History of the Human Population

I watched this program on NOVA last night…

…which had the following to say about our world’s population:

0 AD – 300 million people
1000 AD – 310 million people (and growing at a rate of .1% per year)
1800 AD – 1 billion people (65% Asian, 21% European, only 1% in North America)
1927 AD – 2 billion people
1960 AD – 3 billion
1974 AD – 4 billion
1987 AD – 5 billion
1999 AD – 6 billion (61% Asian, Europe 12%, Africa 12%, Latin America 9%, North America 5%)
2050 AD – it’s estimated that we’ll have 9 billion people.

Well well well, that’s alotta people.

Also, they were talking about how, in Industrialized countries, there is this differentia between the amount of people dying and the amount of babies being born. For example, Japanese women are currently going through their feminist-type movement. They’re getting married older and having kids much later in life, if at all. So while the adult population gets older (the Japanese allegedly live to be some of the oldest people in the world now, with a life expectancy of about 82-85), there are not a sufficient amount of children being born to sustain those old people (i.e. you need children to grow up to 20-40 year olds who pay taxes and therefore support the elderly). Additionally, there will soon be a shortage of young adults entering the workforce to sustain Japan’s current level of production, so the country will be hit with a major blow to it’s economic prosperity. The same thing is happening in Europe and other Industrialized countries.

Except for the US. Here, while our children aren’t being born quickly enough either, we have plenty of immigrants coming in to fill that gap, so we level out. Asian and European countries tend to be adamantly opposed to “mixing” their native heritages, but here in the US it’s all about mixing. So we’re currently the only modernized country who’s sustaining the amount of people we need to keep our current lifestyle.

Not that that’s necessarily a good thing. We also produce 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases and a child born today will, in his/her lifetime, consume and discard as much as 30 children would in India.

On the other hand, in Africa and various other third world countries, AIDS is killing off all of the adults. So you’re left with a huge population of children too young to care for themselves, barely anyone in the prime working/reproducing ages, and then a handful of elderlies who made it through, with no one to take care of them.

So the issue is that we’ve got too many people on the world, we’re growing at unprecedented rates (which mathematically only makes sense, once you hit 1 billion, and then begin to double that and double that, well, pretty soon it’ll just get out of control) and basically there is only so much “world” to sustain us. There’s only so much oxygen and water and physical space. However, if we slow down at drastic rates, which all of the current wealthy countries are doing (with the exception of the US) then we lose our standard of living, which-let’s face it-no one is really willing to do. At least not on a large scale.

Here’s a story about what happens when the population exceeds the lands ability to sustain them.

Here’s a little slideshow regarding our population chart throughout history.

Here’s some examples of what the standard of living is like around the world, in basic, possession-based illustration.

And here’s a quiz that is really more of a “can you believe these statistics” sort of thing.

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