7 Billion:National Geographic:The Numbers

The January 2011 edition of National Geographic magazine, including the front cover and a good deal of the magazine, was devoted to the total number of people inhabiting the world today.

The Earth’s population will reach Seven Billion people sometime in 2011.

Numbers, they can be mind numbing. They oftentimes do the opposite of their intentions, which is to institute a sense of proportion into where we have been, where we are now and where we are going.

The intent is not to numb the mind, but to stimulate the mind, so we all take the actions required to limit the world’s growth and improve the lives of all those living on the planet.

Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we posses. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims.

Martin Luther King, Jr

The final conclusion must be that we have become very adept at longevity, but not very good at sustainability.

The numbers listed below are the  numbers given in sequence by Robert Kunzig, the author of the National Geographic article.

  • Global population is projected to reach Nine Billion by 2045. That is 35 years from now
  • 1677: Antoni van Leeuwenhoek: Examines his own semen through a tiny magnifying glass
  • Estimated population in 1677 was 500 Million
  • 1825: Discovery of female egg cells: Population Doubled to One Billion
  • 1930: Two Billion people
  • 2011: Seven Billion people
  • There are people alive today that will see the population of the world Triple
  • 1.8 Billion women today are in their childbearing age
  • Population in 2045: 8 billion to 10.5 billion: best guess – 9 Billion
  • The differences are One Child per woman – plus or minus
  • World population is increasing about 80 Million per year
  • One Billion people go hungry every day
  • Two billion more poor people in the next Three Decades
  • They will use more already depleted resources: How are we going to feed, clothe, educate, employ those people
  • Water tables falling: eroding soil: glaciers melting: fish stocks vanishing
  • Increasing populations will clear forests, burn coal and oil, use fertilizers and pesticides
  • 1789: Thomas Malthus: General Law of Population: Populations necessarily grow faster than the food supply, until war, disease and famine reduce populations
  • But world populations probably have not fallen since the Black Death of the 14th century
  • Instead of declining  in 1789 populations began to dramatically increase
  • New World crops: Corn and Potatoes: Chemical Fertilizers introduced
  • Cities from 1850 onward began to develop sewers and were separated from drinking water, which was filtered and chlorinated
  • Stopped the spread of Cholera and Typhus
  • 1798: Edward Jenner described a vaccine for Smallpox
  • Life Expectancy went from 35 in 1800 to 77 in 2010
  • “The development of medical science was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Biologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968
  • The Population Bomb published in late 1960’s by Paul Ehrlich
  • In the 1970s, Ehrlich predicted, “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death … and it was too late to do anything about it. The cancer of population growth … must be cut out … by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”
  • 1960 to 2010: Green Revolution: Grain production doubles: High-yield seeds, irrigation, pesticides, fertilizers:
  • Today: Many people undernourished, but mass starvation is rare
  • Population explosion because people saved from dying: Penicillin, vaccinations, DDT: Ehrlich was right
  • When child mortality declines, couples eventually have fewer children—but that transition usually takes a generation, at the very least
  • Today in developed countries, an average of 2.1 births per woman would maintain a steady population; in the developing world, “replacement fertility” is somewhat higher
  • In the time it takes for declining birth rates to settle into a new balance with increasing longevity, populations explode
  • Demographic Transition: People now have some control over death and birth rates
  • Global population explosion: Side effect of Demographic Transition
  • 1970’s fertility rates were dropping: Population growth has since dropped 40 percent
  • Birth control: From pre-Enlightment “God will decide” to 18th century “withdrawal”/coitus interruptus to 19th century France where fertility rates dropped to 3.0 
  • Except for the “baby boom” after WW II fertility rates in Europe have dropped today to 1.4 – below replacement level
  • Economic windfall: Demographic dividend with a baby boom: more people working than retiring; fuel economy and provide for retirees
  • Economic down side: After “baby boom” and lower fertility rates: fewer people working so less people supporting retirees
  • How to support an aging population: Social Security – Medicare, especially in Europe and U.S.
  • China today a Fifth of world population. Still growing, but below replacement level.  From 6.0 in 1965 to 1.5 in 2010
  • China’s One-child policy mandated in 1979
  • Iran fertility rate dropped by 70% since 1980’s and Brazil, a Catholic and democratic country, has dropped 50%
  • 16% of the world population, mostly in Africa, has high fertility rates
  • Niger is 7.0, others south of the Sahara around 5.0.  But Life Expectancy around 50
  • World will reach replacement fertility by 2030 – populations as a whole are on a path toward non-explosion
  • In 2030 the largest generation of adolescents in history will then be entering their childbearing years
  • If each woman has only two children, population will increase under its own momentum for another 25 years
  • One in Six of them will live in India
  • India: 1966 500 Million people: 2010 over 1.2 Billion
  • India: 1.6 Billion by 2050
  • India will exceed population of China by 2030 and become the world’s largest country
  • If the world’s population were to reach 7.4 Billion in 2050 instead of 8.9 Billion, it would reduce emissions by 15%

Something to consider: A Billion people = 1000 Million people