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What is the reality of human population growth?

Sustainability and population growth

The elephant in the room: how and why population is growing.

The question of sustainable development is fundamentally challenged by human population growth. At the same time, we are failing to address this question at all. One reason for this failure is the sensitivity of most discussions on population control.

The argument that the growth of the human population will eventually overshoot the capacity of the planet to support us all has had plenty of coverage since the Rev Thomas Malthus first raised the issue in 1798.

Spend a few moments watching population changes in a world clock.

Statistical expert Hans Rosling in his TED talk ‘Don’t panic - the facts about population’ challenges the commonly held view of a world split between developed Western countries with high income and small families and under developed countries with low income and large families.

Your task

Watch Hans Rosling’s talk to examine population, population growth, distribution and the factors that influence each of these. Watch up to 29 minutes taking note of key points Rosling makes about:

  • family size

  • why the world population has grown exponentially since the 1960s

  • the predicted number of children as world population continues to grow.

Did any of Rosling’s information surprise you? How did you feel about his presentation? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Sustainability and Development

Deakin University

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Human development at odds with our environment
    Human development at odds with our environment

    Watch an animation to understand climate change and ocean acidification. Examine the ideas of planetary boundaries and planetary squeezes.

  • Wind turbines behind a modern farm with solar panels Group of wind turbines behind a modern farm with solar panels on the roofs, group of cows in the foreground; northern Germany.
    Tomorrow's world

    Investigate the contribution of new and innovative technology to possible futures. Share your research and learn from others via Padlet walls.