Articles

Population growth and earth's human carrying capacity

Science  21 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5222, pp. 341-346
DOI: 10.1126/science.7618100

Abstract

Earth's capacity to support people is determined both by natural constraints and by human choices concerning economics, environment, culture (including values and politics), and demography. Human carrying capacity is therefore dynamic and uncertain. Human choice is not captured by ecological notions of carrying capacity that are appropriate for nonhuman populations. Simple mathematical models of the relation between human population growth and human carrying capacity can account for faster-than-exponential population growth followed by a slowing population growth rate, as observed in recent human history.