Environmental Values 5(1996): 285-301. doi: 10.3197/096327196776679267
Global human population expansion is rooted in a remarkably successful evolutionary innovation. The neolithic transformation of the natural world gave rise to a symbiosis between humans and their domesticated plant and animal partners that will expand from a current 20 per cent to 60 percent of terrestrial biomass by the middle of the coming century. Such an increase must necessarily be accompanied by a concomitant decrease in wildlife biomass. We suggest that current trends in population growth are unlikely to abate for three reasons: first, there are intrinsic biological pressures to reproduce regardless of social engineering; second, the character of the domestic alliance makes it a formidable competitor to wildlife; and third, the timeframe before population doubling is, from a biological perspective, virtually instantaneous. This paper draws from a wide body of research in the biological and social sciences. We neither condone nor endorse this picture of inexorable population increase. Rather, we appeal for a change in the nature of the discussion of population among environmentalists, to focus on the question of how best to manage what wildlife will be left on the margins of a domesticated world.
KEYWORDS: Domestication, evolution, nature, population, wildlife
CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:
Population: Time-Bomb or Smoke-Screen? Mario Petrucci
Reproductive Liberty and Overpopulation: A Response. Stanley Warner
Reproductive Liberty and Overpopulation: Reply to Stanley Warner. Carol A. Kates
Reprints of this article can be ordered from the British Library Document Supply Service or ingenta
Contact the publishers for subscriptions and back numbers of Environmental Values.
THE WHITE HORSE PRESS
The Old Vicarage, Winwick
Cambridgeshire, PE28 5PN, UK
Tel: +44 1832 293222