An ecological theory of changing human population dynamics

Abstract : The dependence of humans on nature has come into focus as the human popula‐tion continues to grow, resources diminish and production technology stagnates – threatening human well‐being on a global scale. Numerous previous models de‐scribe human population dynamics, in relation to a multitude of different factors. However, there are no consistent driving factors of human demography through history, which makes predicting future changes more challenging. Here, we review the literature on human population growth from empirical data and previous models, which allows us to highlight key trends in demography and land cover changes.. We then establish an ecologically driven theory of demographic change that uses resource accessibility as a proxy for socio‐economic factors. The theory combines multiple concepts to represent 12 millennia of past population dynamics through simple human–nature relationships.. Furthermore, the model allows us to compare different scenarios related to tech‐nological progress and land cover change, for which we find that the peak human population is highly dependent on whether technological developments continue at an exponential growth rate, or if and when there is a saturation point. Likewise, agriculture is shown to be helpful for growing the population, but nature is ulti‐mately needed to maintain the human population.
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Kirsten Henderson, Michel Loreau. An ecological theory of changing human population dynamics. People and Nature, 2019, 1 (1), pp.31-43. ⟨10.1002/pan3.8⟩. ⟨hal-02350603⟩

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