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World Population Grows Beyond 7 Billion

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the bigger-is-nor-better dept.

Earth 349

First time accepted submitter assertation writes in with a LA Times feature about the booming world population and the strain it puts on the environment and governments. "After remaining stable for most of human history, the world's population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years. The coming wave will reshape the planet, and the impact will be greatest in the poorest, most unstable countries."

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349 comments

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Good news everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740471)

This means more than 70 million are in the top 1%!

Bad news everyone (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740549)

It also means that you've only got a 0.0000000143% chance of getting that coveted first post.

Re:Good news everyone (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740603)

The top 1% is based on income, not population.

Re:Good news everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740641)

So then Steve Jobs wasn't a member since he only made $1 a year?

Re:Good news everyone (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740809)

I misspoke, I meant net worth.

Re:Good news everyone (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740653)

That still leaves 70,000,000. The order you sort things doesn't change their number.

Re:Good news everyone (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740841)

Maybe, maybe not.

If you have 100 people, and 50 of them are worth $1000 and 50 are worth $500. Where is the top 1%? It's not 1, it's 50.

Re:Good news everyone (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740687)

The top 1% is based on income, not population.

I may have found a contributing factor to you not being in the 1% ...

Re:Good news everyone (0, Offtopic)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740885)

Yet you aren't either. Likely because you don't actually understand how math works. You're using a simplistic equation that assumes everyone is worth different amounts, and thus you get a nice linear vector where you can chop off 1%. That's not likely true at all.

Re:Good news everyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741009)

Yet you aren't either. Likely because you don't actually understand how math works. You're using a simplistic equation that assumes everyone is worth different amounts, and thus you get a nice linear vector where you can chop off 1%. That's not likely true at all.

Question for you: What percent of the total population falls within the top 1%?

Hint: It's not a trick question.

Re:Good news everyone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741017)

LOL, nice attempt at justifying your stupidity. Go ahead, keep digging that hole.

Re:Good news everyone (4, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741107)

Unless I'm missing some hidden factor that forces groups of people's net worths to be exactly equal, then I'd say that "assuming everyone is worth a different amount" is a very valid assumption. Even if you magically redistributed everything to be exactly equal, that would end as soon as one person wanted extra pepperoni on their pizza.

Re:Good news everyone (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741171)

It's likely quite true, when you consider the range of possible net worths. You know how the probability of two real numbers being = is 0 unless they're eq? (If you'll forgive the LISPism...) Same thing -- the probability (without chicanery of some sort) that any two net worths are truly equal is very small. If they differ by even 10ppb (1c out of the $million or so you need to be in the top percentile), then they're different. 50 people having one exact amount?! Contrived example is contrived.

Now, certainly, if we're looking at "70 million in the top %", it's conceivable, even likely, there's a collision or two in there. But we don't care -- the only collision that matters is between person 70,000,000 and person 70,000,001, and the probability of that is already vanishingly small. (Much less the probability of your turd-brained 50-way collision.)

Re:Good news everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740859)

Global one child policy please..I'm not good with crowds.

There's 70 billion people of Earth (1)

objekt (232270) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741035)

Where are they hiding?

Re:There's 70 billion people of Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741151)

7 billion = 7,000,000,000 = 100%
700 million = 700,000,000 = 10%
70 million = 70,000,000 = 1%
7 million = 7,000,000 = .1%

See how that works?

god damn it (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740497)

Taco's wife needs to stop having kids.

Re:god damn it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741125)

Brown people, be they hispanic, black, or Indian, have ENTIRELY too much unprotected sex.

Colonization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740511)

It's time to start colonizing Mars, the Moon and other celestial objects. The http://mars-one.com/en/ project looks interesting.

Re:Colonization (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740721)

It's time to start colonizing Mars,

Antarctica is closer, not quite as harsh, yet a reasonably good engineering challenge.

I don't mean colonize in either the current forward military base where its more of a logistics achievement than an actual "colonization" nor do I mean some weird lovecraftian stuff or hollow earth flakery, but literal colonization complete with algae and fish farms for dining or whatever. Even if its never done the planning process would be pretty good training.

Even KSR's mars trilogy began with a year on Antarctica.

Re:Colonization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740897)

It's time to start colonizing Mars,

Antarctica is closer, not quite as harsh, yet a reasonably good engineering challenge.

