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Population Size: Impacts on Resource Consumption

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  • 0:03 Human Population Size
  • 1:05 Impact on Resource Consumption
  • 3:08 Ecological Footprint
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Cunningham

Margaret has taught many Biology and Environmental Science courses and has Master's degrees in Environmental Science and Education.

What are the things you need to survive? Humans all need resources, and in this lesson, we will discuss how the growth of the human population is influencing the natural resources we rely on.

Human Population Size

The human population is constantly growing. Worldwide every second, 2.6 people are being born. To put that into perspective, if it takes you five minutes to watch this lesson, during that time period, over 700 people will be born! Due to this rapid birth rate, as of 2011, the human population exceeded seven billion people! The human population has not always been so large.

Around 10,000 years ago before the invention of agriculture, it is estimated that the human population was only a few million people worldwide. After the invention of agriculture, the human population began to grow slowly until the 1900s, when a rapid increase in the human population began. With increases in technology and medical advancements, the human population was able to reach three billion in the 1960s. Since that time, the population has more than doubled and continues to increase.

Impact on Resource Consumption

Now that you have an idea of how large the human population is and how it has grown, what impact do you think this will have on natural resources? Can the Earth sustain all of these people and supply the resources every person needs to survive?

Due to this increase in the human population, there has been increased pressure on the natural resources that we rely on for survival. Natural resources include a variety of substances and energy sources that we take from the environment and use. They can be divided into renewable and nonrenewable resources.

Renewable natural resources are substances that can be replenished over a period of time, such as sunlight, wind, soil, and timber. On the other hand, nonrenewable natural resources are substances that are in a finite supply and will run out. Nonrenewable resources include minerals, metals, crude oils, natural gas, and coal.

Some nonrenewable metals that are commonly mined and used are iron, aluminum, manganese, copper, chromium, and nickel. Iron is used in the largest quantity of around 740 million metric tons each year and nickel in the lowest quantity of around 0.7 million metric tons. Although the amount of nonrenewable metals varies by type, the majority of all metals are used by the United States, Japan, and Europe.

Due to the increase in the human population, natural resources are being used up at a more rapid rate than in the past. Although renewable natural resources can be replenished, when they are used too rapidly they cannot replenish fast enough to meet the human demand. Even worse, when nonrenewable natural resources are used too rapidly, they are even closer to running out completely and being gone forever.

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