World Population Growth Projections

World Population, estimated, actual, and projected: 1800-2100

Some people look at the graph on the right and conclude that the population appears to still be in the midst of exploding, and there are wildly different projections for what the population will be in the near future.    Some probably assume they left off another curve that keeps rising even faster.

Is that what you see?  Is that what this graph really shows?  It is a nice graph, for what it shows, but it doesn’t really show a lot, and it is interesting to find out how others have interpreted it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Population Growth is Not the Problem

I have a friend who believes that the high population of humans in the world (almost 7 billion in 2009) is a problem in and of itself, and the population growth is only making things worse.  I maintain that the population is not the right thing to focus on and that the real problems are elsewhere.

What are we honestly going to do about the size of the population and the rate of growth in order to have any sufficient impact on the real problems?

What is your guess about how overpopulated we are, assuming we are?  Are there 10 times too many people?  Would you advocate that we somehow eliminate some large number of people (9 out of 10 people!?) to reduce the population to what you believe is OK?  Of course not (or I certainly hope not, but I do worry about a few deranged extremists who believe that would be a good idea)! Read the rest of this entry »

World Population Extremes

I hear that the subject of World Population is a sensitive issue.  It essentially involves the touchy areas of reproduction, birth and death.  Basically sex and violence.   It is also a very complex issue, dragging in the total carrying capacity of the earth, projected rates of growth, the entire history of the world, evolution, life, the universe and just about everything else.

I’m going to charge ahead anyway because it is vitally important that we get this right and come to a common understanding of the facts and possibilities.  There are a lot of extreme views regarding these issues, and some strongly held beliefs in myths, it turns out, or alternatively, blind faith that it will all work out.  These extreme views have passionate believers, thus increasing the volatility of any attempt at rational discussion.

On the one hand, we have people who believe the planet is way over-populated, on the order of 5 or 10 times its carrying capacity, or even 20 times or 100 times.  Many of these people believe we are reproducing at a rate that effectively assumes we have infinite resources, and we will soon slam into a wall of impossible density and total environmental collapse.

On the other hand, we have people who believe the extreme opposite, that there is plenty of capacity on the Earth for many more people, on the order of 2 to 10 times more, or even 100 times more.   Generally, they expect that advances in technology will take care of all our problems, and that the more people we have, the more potential geniuses there will be to advance us even faster. Read the rest of this entry »