I don't mean colonize in either the current forward military base where its more of a logistics achievement than an actual "colonization" nor do I mean some weird lovecraftian stuff or hollow earth flakery, but literal colonization complete with algae and fish farms for dining or whatever. Even if its never done the planning process would be pretty good training.

Even KSR's mars trilogy began with a year on Antarctica.

Yeah, I wish. More likely is that they'll just dome it up and burn fuel to generate heat and electricity to live the temperate zone life there.

Re:Colonization (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741087)

Yeah, I wish. More likely is that they'll just dome it up and burn fuel to generate heat and electricity to live the temperate zone life there.

Um, Antarctica or Mars? You've just kind of made my point for me.

Re:Colonization (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740939)

Oceans and deserts are even closer, and probably the investment needed to sustain a lot of people is smaller.

Re:Colonization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740955)

Problem with settling in Antarctica is we'll still be here, constrained by the available resources.

Re:Colonization (1)

sbenitezb (860819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741079)

Antarctica is boring and very restricted to military/scientific missions. A commercial/civil mission to Mars would attract a lot of interest by the media and help improve the technology and get the experience needed to settle somewhere else. Of course, we wouldn't be moving many people there, just enough to start a human colony.

Re:Colonization (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741147)

Ive seen far to many horror movies to EVER want to be any where near the arctic.

Re:Colonization (3, Interesting)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740727)

Let's just move Mars closer to the sun so it would be a more hospitable place.

leave! (2)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740537)

"Earth is too small a basket for mankind to keep all its eggs in." Robert A. Heinlein

Re:leave! (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740551)

B5... ...and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

Re:leave! (3, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740751)

B5... ...and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

The problem of course is it's going to be super hard to find funding and staff at the beginning since we know ahead of time what happens to B1-B4.

Re:leave! (1, Troll)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741143)

B5... ...and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

The problem of course is it's going to be super hard to find funding and staff at the beginning since we know ahead of time what happens to B1-B4.

Nah, it'll be fine. Remember, a war just ended. Gotta keep those factories in gear or risk recession!

good for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740541)

war is good for business

Re:good for business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740591)

Until it comes to your own business.

What nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740565)

"After remaining stable for most of human history, the world's population..."

Well, that already proves they have no idea what they're talking about. Do these morons really think there were no more people in 1800 CE than in 800 CE? The world's population has always grown exponentially.

Re:What nonsense (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740661)

The thing is, hundreds of years ago, the mortality rate was right up there with the birth rate. Even if you cancel out infant mortality with births, it was still pretty high.

If you had a family of 10, you were lucky if 3 survived. Often times, it was only 1 or 2 that survived, making a pretty break even population growth.

With the advent of medicine, however, mortality rates plummeted but birth rates did not.

Re:What nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740937)

Guess what, even today everybody dies. In all of human history, when left unchecked by war, famine or plague, populations grew, exponentially. As long as the absolute rate is low, people tend to fit a linear growth "curve", but seeing the exponential nature of the beast is just a matter of choosing the right scale. If you are studying biology and don't reach for the exponential function when you hear the word population, you're not doing it right.

Re:What nonsense (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741057)

With the advent of medicine, however, mortality rates plummeted but birth rates did not.

I'm not sure that's the case - at least not here in the US. If you go back to my parents generation all the families had 5-7 children without fail. Some had more than that (my grandfather on my mother's side came from a family of 14).

Fastforward to modern times. None of my aunts or uncles had more than 3 kids per family. Between my own generation I'm seeing more like 1 or 2 kids per family. Part of it may be the increased cost of raising children - part of it may be the increased number of women in the workplace (where each child is not only time off from work for recovery but without a parent at home each is another daycare bill). I'm sure a large part of it is simply the invention of birth control.

Regardless, birth rates per family (if not for the planet as a whole) seem to have come down significantly in the last 50 years.

Alarmist (5, Insightful)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740573)

The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years.

And fertility rates are dropping everywhere, and more people than ever are choosing to simply not have children. Of course by mentioning that, this article wouldn't be nearly as alarmist, so it was conveniently omitted.

Re:Alarmist (2, Insightful)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740655)

The population growth rate will explode again as more children are born of high birthrate religious parents and are increasingly high birthrate themselves. This slowing of population growth is only temporary.

