Population and the Environment

  • Jill L. FindeisEmail author
  • Shadayen Pervez
Living reference work entry


The impact of human population growth on the environment represents the major challenge of our time. This chapter reviews demographic change over the last century, set in historical context, and different perspectives on population-environment interactions. Differences in population growth rates and demographic change across space are explored, followed by perspectives on the population-environment nexus at multiple scales with a particular focus on those contexts where impacts are likely to be the very greatest on humankind. The alignment of individual and higher-level actions resulting in environmental impacts and the negative force of the impacts of actions are important, to signal the need to change behaviors. Interrelationships are shown to be highly complex. It is argued that multidisciplinary efforts to tackle complexity and to focus on resilience at multiple scales are critically needed, with the importance of multidisciplinary regional science thought being underscored. The question is raised, however, whether these efforts will be coordinated well enough across multiple scales and with multiple disciplines and publics to avoid what could be catastrophic impacts. These are most likely to occur at local and regional scales where population growth rates are high, natural environments already vulnerable, and resilience limited.


Population growth Population growth rate Vicious cycle Environmental Kuznets curve Human population growth 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Applied Social SciencesUniversity of Missouri-Columbia, Population Research Institute, Pennsylvania State UniversityColumbiaUSA

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