Planetary Health for the Arabian Peninsula: The Environmental Limits of Human Population.

  • Philip M. Mitchell

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Human society can be thought of as a heat engine that is powered by fossil fuel and sunlight. The free energy that fossil fuels provide has enabled the development of our modern global human civilization and has arti´Čücially raised the human carrying capacity of the planet. Here, I discuss the roots of human population theory in the context of environmental limits, and argue that examining this issue is an essential matter of public health. The Arabian Peninsula is particularly vulnerable to the decline of fossil fuels. Historical records are examined to determine the distribution of population before the fossil fuel age. Then, an agent-based model is developed to examine the increase of carrying capacity and development of trade networks resulting from fossil fuel production. The carrying capacity of the Arabian Peninsula without fossil fuels is between 2.5-6 million people.
Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorTadeusz Patzek (Supervisor)

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