Seven Billion People

As I’m sure you are all aware,(and if not, see here) the world is set to welcome its seven billionth person this year. Or perhaps next year. Or perhaps it has already happened. Or maybe not. Anyway, the population is around the seven billion person mark and the comforting thought that the world’s population is around the six billion range has been disturbed. This has produced a fair amount of angst and some debate about how many more people the Earth can support in the future.  Are the population bomb predictions about to (finally) come true? As the Financial Times comments:
“…the central concerns still revolve around the earth’s human “carrying capacity”. How many people can live sustainably on this planet? Can we feed a global population that is growing by 76m per year and will exceed 9bn by 2050, according to median demographic estimates? And will the growing human burden on the earth eventually cause catastrophic and irreversible environmental damage, from climate change to mass extinction of wildlife?”
The FT piece is very interesting and has some very interesting graphs and figures that are bright, colourful, interactive AND informative – a compelling combination!  The report even highlights that there is another side to this debate apart from the inevitable “there are too many people therefore we must do something about it, how about people (usually poorer than ourselves) do something about it and have less kids” spiel that dominates the news reports:
“Estimates of human carrying capacity range from a billion to a trillion people,” says Joel Cohen, head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University, New York. “Those numbers are really political numbers rather than scientific numbers, designed to support a particular viewpoint.”
Please go have a look at the article, which, as I say, is very interesting and informative.  The one downside about it is that it doesn’t mention the population decline that many countries are going through currently or the estimated world population decline that is one of the possibilities that the UN has estimated by 2100.  Nor does it mention that while the numbers are increasing of people in the world are increasing seemingly at an increasing rate, this is masking a drastic slowing down of the rate of population growth.  For an alternative view, take a couple of minutes to have a look at this interesting and easy to follow video from the Population Research Institute:

Welcome baby number 7 billion, whoever you are! I, for one, am glad you are here.


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