Thursday, May 09, 2013

Keeping Population In Perspective

Mankind now numbers well in excess of 7-billion and we're expected to reach 9-billion before long.   Here are a few stats to help you keep that in perspective.

When Columbus "sailed the ocean blue" and in American myth discovered the New World, 1492, the world population stood at around 500-million people.

Somewhere in the early 1800's that doubled to a billion people.

In the 1920's we hit the two billion mark for the first time.

By 1959 we upped that to three billion.   Less than one lifetime later we're well past seven billion.

Now let's go back to the death and resurrection of Christ.  In 1 A.D., the planet's population was roughly 250-million.   We're now adding over a million more people every five days.

So, where do we stand?  Well we all stand atop 57-million square miles of land of one sort of another of which about 12-million square miles is arable land.

In 1959 there were 12-acres of land for every human being, about 3-acres of arable land.   That was enough to meet all our needs quite comfortably.   Now we're down to 5-acres per person or about one acre of arable land.   By 2039 that could be down to 2-acres of land per capita, roughly .4 acres of arable land.   And that's without factoring in arable land lost to sea level rise; salination of coastal freshwater resources;  desertification from our exhaustion of once fertile farmland; cyclical floods and droughts resulting from our broken hydrological cycle.

Anybody see how this ends well?  If you do, send your ideas to your government and the U.N. and don't delay.   In the meantime maybe we should sit down and have a grownup chat about growth, starting right here in Canada.

Why here?   Because, according to researchers at the Global Footprint Network,  Canada is one of less than a handful of northern hemisphere countries (four, max) that retain a biomass surplus.   That means our ecological pants aren't too tight for us just yet.   And that means we have options, very important planning options, that almost no other countries have and all of them only wish they had.

Most countries fell into ecological deficit at a time when they didn't know better.  We didn't truly grasp the relationship between biomass sufficiency and ability to maintain a healthy economy and society.  Canada still has options that other countries lost years ago but we'll lose them in the very same way if we don't decide to safeguard our ecology for the future.

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