Details here/below + National Geographic Video:
Seven Billion And Counting
The human population is just about to reach 7 billion. Yikes! We talk to the experts — Polyannas, Cassandras and in between — about how many of us Mother Earth can handle.
Mark Lynas, author of The God Species: Saving The Planet In The Age Of Humans. He is a visiting research scholar at Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment.
Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert, he is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and editor of the blog climateprogress.org. He served in the U.S. Department of Energy in the Clinton Administration.
From Tom’s Reading List
New York Times “Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date — the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March — but there can be no doubt that humanity is approaching a milestone.”
The Atlantic “The United Nations Population Fund estimates that in one week, on October 31, 2011, the world’s population will reach 7 billion. Just 200 years ago, there were only 1 billion people on the planet, and over the next 150 years, that number grew to 3 billion. But in the past 50 years, the global population has more than doubled, and the UN projects that it could possibly grow to 15 billion by the year 2100.”
Practical Ethics “One example is the rapidly growing information economy. If someone makes a hammer, only a few people get the benefit, but if someone records a new song, writes a computer program, or invents a new technology, everyone can benefit. These activities thus produce more value the more people we have. With twice as many people doing jobs like these, we could all get roughly twice the benefits (more art, culture, science, technology), or they could work roughly half as many hours. A larger population thus has the potential to make life much better, so long as we can find the resources to support it.”
The Economist “In 1950 the whole population of the earth—2.5 billion—could have squeezed, shoulder to shoulder, onto the Isle of Wight, a 381-square-kilometre rock off southern England. By 1968 John Brunner, a British novelist, observed that the earth’s people—by then 3.5 billion—would have required the Isle of Man, 572 square kilometres in the Irish Sea, for its standing room. Brunner forecast that by 2010 the world’s population would have reached 7 billion, and would need a bigger island.”