Population Growth

cover for GSS book Population Growth

POPULATION GROWTH addresses a fundamental problem: even if we can change our habits to use only clean and efficient sources of energy such as solar, wind, and water power, global environmental problems will continue to worsen if the world’s population continues to grow at the present rate. See Overview.


ChaptersInvestigationsStay Current
1. What Is a Population?1.1 Population Growth Behavior
1.2 Alien Invaders
Chapter 1
2. Patterns in Populations2.1 Graphing Population Changes
2.2 Human Thermostat
2.3 How Many Is A Billion?
2.4 Bacterial Growth
2.5 A Drop in the Bucket
2.6 Adding Armadillos
2.7 Grasshopper Mark and Recapture
Chapter 2
3. Population Reproduction, Growth,
and Change Over Time
3.1 Moldy Bread
3.2 Verhulst Population Equation
3.3 Playing with the Equation
3.4 Optimum Number of Offspring
3.5 Sex Advantages
3.6 Density Dependency
3.7 Earlobes
3.8 Dunkers Blood Types
3.9 Health Care & Population Growth
Chapter 3
4. The History of Human Population Growth4.1 Mathus’s Argument
4.2 Doubling Time
4.3 Too Many People?
4.4 Growth in the US
4.5 Future Growth?
Chapter 4
5. The Environmental Impact of Populations5.1 How Much Land?
5.2 Comparing Energy Consumption
5.3 Changing Facts
5.4 Cost of an Afternoon’s Entertainment
Chapter 5
6. One ChildChapter 6
7. Can We Limit Human Population Growth?7.1 Population Control—Cultural Connections
7.2 Difficult Questions
Chapter 7
8. Choosing a World8.1 Quality of Life
8.2 Road Not Taken
Chapter 8


As of November 16, 2022 there were 8 billion people on Earth, with the population increasing by over 180,000 every day. (For current population information, see http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/). Since it is difficult to see the effects of population growth, students are asked to think about quality of their own lives as a starting point, and to recognize how satisfying their needs requires Earth’s resources. Conditions in countries such as China and India illuminate what may happen if the human population continues to grow as rapidly as it is today. Through mathematical investigations, students learn about factors that contribute to the rate of population growth, and the idea of carrying capacity, relating an ecosystem to populations it can sustain. The cultural and religious dimensions of efforts to curb population growth are sensitively discussed. Students are encouraged to form their own opinions about what can and should be done by individuals and by governments to control the growth of the global human population.