Smail’s belief that a fully effective program of zero population growth would not be enough to reduce the world’s population is supported by the fact that much of the world’s population is under 15 and has yet to reproduce. Smail’s also states that the world’s long term carrying capacity is finite because the earth can only recycle renewable resources so fast and if your consumption of a resource passes the rate at which the earth can replenish it goes from being an infinite resource to a finite resource that will run out as some point. He sees the solution to this problem as putting in place aggressive conservation policies. With his statement “. . .come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters.” means that we are not alone on the planet and need to be aware of the fact the we are killing of lots of spices every day because of our habits. The view that Smail’s has on population growth does make it appear like more of the problem than most people see it and it is a problem, but Smails may very well be underestimating human ingenuity because many of the thing we have now were unthinkable to have even just 50 years ago.


Our growing population is off the charts. There are over 6 billion people on Earth today. Not just people either, there are plenty of other life forms that also arise here as well. As we continue to live in these tough times, we must realize that bringing another child into the world will only make our personal economy situation much worse. Bringing a baby in this world means more money to feed it, bath it, clothe it, etc. In America, we are educated on how to prevent pregnancies. We have condoms and birth control, the two main things that prevent pregnancy. However, there are people that just do not want to do this thus they suffer the consequence on having the baby, whether they wanted to or not. I completely agree with Smail that we have to find a way to lower our population rate. Earth is becoming crowded, and the fact that he states that Earth may only be able to support a global human population in the 2 to 3 billion range at a comfortable living really is alarming (pg 413). We need to stop this now or things are going to get out of hand. Times are now worse than ever, we need to do what is necessary to survive. We must cut down on population growth.

By Jeffrey V

Population Growth

          Smail says that it would take at least two to three generations for the population to be at a stable level because of the “powerful population momentum” (414).  The fact that nearly one third of the world population is under the age of fifteen and has not yet reproduced.  When Smail is talking about the Earth carrying capacity he looks at it in terms of resources and it long-term.  The resources that he is talking about is inexpensive energy from fossil fuels, food supplies from plant or animal, raw material such as wood and minerals, fresh water, and readily accessible open space.  Smail is referring to long-term as over the span of several hundred years.  Over that time frame he states that it “is rapidly coming to a close” (415).  His solution to solving the problem is, to have a fully effective program of zero population growth but this will not stop the momentum of the population, unless there is a deadly pandemic or a devastating world war.  I think that Smail mean by his statement is that this Earth does not belong to us and we should treat it as such.  We need to find a way to control our population so we don’t over run the Earth.  We are the stewards of the Earth and we need to do a better job at it, because the way I see it, we are going to force ourselves into starvation or worse, extinction. BY BARRY

Discussion Question: Population Growth

Blog discussion 8 Population Growth
This blog discussion is based on chapter 68 of the book Seeing Ourselves, the article “Let’s Reduce Global Population!” by J. Kenneth Smail.
Answer and discuss the following questions:
What reasons does Smail give to support his belief that even a fully effective program of zero population growth would not be enough to reduce the world’s population? Smail states that the Earth’s long-term carrying capacity is finite. Why does he see this as a problem? What does he see as a solution to the problem? What does Smail mean by his statement “. . .come to regard ourselves more as the Earth’s long-term stewards than its absolute masters.”?

The students who are assigned to answer these questions are asked to do an original posts and comment on the posts of another student. Other students may comment on these posts. The instructions for these discussions are found on the class Moodle site