can accommodate is not a fixed number

Engineers initially used the term “board capacity” to describe the cargo a ship could carry. In the 19th century, this term was used in wildlife management. After that, it was the turn of scientists to use this concept in ecology. In ecology, range capacity is the maximum population of an animal species that a habitat can support.

In a habitat, if the birth and death rates are equal, the population remains constant. But environmental changes, such as pollution or disease, can increase or decrease habitat range capacity.

The human population’s range capacity depends on natural limitations and human choices. Natural rules include food shortages and uninhabitable environments. Human options include economic and cultural exchanges such as how to produce and consume goods, birth rate, average life span, and migration.

Birth rate in the world

Over time, more and more countries, upon reaching a particular stage of cultural, social, and economic development, are moving towards the statistics of two children per couple and less than that.

“A combination of survival and reproduction will play an important role in the future of the world’s population,” says Patrick Gerland of the UN Population Center in New York. If we have the ratio of two children per couple, we can imagine a more or less stable population. When we consider a number smaller than two, the population gets smaller.

Now, if you consider a number higher than two and mortality decreases, the population will naturally increase.”

Many low-income countries have high birth rates and large families, but at the same time, they have high infant mortality rates and shorter life expectancies. Garland said: “Over time, more and more countries, reaching a certain stage of cultural, social and economic development, are moving towards two children per couple and less than that.” It means that although the improvement in health care increases the average life expectancy in these countries, on the other hand, the birth rate also decreases.

The world population growth peaked in the 1960s and has followed a slow trend. According to the United Nations Population Center statistics, in 1950, the average birth rate was 5.05 babies per woman. In 2020, this number reached 2.44 babies per woman.

Researchers believe that the world’s population will peak again at the end of this century. According to forecasts, the world population will reach 10.4 billion people in the 2080s and will remain at this point until the year 2100. But Garland emphasizes that these numbers are just speculations by demographers, and the reality could be quite different.

The number of people that the planet can accommodate is not a fixed number. How essential resources are produced and consumed affects what kind of population the environment will have in the future. As Garland says:

“When it comes to capacity, the issue is how [resources] are produced and consumed, and who has access to what resources and how.”

For example, a study conducted in 2017 assumed the vegetarianism of the entire American population. According to the researchers, if all the agricultural lands of America produce human food instead of animal feed, this country will have the capacity to provide food for 350 million more people than its current population.

According to Max Roser, director of Oxford Martin’s global development program, high-income countries where women have access to education and family planning methods have lower birth rates and smaller families than low- and middle-income countries.

In other words, maybe there is a maximum capacity for the number of humans the Earth can handle, but we don’t know what number is. The world’s population varies based on how resources are produced, consumed, and managed.