Current Demographics Suggest Future Energy Supplies Will Be Inadequate to Slow Human Population Growth

DeLong, John P., Burger, Oskar F., Hamilton, Marcus J. (2010) Current Demographics Suggest Future Energy Supplies Will Be Inadequate to Slow Human Population Growth. PloS one, 5 (10). pp. 25-31. ISSN 1932-6203. E-ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013206) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013206

Abstract

Influential demographic projections suggest that the global human population will stabilize at about 9-10 billion people by mid-century. These projections rest on two fundamental assumptions. The first is that the energy needed to fuel development and the associated decline in fertility will keep pace with energy demand far into the future. The second is that the demographic transition is irreversible such that once countries start down the path to lower fertility they cannot reverse to higher fertility. Both of these assumptions are problematic and may have an effect on population projections. Here we examine these assumptions explicitly. Specifically, given the theoretical and empirical relation between energy-use and population growth rates, we ask how the availability of energy is likely to affect population growth through 2050. Using a cross-country data set, we show that human population growth rates are negatively related to per-capita energy consumption, with zero growth occurring at ?13 kW, suggesting that the global human population will stop growing only if individuals have access to this amount of power. Further, we find that current projected future energy supply rates are far below the supply needed to fuel a global demographic transition to zero growth, suggesting that the predicted leveling-off of the global population by mid-century is unlikely to occur, in the absence of a transition to an alternative energy source. Direct consideration of the energetic constraints underlying the demographic transition results in a qualitatively different population projection than produced when the energetic constraints are ignored. We suggest that energetic constraints be incorporated into future population projections.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013206
Additional information: Unmapped bibliographic data: Y2 - 2010/10/13/08:43:17 [EPrints field already has value set] DA - 2010/10/05/ [EPrints field already has value set] DP - PLoS ONE [Field not mapped to EPrints] L1 - http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObjectAttachment.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0013206&representation=PDF [Field not mapped to EPrints] J2 - PLoS ONE [Field not mapped to EPrints] L2 - http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0013206 [Field not mapped to EPrints]
Subjects: Q Science
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Oskar Burger
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2016 12:40 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 16:51 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/53671 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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