Reflections of a Naturalist: Human Overpopulation

March 28, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Bruce Snyder for this article.  See where you can read all of Roland Clement’s blog entries.

Reflections of a Naturalist

Roland C Clement

Friday, February 18, 2011

Human Overpopulation

Starting from different bases on different continents, and different cultural assumptions, all three major civilizations had nevertheless overpopulated their environments by the turn of the 20th century.

Although biological evolution had given humans a high reproductive potential to compensate for the high mortality of hunter-gatherer life styles for the first 200 millennia, it was the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago that initiated our unbalanced relationship within Nature’s productive systems. Indeed, that is what  Nature is: a set of evolving, mostly living, and interdependent systems and their byproducts.

So long as our numbers and our technologies were modest, we were just one species among many, adding diversity and contributing innovations in the use of the same building blocks that the rest of the life process utilizes to maintain itself, the atoms and molecules.  At first nomadic, our demands were scattered and replenished in a few seasons of vegetative growth. In fact, native vegetation is the mainstay of all higher animal life on planet Earth, hence a principal index to Earth’s carrying capacity for animal populations.

Agriculture is a specialized form of exploitation for seasonal crops grown especially for human use. Such crops therefore contribute much less to the larger biotic community than native plants. Being seasonal, they also induce more erosion. And since we contest the tithe competing insects impose, we end up with impoverished biotic communities, a high price for the maintenance of one species, since we resorted to chemical pollution to do this.

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