Minnesotans For Sustainability©
Sustainable Society: A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.
A.D. 2100: Study predicts miserable life
September 30, 1999
One hundred years from now, democratically determined population-control practices and sound resource-management policies could have the planet's 2 billion people thriving in harmony with the environment. Lacking these approaches, a new Cornell study suggests 12 billion miserable humans will suffer a difficult life on Earth by the year 2100.
"Of course, reducing population and using resources wisely will be a challenging task in the coming decades," said David Pimentel, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and lead author of the report titled "Will Limits of the Earth's Resources Control Human Numbers?" in the first issue of the journal Environment, Development and Sustainability.
"It will be much more difficult," Pimentel said, "to survive in a world without voluntary controls on population growth and ever diminishing supplies of the Earth's resources."
Even at a reduced world population of 2 billion in A.D. 2100, life for the average Earth dweller will not be as luxurious as it is for many Americans today. But the lifestyle won't be as wasteful of resources, either, the Cornell ecologist predicts. Some observers are seeing early signs that nature is taking a hand at reducing human populations through malnutrition and disease. According to the report, global climate change is beginning to contribute to the food and disease problems.
"With a democratically determined population policy that respects basic individual rights, with sound resource-use policies, plus the support of science and technology to enhance energy supplies and protect the integrity of the environment," the report concludes, "an optimum population of 2 billion for the Earth can be achieved."
Then the fortunate 2 billion will be free from poverty and starvation, living in an environment capable of sustaining human life with dignity, the report suggests, adding a cautionary note: "We must avoid letting human numbers continue to increase and surpass the limit of Earth's natural resources and forcing natural forces to control our number by disease, malnutrition and violent conflicts over resources."
Among the key points in the report:
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