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Type: Journal article
Title: Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems
Author: Bradshaw, C.
Brook, B.
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 2014; 111(46):16610-16615
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 0027-8424
Editor: Ehrlich, P.
Statement of
Corey J. A. Bradshaw and Barry W. Brook
Abstract: The inexorable demographic momentum of the global human population is rapidly eroding Earth's life-support system. There are consequently more frequent calls to address environmental problems by advocating further reductions in human fertility. To examine how quickly this could lead to a smaller human population, we used scenario-based matrix modeling to project the global population to the year 2100. Assuming a continuation of current trends in mortality reduction, even a rapid transition to a worldwide one-child policy leads to a population similar to today's by 2100. Even a catastrophic mass mortality event of 2 billion deaths over a hypothetical 5-y window in the mid-21(st) century would still yield around 8.5 billion people by 2100. In the absence of catastrophe or large fertility reductions (to fewer than two children per female worldwide), the greatest threats to ecosystems--as measured by regional projections within the 35 global Biodiversity Hotspots--indicate that Africa and South Asia will experience the greatest human pressures on future ecosystems. Humanity's large demographic momentum means that there are no easy policy levers to change the size of the human population substantially over coming decades, short of extreme and rapid reductions in female fertility; it will take centuries, and the long-term target remains unclear. However, some reduction could be achieved by midcentury and lead to hundreds of millions fewer people to feed. More immediate results for sustainability would emerge from policies and technologies that reverse rising consumption of natural resources.
Keywords: demograph; fertility; catastrophe; war; mortality
Rights: © National Academy of Sciences
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1410465111
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 3
Molecular and Biomedical Science publications

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