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Ethics, sustainability, and human population overshoot

Peter M.J. Hess, Ph.D.
Peter Hess, Ph.D.
March 8, 2013
Room BMU 204
California State University
Chico, California

A sustainable human population, based on the annual energy input of the sun, is in the range of two-to-five billion people. By this measure, Earth will be catastrophically overpopulated with a projected nine billion humans in 2050. Human demands for energy, water, and food are at the root of habitat loss, species extinction, farmland erosion, depletion of aquifers, ocean acidification, climate change, and the worldwide death of coral reefs. Temporarily maintained by plentiful cheap oil, the human population overshoot will be a significant stumbling block to long-term sustainability. The keys to reaching demographic stability are (1) developing comprehensive education on carrying capacity, (2) fostering cultural and religious leadership on population sustainability, and (3) encouraging replacement-sized families. Nature's minions are famine, resource wars and epidemic disease, and nature always bats last. To preempt these forces, the human community must tackle population issues proactively, employing religious and cultural sensitivity to seek honest and workable solutions.

A talk at the
This Way to Sustainability Conference VIII