The Industrial Revolution: Inducing the Human Overgrowth

Centuries prior the Industrial Revolution, life for the common man was a challenging endeavour. One would endure hard labour to sustain oneself and their family. Without the advanced technological and medical aid, we as a population enjoy, a common cold for us could be a deadly struggle for mankind prior the population boom.  The average lifespan for a human was estimated to be around 40 years in the UK before the industrial revolution and the population growth only boomed once the industrial revolution was in effect.

With mankind now enjoying the growth from the Industrial Revolution, it allows for increase in lifespan and population, in addition to innovation on all fronts. New technologies are constantly being introduced, medicine is continually improving and it is now easier for a common man to provide for himself and his family. Due to the growth in population, economy, technology and medicine, the world experienced a population boom. With the continuous expansion of innovation, the population is rapidly increasing at alarming rates. By the laws of nature, when one species’ population continues to expand beyond what is controllable, it is regularly maintained by either predators, or diseases. Due to the technological advancements presented by the industrial revolution, it allows humankind to surpass the limitations of predators and diseases, thus further allowing the population to grow.

This brings us to the problem that peaked my interest at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) boot camp at Lancaster University, what will the solution be to accommodate the constantly increasing population, yet the limited resources and planetary boundaries. Ehrlich et al (1990) expresses the challenges the population currently faces due to a “population explosion”. They argue that the main underlying cause of disruption in the planets ecosystem and human communities is due to the overgrowth of the human population, and the issues it can cause are becoming more evident daily, (Ehrlich et al, 1990). Their book of concerns regarding human population: The Population Explosion, was written 27 years ago when the population was at 5.3 billion. Today the population is at 7.4 billion.

Despite the issues of human overgrowth being expressed decades ago, from what I am aware, no global coalition has assembled to solve the coming crisis the human overgrowth will conceive. Therefore, this is one of many topics I hope to learn more about as I join my team at the WBCSD the following week.

Tor-Elesh Albrigtsen

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