how humanity overcame its natural limits
Through almost all of humanity’s existence women that survived through their breeding age had six to ten babies, which were nurtured by the family group and their immediate society. Through most of this time the size of the human population didn’t grow, so all but two of those babies must have failed to grow to reproduce themselves to replace their parents, or the population would have increased. The ones that failed succumbed to a lack of resources, disease, predation, accident or fighting.
When people found themselves in a beneficial environment, perhaps without powerful predators or with easily obtained resources; or adapted better to their environment perhaps by developing immunity to diseases or ways to counter predators, then more than two babies overcame these issues and live to reproduce, and the population increased.
When people found themselves in a detrimental environment, perhaps with an unfavourable change in the climate, new diseases, or with new predators moving in, then less than two babies survived and lived to reproduce, and the population decreased.
Through almost all of humanity’s existence our population has risen and fallen in response to these relationships with our environment.
In modern times, and especially in the last 200 years, science, medicine, and the society we have created have allowed us to greatly reduce the death rate imposed upon us by our environment. By these means we have given ourselves greater and more reliable access to the resources that the Earth provides us with and controlled most of the diseases and predation that we are prone to. The consequent reduction in the human death rate, coupled with the natural tendency towards a surplus birth rate, has resulted in our population increasing rapidly.
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