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Science

Humans and their environment

Human beings compete with other living things for resources and space. As the world’s population continues to increase, and standards of living improve, there is serious danger of a permanent change to the global environment.

Human activities have led to the pollution of the environment, and a reduction in the amount of land available for other animals and plants, which makes it difficult for some species to survive. There is a need to achieve a level of development that also sustains the environment for future generations.

The human population

Population growth

Like all living things, humans exploit their surroundings for resources. Before the beginning of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, small groups of humans wandered across large areas, hunting and gathering just enough food to stay alive. Population numbers were kept low because of the difficulty of finding food.

The development of agriculture led to a population explosion that has accelerated enormously during the past 500 years. Unlike other species, humans can adapt to and survive in almost all habitats and climates

the population has rapidly increased since 1500 CE, from less than 1 million in 1500 CE to over 6 billion today.

Human population growth over the past 10,000 years

Standards of living

People in the developed world enjoy a high standard of living, with abundant food, cars and comfortable housing. People in the developing world have a lower standard of living, but many countries are catching up quickly.

Impact of humans

The world’s human population has passed 6 billion and continues to increase. The growth in the human population and the increase in the standard of living are putting strains on the global environment. Here are some of the ways in which this is happening:

  • non-renewable energy resources, such as coal, oil and natural gas, are being used up rapidly
  • raw materials are being used up rapidly
  • more waste is being produced
  • more pollution is being caused

Back to Evolution and environment index

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