The Major Impacts Of Population Growth

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The most obvious issue with seven billion of us here is our profligate consumption of dwindling natural resources and the waste and pollution generated in the process. A recent joint study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Worldwatch Institute found that humans now use 20 percent more renewable resources than can be replaced each year. And while many would say that climate change has eclipsed overpopulation as the major issue of the day, others counter that atmospheric temperatures wouldn’t be growing nearly as much if there weren’t so darn many of us burning so many fossil fuels.

Human population numbers are predicted to trend downward around the world within a few generations. This so-called “demographic transition” is already underway in the U.S. and other developed countries where fertility rates have dropped due to lower infant mortality, increased urbanization and wider access to contraceptives. Given that fertility rates drop as countries develop, and that lesser developed countries have begun to leapfrog ahead in their urbanization and adoption of technology, the United Nations Population Fund predicts that population may peak in the late 21st century and then begin to shrink.

CONTACTS: United Nations Population Fund.

EarthTalk is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E The Environmental Magazine ( Send questions to: Subscribe:; Free Trial Issue:

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  1. While I know the population is still growing, closer to home I have seen the numbers shrinking. I was raised, the oldest of six children, to parents who were from large families as were their parents. My 5 siblings and I have a total combined number of 6 children which averages out to 1 per person. And our offspring are doing likewise. I don’t know or see people around me who are having more than 1 or 2 children, some choosing to have no children.

    I agree it’s a problem with the way we use our natural resources, but in addition to less children I and my children are living in smaller homes, and doing our part to lessen our environmental impact. All this with the hopes that more will follow suit and prevent the disastrous results predicted.

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