Population Pressure

Course Directory Glossary

History of Agriculture ] Agriculture in Post War Britain ] [ Population Pressure ] Agricultural Decline ] Land use & production ]

How many people can the Earth support? 

Concern about this issue is certainly not new. Earliest writings about concern for overpopulation are dated to about 1600 BC. Interestingly, many of the earliest writings about overpopulation have centred on the influence of high densities of human populations on the environment, and the continuation of agricultural production. More recently, in the late eighteenth century, Thomas Malthus, predicted that the rate of food production could not match the rate of human reproduction, and that the human population was on course for mass starvation. Agricultural science and innovative practices have kept the Malthusian apocalyptic predictions from becoming reality, but there is as much concern now as ever before as to whether science and technology can maintain the ever-growing human population. 

There are now almost 7 billion people on the earth CLICK HERE for latest population estimates. Questions of poverty, health and wealth generate considerable emotions and often lead to strong convictions about who or what is to blame. Overpopulation is often associated with these issues although other factors often quoted are:


The rapacity of the rich


The ignorance and laziness of the poor


Misguided policies of foreign aid donation


Expense of agricultural development


Investment in military development in countries that are poverty-stricken


Lack of relevance of agricultural research in developed countries etc.

Pause for thought.......List 5 objections people may have to population control?

Urban development 2001 (left) and pre/post war (right)

CLICK HERE for case study of population pressures on the primitive agricultural systems of Bangladesh

The current increase of the earth’s population, in either absolute or relative terms, vastly exceeds the average increases that occurred over much of human history. Whilst there has been population increases in the past, the current population size, and its rate of increase is placing more pressure on the environment.


Source Data: US Census Bureau

Pause for thought.....What conclusions do you draw when comparing the trend in species extinction to the geometric increase in world population?

CLICK HERE  for more detailed account of world population issues

Sign of the times: The shop on the left sells fresh produce 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. The doggy bin is situated on a nature reserve sandwiched between a town centre and an industrial estate.

Pause for thought........Can you suggest an alternative reason as to why more species have been "recorded" extinct in the 20th Century?

[ Back to Subject List 1 ]

History of Agriculture ] Agriculture in Post War Britain ] [ Population Pressure ] Agricultural Decline ] Land use & production ]

Subject 1 ] Subject 2 ] Subject 3 ] Subject 4 ] Subject 5 ] Subject 6 ] Subject 7 ]