World Populations and Development


1.) The Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions

The two changes in the use of the earth\'s resources that had the greatest effect
on the world population were the neolithic and the industrial revolutions.

The neolithic revolution (a.k.a. agricultural revolution) was a change in the
way of life of our ancestors. It took place about 8000 years ago among various
tribes in Asia and the Middle East. It included a transition from foraging and
hunting to the domestication of animals (most probably starting with the dog)
and to farming. Tribes settled in fertile areas and formed agricultural
communities many of which grew into villages and cities. This relatively stable
way of life and the more reliable food supply (and surplus) led to the
development of new professions, to labor specialization and ultimately to the
stratification of these societies. Improved conditions of life led to somewhat
longer life spans. Nevertheless population growth remained low due to high
infant mortality rates. The impact of the neolithic revolution was not as much
on immediate population growth (even though it did have a long term impact on
population growth) as on the material and spiritual development of the human
race. It is widely regarded as the beginning of civilization. Industrial
revolution was another process of change. It was the process of substituting
muscle power with machine power. It took place in the 18th century in Europe
and is still happening in many parts of the world. In many characteristics it
has been similar to the neolithic revolution: it increased production, it led to
the use of resources that had been mostly unused until then and it improved the
overall quality of life. It also led to changes in the structure of society.
What was different, was its impact on population growth. It was quick and easily
noticeable. Advanced sanitation, hygiene and medicine led to longer life spans
and declining death rates, with the birth rates remaining high. This resulted
in a high rate of population growth that still continues in many countries. The
information revolution is the process of change that began in the second half of
the 20th century in the developed countries of the world. It is the process of
substituting "brain power" with "machine power". It leads to increased
production and has the potential to create a more even distribution of the
world\'s population on the surface of the earth. It also has the potential to
decrease the differences between the less developed and the highly developed
nations of the world. Then again it also has the potential to increase those
differences. It causes changes in the structure of society. Many of its impacts
are still to be experienced.

2.) Thomas Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus, an English economic thinker published a theory in 1798
concerning the relationship between population growth and food supply. He said
that population always increases exponentially, while food supplies increase
only arithmetically. He advocated that moral restraints can not be implemented
on the scale of the whole population because most individuals are will seek
their own pleasure ignoring the global impacts of their actions. The growing
population will therefore put a strain on the limited food resources that will
lead to wars, famine and disease, decreasing the population thus restoring the
equilibrium. I think it is obvious that the first part of his theory, while it
does apply to certain countries, proved to be completely wrong on a global
scale. There is no world-wide calorie deficit. The "food supply increase to
population increase" ratio is substantially higher in the developed world than
in the less developed countries. On a global scale, current food supplies do
exceed the needs of the world\'s population, but they are not distributed in a
way that benefits the whole population. Fortunately international programs aimed
at achieving a better distribution of food resources do make an impact in
decreasing the calorie deficit, and it is quite likely that the inhabitants and
the leaders of the developed nations will eventually come to the conclusion
that it is better to "share some" than to risk loosing all. So, even where moral
restraints don\'t work, common sense just might have a chance.

3.) Population Growth, Demographics

A.) In the early prehistoric times (1 million years ago) there were no more
humans on the whole earth than in a modern American town (such as Provo). For a
long time the growth rate was slow. The difficulties of obtaining food, the
lack of sanitation or advanced medicine, the living conditions in general meant
short life spans (20-25 years in average) and a high death rate. Even the
largest communities (tribes) rarely exceeded 100 people.

B.) The neolithic