There are three main factors which have contributed to the rapid growth in population that the modern world is experiencing: the green revolution, increased medical research, and technological advances.
The first of these deals with the surprising sucess of researchers in the 1960's and 70's to increase the productivity of food resources. Agricultural advances have insured that no one has to starve. This has been a great boon to places such as Latin America and Africa in that they can now produce five to six times the amount of consumables from one plot of land than they could have a few decades ago. For thousands of years, the Earth's carrying capacity depended on the available food supply and within the past generation that restriction has been made suddenly null. Needless to say, this had an important effect on the dramatic rise in the world population.
The advances in medicine we have seen over the past few generations are not only miraculous, but also staggering; especially when one considers their impact on the span of human life. Disease has throughout history always been the definitive factor in the limiting of the human population. Anyone who disagrees should refer to the demographic provided in the current issues section of this article which displays a huge dent in population due to the Black Plague. In modern times however, much attention has been paid to medical research and wiping out epidemic diseases such as small pox, malaria, cholera and many others. The huge amount of successes in this field during recent history directly affect the human population by decreasing death rates and increasing birth rates (what with fertility drugs and all). This imbalance in the natural order of life, especially in so short a time, has contributed significantly to the population explosion.
The final event, that of the industrial revolution and increase in the availability and use of technology, has lead to a more densely packed society that attempts to make room for an ever increasing population. The influx of new technology into the global market over the past 150 years has made life generally easier in the industrialised nations of the world and led to promising social situations that provoke the tendency of people to have more children. The United States felt such a surge in birth rate during the "baby boom" right after World War II.
With these factors acting in concert all within a short amount of time (compared to the length of human existence on this planet), it is no wonder why the population had such a sharp increase.
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Last Modified 4/18/96 by the authors.
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