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Is Earth overpopulated?

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Most of our serious problems in the world today can be traced back to the impact of human populations on the environment. With each person requiring energy, space and resources to survive, the stress on the planet of the world population, currently estimated to be seven billion, is enormous.

Richard Cardullo, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside, will give a free public lecture on campus in which he will discuss whether there are too many people in the world today.

His hour-long lecture is titled "Earth 101: Too Many People?" and will begin at 6 p.m., March 29, in Rooms D-E, University Extension Center (UNEX).

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Seating is open. Parking at UNEX will be free for lecture attendees.

"Our current rate of population growth is clearly unsustainable," said Cardullo, who also serves as the divisional dean for life sciences in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. "This is true whether you consider the availability of food, water, or energy."

Cardullo has had a long-standing interest in the world population. He is particularly interested in the tension between increasing human populations, technology's impact on stemming the impacts of that growth, and the ultimate carrying capacity of the planet.

As a scientist he has worked on problems directly related to understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine how individuals reproduce.

"In many different ways, we control our destiny both in terms of the size of our population and how we manage our limited resources," he said. "Solutions will rely on a well-educated public that is willing to develop new technologies that will both solve the population problem and heal the planet of damage that we human beings have caused."

In his talk, Cardullo will present data for how human populations have grown at an alarming rate over the past few centuries and discuss some of its consequences. He also will present current scientific approaches for reducing birth rates through the development of new contraceptive agents that target specific events in the fertilization process.

Cardullo served as the chair of the UC Riverside Department of Biology from 2004-2009. He was named a UCR Distinguished Teaching Professor of Biology in 2006. In 1998 he received UCR's Distinguished Teaching Award and was appointed to the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. He chairs the Board for the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, has been a judge for local and state science fairs, and is the principal investigator for two California Math Science Partnership projects working with elementary and middle school teachers and students in the Inland Empire.

This year's lecture series, titled "Earth 101: What You Need to Know About Life on Our Planet," aims to boost the public's awareness and understanding of science and of how scientists work.

Each of the four lectures will be introduced by a teacher from a local high school. Cardullo's talk will be introduced by science teacher Jeremy Standerfer of the Riverside Unified School District.

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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