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Population Growth and the Environment

March 12, 2008 • Daily Email Recap

The global rate of human population growth peaked around 1963, but the number of people living on Earth—and sharing finite resources like water and food—has grown by more than two-thirds since then, topping out at over 6.6 billion today. Human population is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050. Environmentalists don’t dispute that many if not all of the environmental problems—from climate change to species loss to overzealous resource extraction—are either caused or exacerbated by population growth.

“Trends such as the loss of half of the planet’s forests, the depletion of most of its major fisheries, and the alteration of its atmosphere and climate are closely related to the fact that human population expanded from mere millions in prehistoric times to over six billion today,” says Robert Engelman of Population Action International.

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