Thursday, June 22, 2017

Move Over

It was sometime around mid-May that the world's population broke the 7.5 billion mark.

In the 12,000 year history of civilization, it took most of that time, almost all of it in fact, for humankind to reach one billion, sometime around 1814. When I was born that one billion had swelled to a record 2.5 billion. In one lifetime, my own, that record has been broken by a factor of three.

Now it's predicted we'll add another half billion by 2023, barely another 6 years. 8 billion by 2023. Can you see where this is going?

The world’s population will break through the 8 billion mark in 2023, there are more men than women, and next year the number of over 60s will top 1 billion for the first time, according to the latest findings and forecasts from the United Nations annual population survey.

More than half of the global population growth by 2050 will come from sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility rates will persist at levels far higher than in the rest of the world, the UN predictions released on Wednesday show.

But wait, there's more. There's always more. By 2050 the population is expected to be 9.8 billion. That would be net growth of over 7 billion in just one century.

Here's the thing. Even if you have a reasonable expectation of still being around in 2050, I don't think you'll see mankind's numbers anywhere near 10 billion. My guess is that we'll see a massive, global collapse long before then. 

We're already consuming Earth's resources at 1.7 times the planet's carrying capacity. We, you and me, mankind are absolutely dependent on our biosphere providing more than it produces, much more. Earth Overshoot Day this year will be another record, falling on August 2nd. We're exceeding our planet's resource capacity sooner every year and the planet is looking awfully worn out.

In case you're wondering what may be in store in the next decade or two, the people who calculate Overshoot Day each year worked out that mankind first exceeded our then still healthy Earth's resource carrying capacity in the early 70s when we passed the three billion mark. We've been degrading the hell out of the place ever since.  Assuming that Earth could again sustain a human population of three billion, how do we get from eight billion down to three in a decade, maybe a bit more?


Anonymous said...

Any family having more than 2 kids constitute an environmental criminal.
No exceptions. Even for Al Gore's who has 4...

Toby said...

Over population scares me more than all other threats. Every time we solve a problem we wind up with more people which overwhelms our previous solution. Either people make a conscious choice to limit our populations or Nature will do it for us.

The Mound of Sound said...

We're at a disadvantage, Toby, in that, while on relative terms we're population "saints," on other intertwined issues such as rapacious consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, we're true sinners. That deprives us of any moral high ground from which to lecture others.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Wow, Toby---infringe on the birthright of popular individuals to engage in unbridled sexual activity?
Next thing you know you'll be churning out something about "collective responsibility" and implying that "EVERYONE is integral to the whole, that there are no 'special people' among us".