Over-populationists present assumptions and deeply flawed arguments which ultimately set into motion a number of draconian measures and authoritarian policies. For too many environmentalists the common enemy of humanity is mankind itself.
Carrying capacity (some use the term ecological/carbon footprint) refers to the number of individuals who can be supported in a given bounded area within natural resource limits, and without degrading the natural social, cultural and economic environment for present and future generations. The carrying capacity for any given area is not fixed. It can be altered such as by improved technology. It is very difficult to calculate human carrying capacity. Humans are a complex species with elaborate socuial relationships. We do not reproduce, consume resources, and interact with our living environment uniformly. Carrying capacity is a function of the number of people, the amount of resources each person consumes and the ability of the earth to process all the wastes produced. Sustainability is about finding the balance point among population, consumption, and waste assimilation.
Humans have become one of the world’s only global species by mastering technology. No species has altered the Earth’s natural landscape the way humans have. Time and time again, the human species has overcome scarcity, such as availability of food that limited our population. Much of the world is inadequately fed despite the existence of sufficient resources to provide food in abundance, This is not because of overpopulation or some natural calamity but because of the capitalist system of production for profit. That the natural resources of the Earth and the knowledge and technology can provide an abundance of foodstuffs is a well-established fact.
The resources of the world can provide not only for the whole human numbers as it now is, but also for any conceivable expansion in the population which is likely to occur. Population forecasts can be said to be at best informed guesses, and as consumption under capitalism depends upon the vagaries of the market and the extent to which such competition results in physical conflict, such an estimate can only be very tentative. Nevertheless increases in consumption are historically obvious and present trends have at times caused concern about the ability to meet future needs. Currently food production is believed sufficient to feed 25 billion people and growing. The issue is that in the developing world some 60 percent of production never makes it to the table. Developed nations cut this figure to 30 percent primarily through refrigeration.
To end global poverty we're going to have to carrying on making the best use of the earth's raw materials. Like most things, there's a trade off.
How many times have we heard that we are "using up", "running out" , "reaching the limits" of the world's resources and are "exceeding the carrying capacity" of the planet's ability to bear a bigger population? Mankind's ingenuity and imagination should make us optimistic about the future as it will spawn and innovative opportunities and arrangements of resources which create and generally improve the human condition. Instead of the slogan “Power to the People,” too many in the environmentalist movement carry placards declaring “People Pollute.”