We Are Demanding Too Much


John Scales Avery, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

A Book Announcement

I would like to announce the publication of a new book, which may be downloaded and circulated free of charge from the following link:


The Explosive Rise of Human Population

When the global population of humans is plotted as a function of time over a period of twelve thousand years, and the uses of fossil fuels is plotted on the same graph, the two curves are seen to rise abruptly and simultaneously during the last two or three centuries. The use of fossil fuels will stop in a few centuries because of depleted resources, but it must stop much more abruptly if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided. This raises the question of whether human population is headed for a crash in the post-fossil-fuel era.

We Are Demanding More from Nature Than Nature Can Restore

Until the agricultural revolution, and later the industrial revolution, humans were few in number, and lived in balance with nature. However, in recent centuries humans have exploded in numbers. The global population will reach 8 billion in 2022. In order to feed such an enormous population, vast areas of forests have been cut down and converted into farmland. Nevertheless, food prices are starting to rise rapidly, and many parts of the world are threatened with famine.

As glaciers melt in the Himalayas, depriving India and China of summer water supplies; as sea levels rise, drowning the fertile rice fields of Viet Nam and Bangladesh; as drought threatens the productivity of grain-producing regions of North America; and as the end of the fossil fuel era impacts modern high-yield agriculture, there is a threat of wide-spread famine, involving not millions of people, but billions.

Reducing Our Demands

In order to achieve a sustainable society, and to avoid a catastrophic population crash, we must strive to stabilize and later reduce human numbers. We must also strive to live more modestly, and to reduce our demands.

Other Books on Global Problems

Other books on global problems and on cultural history may be downloaded free of charge from the following links:




John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf). Website: https://www.johnavery.info/

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Nov 2022.

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