Population matters in ecological economics Essay Example

It is an ecological economics axiom that environmental pollution and resource depletion rely on population and the number of goods and services each consumes, which is altered by the technical efficiency of production[CITATION Alc14 l 1033 ]. The article evaluates some studies by measuring how human contribute to the environment. The paper asks if from the environmental point of view satisfaction whether predicted or present population size is justified. It further states that the answer to the question depends on both mortality and fertility assumptions and on limitations like food and resource availability[ CITATION Alc14 l 1033 ]. Therefore, cultural carrying capacity concept helps societies in the determination of optimal population taking in account not only subsistence but the quality of life.

These are the two major interesting articles concerning the ecological economics topic.

The first paper states that, Population is important in ecological economics. It also argues that the subject of population growth cannot be overlooked hence must be dealt with if improvement is to be made in tackling humanity’s environmental effects. The following are the six major conclusions that were reached upon in this paper:

  1. Through the application of I=f (P, A ,T) formula, both affluence and population influence the size of impact[ CITATION Reb17 l 1033 ]. Therefore, instead of competing the two factors off against one another, studies have decided to measure each individual’s contributions to specific impacts relatively.
  2. The present population is not sustainable, if the affluence (A) desirable levels and resource efficiency (T) increases, therefore, it is unwise to ignore the size of the population or even depend on its natural to reach its peak in several decades[ CITATION Reb17 l 1033 ]. The precautionary principle, the decrease in death rates and the reduction in food production all argue against complacency.
  3. The net effect on the impact of stable or lower population, significantly eases the alleviation of poverty levels.
  4. Cultural carrying capacity, is the method through which countries can come up with decisions on optimal population size individually[ CITATION Dor17 l 1033 ]. After the determination of desirable and sustainable levels of effects and the level of affluence that are desirable, through the inclusion of the welfare of future human beings and other species, an accurate level of technological efficiency increases in the application of resources is estimated[ CITATION Reb17 l 1033 ]. Henceforth, through the use of P=I/AT the number of people which are compatible to these assumptions are derived.
  5. When the policies regarding population reduction or stabilization are debated, it is important to remember that those policies affect the rich as well as poor societies, and ‘coerce’ us, evenly.
  6. The debate between procreative responsibilities and procreative rights should be confronted by societies to decide if the reproductive behavior lays in the realm of activities that are controlled legitimately by democratic majority.

Ecological economics is equipped for various tasks:

  1. Assessment of the relative contributions of I to P, A and T critically, through the use of biophysical units
  2. Comparison of the cost-effectiveness in regard to the marginal impact-reduction investment, in terms of P, A and T.
  3. Declining of high estimations of human population, based on ‘huge feedlot’ standards, whether on grounds of present utility or ecology.
  4. Definition of sustainable agriculture and measure its yields per hectare, and ensure sustainable fuel usage.
  5. Calculating realistic approximation of cultural carrying capacity nationally so that the society can devise population-size goals[ CITATION Dor17 l 1033 ].
  6. Identification and re-evaluation of pro-natalist subsidies.
  7. Recognition of the competition between humans and other species for resources and space.
  8. Giving answers to ethical questions about population constraint policies within the inter-generational justice frameworks and the risks of open-access commons.
  9. Application of the principle of multi-disciplinarity by explicitly debating human rights and legal issues.

Despite the fact that, population, inefficiency, affluence, or toxicity reduction policy can sadly be reimbursed through expansion of other human-ecological realms, negotiation of political paths to sustainability needs clear decisions regarding population goals that are desirable. To sum up there are concrete issue, in form of questions that were raised by American efforts for one from Guatemala through the Darien Gap or EU efforts for a biological corridor from Orkney to the Black Sea[CITATION Why15 l 1033 ]. Does the Americas and the EU have a moral responsibility to use these areas agriculturally so as to feed humans that are undernourished and is it easier or harder to determine the human population growth? Finally, it is important for the population to stabilize[CITATION Why15 l 1033 ]. The only choice humans have is to control it democratically, humanely and consciously or wait for real limits to do it. This paper intended to make room for fresh discussion on the topic of ecological economics.


Alcott, 2014. Two papers in ecological economics. [Online]
Available at: http://www.fcrn.org.uk/research-library/two-papers-ecological-economics
[Accessed 27 6 2014].

Anon., 2015. Why population matters for the 2015 UK general election. [Online]
Available at: https://www.populationmatters.org/documents/uk_manifesto.pdf
[Accessed 27 6 2017].

Gillaspy, R., 2017. What Is IPAT? — Factors of the Human Impact on the Environment. [Online]
Available at: http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-ipat-factors-of-the-human-impact-on-the-environment.html
[Accessed 27 6 2017].

Lin, D., 2017. What is Cultural Carrying Capacity?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-cultural-carrying-capacity-127890
[Accessed 27 6 2017].