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Seven Billion LEVELED BOOK Y

and Counting
A Reading AZ Level Y Leveled Book
Word Count: 1,788 Seven Billion
Writing
Connections and Counting
Imagine you are the President of the
United States. Write a speech persuading
citizens to actively commit to protect
Earths limited resources. Deliver your
speech to your class.
Social Studies
Write a research report comparing how
developing countries and rich countries
have an impact on overpopulation. Include
their populations, use of resources, and
laws protecting the environment.
Z
2
1
Y Z
Written by Cynthia Kennedy Henzel

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Seven Billion birthrate
Words to Know
efficient

and Counting carrying capacity


consumers
developing countries
fossil fuels
overpopulation
resources
distribution standard of living
ecosystem sustainable
Photo Credits:
Front cover: Vic Pigula/Alamy; title page: An xin/Imaginechina/AP Images;
page 3: nobleIMAGES/Alamy; page 5: Ivonne Wierink/Dreamstime.com;
page 7: ANT Photo Library/Photo Researchers, Inc.; page 8: Bettmann/
Getty Images; page 10: iStock/Kathy Konkle; page 12: iStock/Rafa Irusta;
page 13: Kazuyoshi Nomachi/HAGA/The Image Works

Written by Cynthia Kennedy Henzel


www.readinga-z.com

Focus Question Seven Billion and Counting


Level Y Leveled Book Correlation
Learning AZ LEVEL Y
What factors are contributing to Written by Cynthia Kennedy Henzel
Fountas & Pinnell T
overpopulation, and how does this All rights reserved. Reading Recovery 40
DRA 40
affect Earth? www.readinga-z.com
A Giant Mystery
When a group of people called the Rapanui
(ra-pa-NOO-e) settled Easter Island in the Pacific
Ocean, they cleared trees for homes and fields.
With plenty of fish, wildlife, and crops, the
population grew. The Rapanui carved moai
(MO-eye)huge human figures of stone
and raised them along the coast. Then, around
the year 1680, the carving stopped and the
population dropped. What happened?

One theory is that the Rapanui used up


many of their resources as their population grew
India will soon have more people than any other country on Earth. Because too large. Resources are natural things in our
most of its people are poor, however, India uses far fewer resources than
the United States. environment that help us live: food, clean water,
energy. At one time, the island was able to provide
Table of Contents
a small population with food, water, and wood
A Giant Mystery ....................................................... 4 for building. During this time, the people may
How Many Are Too Many? ..................................... 5 have used the trunks of trees like wheels to
A Recent Problem? ................................................... 7 move the huge stones. Eventually though, the
population grew too large for everyone to get
The Growth Spurt ................................................... 8
what they needed. The forests were all cut down.
Technology to the Rescue! ....................................... 9 Many of the Rapanui died because theyd used
The Good News ...................................................... 12 up their resources.
An Uncertain Future .............................................. 13 Many people today think the seven billion
Enough for Everyone.............................................. 14 humans on Earth are using up the planets
An Island in Space .................................................. 15 resources in much the same way as the Rapanui.
Will Earths people meet the same end as the
Glossary ................................................................... 16
people of Easter Island?
Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 3 4
World Resource Use in 2005 World Population
in 2005
Poor countries Source: World Bank
Development Indicators,
100
Many people in
used 1.5% 2008
poor
poor countries live
(22%)
1.4 billion on less than $1.25
80
a day. In rich
Developing countries, most
countries people live on at
60
used 22% developing least $10 a day.
(58%) Ten dollars a day
40
3.75 billion doesnt mean
Rich youre richfar
countries used from it. It does
76.5% 20
mean youre richer
These giant statues on Easter Island were far too heavy to carry. So how rich than 80 percent
were they moved? (20%) of the other people
0
1.3 billion on the planet.
How Many Are Too Many?
If everyone on Earth lived the way most
If you look around you, Earth may not seem
Americans live, Earth could only support two
crowded. There are empty houses, fields, and
billion people. Thats because rich countries like
forests. Even New York City, with an average
the United States and those in Western Europe use
of 27,012 people per square mile, still has room
more than three-quarters of the worlds resources.
for parks.
Those living in poor countries, although they
Overpopulation is not a problem of space. outnumber the people in rich countries, use only
Rather, it is a problem of not having enough 1.5 percent of the worlds resources.
resources. Overpopulation means that people
Over half the worlds people live in developing
have gone beyond their environments carrying
countries where more and more resources are
capacitythe largest number that can live in
being used. Two developing countries are China
a place without using up the resources they
and India, each with more than a billion people.
need in order to survive. Scientists estimate
Earths carrying capacity at between two and If everyone on Earth used only what we
forty billion people. Why such a wide estimate? needed to stay alive, our planet could support
Because the carrying capacity depends on how forty billion people. Other species would be
many resources each person uses. pushed out, however, and life would be hard.

Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 5 6


A Recent Problem? The Growth Spurt
Experts suspect the kind of collapse that led In 1800, one billion people lived on Earth.
to the Rapanuis decline has happened to many It took humans 120,000 years to reach that number.
civilizations. In the Middle East, where farming By 1927, just 127 years later, we had doubled that
began about ten thousand years ago, populations number. Thirty-three years later, in 1960, wed
soared with more food from irrigating crops. tripled it: three billion people. The year 2011 saw
However, irrigation can erode soil or leave enough the seven billionth person on the planetand a
salt in the soil to kill crops. This land, once known population still growing at more than 200,000
as the Fertile Crescent because it could grow so people each day.
much food, wore out. Over time, the theory goes,
The population explosion began with the new
the carrying capacity of the land decreased and
technology of the Industrial Revolution (17601850).
the ancient civilizations disappeared.
New farming practices, manufacturing, and
As populations go beyond their carrying railroads changed the way people lived. More food
capacity, the result can be starvation, the spread and better distribution meant that more children
of disease, the destruction of the environment, survived and people were healthier. More people
and wars as people moved from farms to cities in
fight for scarce order to work in factories.
resources. If they
At the same time, scientists
can, some people
discovered the causes of
leave to find new
many diseases and ways
resources. The Easter
to save thousands of lives.
Islanders could not Clearing trees can cause erosion. Too much
salt in the soil can kill plants. Here, clearing More children survived
leave because their trees for farming actually released salt from
to adulthood, which meant
nearest neighbors the soil and ruined it.
that more adults were around A seven-month-old girl
were thousands of miles across the ocean, and inhales vaporized penicillin.
to have more children. The The antibiotic has saved
they had no wood left to build canoes. As the
human population boomed. countless lives.
European population boomed in the 1800s,
people moved to the Americas and Australia.

Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 7 8


Technology to the Rescue! Only 2.5 percent of Earths water is fresh.
The human population might have grown Of that small amount, two-thirds is frozen
faster than its ability to grow food, but in the in glaciers. The amount of available fresh water
1940s the Green Revolution began. Scientists is less than 1 percent of the water on Earth.
developed special seeds so farmers could produce Fresh water is not everywhere on the planet,
more food. They developed chemicals to control either. Twenty percent of people, mostly in Africa
insects and plant diseases. Places once unfit for and parts of Asia, do not have a safe source
farming could now grow food with chemical of drinking water.
fertilizers and irrigation.
Seventy percent of available fresh water is used
This new farming technology spread across for irrigation. In the United States, underground
the globe, allowing even poor countries to grow water in the West is pumped onto fields faster than
more food. It brought a threefold increase in food it can be replaced. Mighty rivers like the Colorado
production. Some people believed that this kind either trickle to the sea or fail to reach the sea at
of human invention would allow the population all because so much water is taken for irrigation
to grow forever. and cities. As water becomes scarce, much of the
Yet new technology brought new problems. cropland that feeds the world will become desert.
More water was needed for irrigation. Chemicals One Regions Water Table 19452005
used for growing crops polluted food and water,
ground level
and poisoned the environment. Some people 20 ft. data source:
realized that we were destroying the planet we 40 ft.
www.tucsonaz.gov

60 ft.
depend on for life. But there were no New Worlds 80 ft.
feet underground
left to discover on Earth. 100 ft.
120 ft.

Of course, some resources are renewable. They 140 ft.


160 ft. Water Table
can be replaced. New trees can be planted. The 180 ft.

Sun and wind offer huge supplies of energy. Water year


200 ft.
1945 1955 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005
population 40,000 150,000 317,000 450,000 611,000 744,000 1,000,000
is constantly renewed through the water cycle.
As the population of Southern Arizona grew from 40,000 to 1 million,
the water table plunged 170 feet.

Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 9 10


Some of Earths resources, like coal, copper, The Good News
and other metals, cant be renewed. These By 2010, the global population growth rate had
resources take millions of years to form, so they slowed from a high of 2.2 percent to 1.1 percent
cant be replaced once they are used up. Oil, per year. In many rich countries, population
one such resource, is used in farming and growth has actually stopped or reversed.
manufacturing, and to fuel vehicles. The United Their birthrate is now below the
States, with 5 percent of the worlds people, replacement rate of 2.1 children
uses 25 percent of the worlds oil. As developing per woman. The replacement rate
countries need more oil, the price of food and is the average number of children
energy will increase. born per woman that over time
An ecosystem is another resource that cant be will create a stable population.
renewed. Ecosystems do the work that keeps our More people are becoming aware that Earth
planet healthy. Swamps clean water and reduce has limited resources. Renewable sources of
flooding, grasslands form rich soils, and forests energy, such as wind and solar power, are being
balance the atmosphere. Yet heavy use of wood developed. Many countries have passed laws for
and farmland is destroying many important cleaner air and water as well as protection for
ecosystems. Half of Earths tropical rainforests, ecosystems. In some places forests have increased,
the most diverse ecosystems, are gone. Thousands although the ecosystems of old forests are often
of plant and animal species become extinct each lost, even when new trees are planted.
year. We cannot bring them back.
World Population Projections, 19902150
Our planet is warming, too. Burning fossil 30 Data source: UN Long-Range World 30
Population Projections, 1991
fuels such as oil and coal releases carbon dioxide Population (Billions) 25 25
TFR = total fertility rate
into the atmosphere, trapping more heat at Earths 20
TFR = 2.5
20

15 15
surface and changing ecosystems around the
10 TFR = 2.06 10
world. Already we have seen melting polar ice 5 5
TFR = 1.7
caps, spreading deserts, and wilder weather. 0
1990 2025 2050 2075 2100 2125 2150
0

These trends cannot easily be reversed. Three estimates of future world population based on three different
fertility rates. The TFR is the average number of children that each
woman will have during her lifetime, worldwide.

Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 11 12


An Uncertain Future Enough for Everyone
Despite the good news, the worlds population Consider the United States. Because it has
continues to grow, mostly in poor countries. The gone past its carrying capacity, Americans
United Nations predicts a population of about must bring in resources from other countries
9.6 billion by 2050. By most estimates, this is to keep up their standard of living. With seven
almost twice the number of people who can live billion people on Earth, wed need three or four
on Earth in a sustainable way. But no matter more planets for everyone to live like most
which estimate you believe, everyone now agrees people in the United States.
that the human population cannot keep growing
Everyone in the world can have enough
forever without destroying the planet.
to eat, however, if people in rich countries eat
Lowering birthrates is critical. If rich countries smarter and waste less. For example, grain is
can share Earths resources more fairly, it can the worlds most important source of food. Yet
actually help lower the global birthrate. How as meat production has boomed for rich and
might they do this? developing countries, a third of the grain
grown worldwide is used to feed livestock.
First, make sure that children and mothers
It takes between 11 pounds (4.99 kg) and
get better health care, clean water, and good
16 pounds (7.25 kg) of grain to create 1 pound
food. Families generally have fewer children if
(0.45 kg) of meat. Eating less meat means
they believe the children they have will survive.
more grain for people in poor countries
Second, governments can provide help for and protection of valuable grasslands.
elderly and sick people so that parents will know
Average Americans use 3 times the
someone will take care of them when they are old.
food and 250 times the fresh water needed
Third, educate women. to survive. They are the worlds biggest
When women are educated consumers. They could instead be the
and given control over worlds most efficient consumers if they
deciding the size of their make intelligent choices about how to live.
family, they tend to have
fewer children.
Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 13 14
How many planets wed need if everyone lived like a resident Glossary
of the following:
birthrate (n.) the number of babies born in a
Within our means Beyond our means population within a specific period
of time (p. 12)
USA
5 planets carrying the greatest population that an
capacity (n.) environment can support indefinitely
Argentina (p. 5)
1.7 planets consumers (n.) those who buy or rent goods
or services and use them (p. 14)
China
1.0 planets developing countries moving toward higher
countries (n.) standards of living and more
India advanced economies, largely through
0.4 planets the development of industry (p. 6)
distribution (n.) the sharing or delivery of goods
World average and services to people or stores (p. 8)
1.4 planets Data source: Global Footprint Network,
based on 2006 UN Statistics ecosystem (n.) a community of living things together
with their habitat (p. 11)
An Island in Space efficient (adj.) making good use of time and
resources (p. 14)
The Rapanui left records on carved tablets, but
fossil fuels (n.) energy sources, such as coal, oil,
no one can translate the ancient language today. and natural gas, that are taken
Even so, we can still learn from the Rapanui. from the ground (p. 11)
Hopefully, the tale of their little island can teach overpopulation (n.) the condition of having too many
us to protect our limited resources on Earth, our people or other living things in
an area (p. 5)
own little island in space.
resources (n.) supplies of something valuable
or very useful (p. 5)
standard the level of material comforts
of living (n.) and wealth available to a person,
community, or country (p. 14)
sustainable (adj.) able to be used in a way that does not
completely use up or cause permanent
damage to a resource (p. 13)

Seven Billion and Counting Level Y 15 16