Sustainability, Health, and the Human Population

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Courtesy of Springer

A sustainable human population (e.g., range, density, and total numbers) is essential to health and in management. The notion of sustainability applies to all species and ecosystems and to the biosphere. Sustainability involves the health not only of individual humans, but also of ecosystems and other species. Thus, sustainability of the human population is important because of the wealth of factors involved: both the elements of systems it affects and those that contribute to its size. In this article, I address the sustainability of the human population on the basis of the argument that other species serve as examples of sustainability at the species level—an example of an application of systemic management that simultaneously accounts for complexity and achieves measurable health for individuals, species, and ecosystems. I conclude that the human population is two to four orders of magnitude larger than is optimally sustainable when compared with the populations of other mammalian species of similar body size and that this is a significant contributor to health problems for our species, other species, and ecosystems—a systemic pathology.

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