Re:Alarmist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740675)

And fertility rates are dropping everywhere, and more people than ever are choosing to simply not have children. Of course by mentioning that, this article wouldn't be nearly as alarmist, so it was conveniently omitted.

Except in the shit hole countries contributing to the explosive growth.

Re:Alarmist (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740951)

Surely people aren't really born in waves like that anyway, especially not world-wide. How can it possibly be true that a particular generation is "just entering its childbearing years"? Why weren't the people who started bearing children last year or five years ago or ten years in that generation? Or to put it another way, wouldn't the statement "the biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years" have been just as true last year, and five years ago, and seven and a half years ago and 15 years ago and 23 years ago and 58 years ago?

Re:Alarmist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741001)

Actually this is mentioned in the article. And yes, I actually did RTFA.

Re:Alarmist (4, Insightful)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741189)

You are safe from overpopulation in the developed world, but it is still a major problem for the billions in the developing world.

Just Stop! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740587)

How many of those people starve to death everyday? People who cannot provide for their kids need to make a conscious effort to stop having them.

Re:Just Stop! (3, Informative)

teg (97890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740715)

How many of those people starve to death everyday? People who cannot provide for their kids need to make a conscious effort to stop having them.

It usually works the other way - when child mortality rate is high, you hedge your bets by getting more children so at least some grow up.

Re:Just Stop! (1, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740819)

The reason people in poverty have more children is in the hope that one of them will rise out of that misery, and at the very least grow to adulthood and have children of their own. But a most of their problems are a consequence of government corruption, not a true lack of food or medicine.

Most developed Asian nations, generally still more densely populated, are seeing fertility rates barely above 1. Hell, even China is starting to see the impact of population decline and has been experiencing the consequences of it's one-child policy. Europe has also seen marked population decline, especially if you don't count immigration. I think the US is one of the exceptions, where the more affluent population continues to have more than multiple children. And even then, it's hard to argue that we have any kind of population problem.

I'm not sure why the stories of a population explosion persist when it's long since been shown that it's not going to happen.

Re:Just Stop! (1, Troll)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740895)

I think the US is one of the exceptions, where the more affluent population continues to have more than multiple children.

LOL its the other way around, pretty intensely. High school dropout and no skills and no job = minimum 7 kids in the trailer, "career oriented woman" = no kids.

Re:Just Stop! (5, Interesting)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741013)

the us native-born reproductive rate is 2.

2.1 is required for the population to stay the same.

The US only has a growing population because of the higher birth rate among immigrants

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate#United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just Stop! (2)

crispylinetta (1639533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741075)

I think the US is one of the exceptions, where the more affluent population continues to have more than multiple children.

Can you share a source that cites just how many more than multiple? :)

Re:Just Stop! (4, Interesting)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741137)

I think the US is one of the exceptions, where the more affluent population continues to have more than multiple children.

The intelligent hardworking people I know have two, one, or no children. The dumbest and poorest just keep pushing them out. It's exactly like the movie Idiocracy.

It doesn't help that we have a social system that rewards low income high birth rate. My wife and I will have to make a tough decision when it comes to offspring #2. Can we afford it or not? If we can't, I'll get snipped and we'll just go on working to pay for other people's children through welfare, food stamps, WIC, EIC, Section 8, school lunch vouchers, head start, etc, etc, etc. Our standard of living would improve if we both just quit working and had more children.

Re:Just Stop! (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740855)

Starvation still exists, but global malnourishment has actually gone down.

Forgive me for going a bit partisan on this one issue (I don't belong to either party) but using the alarmism of the population boom generally comes from Democrats, who in turn also argue that genetically modified foods are evil. They're worried that people around the globe are starving while at the same time trying to stop food shipments to third world countries. I can't understand the hypocrisy on this issue. And when it comes to people fucking starving, we should ignore traditional party lines and think like decent human beings. Let the fucking people eat.

The reason the world isn't starving on the whole right now is because of agricultural science.

What problems? (2)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740589)

The only problem with exploding population is that it's not profitable to move all the food around so some people throw 50% away and some people starve.

Oh and as for governments, they don't scale. We need to start chopping everything up into smaller bits.

Solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740615)

Abortion, sterilization, genetic cleansing of sexual desires, genetic manufacture of population. All part of the big plan to make us dependent on the IFSP.

Discuss.

What a bunch of bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740623)

Generations don't come in waves. Children are not born only every 30 years. The human population has never been stable either. The absolute growth changes, but the factor by which an exponentially increasing population changes is always the same. It's half full one doubling time before it's full. That doesn't mean it's not on an "explosive" (exponential) growth curve before.

Re:What a bunch of bullshit (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740933)

Really, though, any given day, the largest number of people enter their childbearing years than ever in history, and that number is always greater than those leaving childbearing years.

Calling it a "generation" is a bit silly, but it's certainly a less wordy way of saying it that still sends the message.

Re:What a bunch of bullshit (2)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741047)

Actually, if this graph [wikipedia.org] is to be trusted, it's very far from an exponential growth. You can see two breaks: one at about -5000, where the population started growing; and one at about 1700, where the growth rate increased dramatically. Also a hint for another, more recent break (~1950?), where the growth rate increased again. (Note for the mathematically impaired: an exponential growth means a straight line in a log graphic. You can divide this graphic in 3-4 different straight lines, so you have 3-4 different growth rates at different points in time)

soylent green (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740631)

Its time for Soylent Green

100% serious.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740649)

....that if i had a button which if pressed, would kill every man, woman and child; I would push it without hesitation.

Re:100% serious.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740677)

but barring that, I'll just be sure not to have any children....

Re:100% serious.... (0, Troll)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740697)

You're an idiot.

Re:100% serious.... (1)

bwintx (813768) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740747)

But only once, obviously. Unless you're one of those computer-using cats I'm always seeing on YouTube.

Re:100% serious.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740765)

I'd be tempted press one that would instantly erase all superstitious beliefs (aka religion)

Re:100% serious.... (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740817)

....that if i had a button which if pressed, would kill every man, woman and child; I would push it without hesitation.

The problem with that is that you're effectively dooming three billion years of evolution to comparatively short term extinction.

Humanity may be killing vast percentages of the biome, and may be causing substantial short term damage to the ecosphere, but its also the best opportunity the planet has had, or likely will ever have, to getting off the planet. And life that doesn't get off the planet will end, period. The odds are there won't be a second chance. Could intelligence arise again? Its possible. Its also possible it has arisen before.

The problem is one of opportunity. Getting life off this rock doesn't take intelligence. It takes intelligence, the right series of events making that kind of capability important to be developed, *AND*, most importantly, it will require some hypothetical future species to have access to vast amounts of energy.

Guess what, we've used up virtually all of the dense sources of energy that can be recovered without technology. The conditions that led to the development of coal, oil and natural gas involve geological and environmental conditions that in concert won't likely happen again.

So your short-sighted action would likely save one small potential set of life that otherwise wouldn't have a chance to exist, but would essentially guarantee an end to the entire chain of life in another half billion or billion years.

Re:100% serious.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741049)

Evolution is not getting faster, or smarter or even being able to build a civilization. Is being able to survive. If we by our own idiocy don't survive, then we weren't better by evolution terms.

Re:100% serious.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741173)

no, you stupid pissant... if all humanity were to go extict all other life would return to before we came along and fucked everything up

your small minded opinoin that 'would essentially guarantee an end to the entire chain of life in another half billion or billion years.' is totally wrong

go jump off a tall building TGD

We could easily stop this (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740657)

By bringing middle classes to developing nations. People who don't have to have litters to ensure that one child survives have one or two children, below the replacement rate. People who have careers and money to spend and cultural activities to take part in don't spend so much time screwing. And when they do, they realize that having extra children will prevent them from enjoying those luxuries.

In short, the fight against overpopulation is the same as the fight against global inequality.

Re:We could easily stop this (0)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740743)

This is why I call the birth control pill the greatest boon to mankind since the smallpox vaccine. Indeed, I would say more: it's the greatest boon to mankind since agriculture itself. Agriculture allows civilization but dictates rapid population growth; birth control counter-acts the rapid population growth and resulting resource shortages and general squalor.

Re:We could easily stop this (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741025)

This is why I call the birth control pill the greatest boon to mankind since the smallpox vaccine.

Except it means that the sensible people have few or no kids while the nutty cultists continue to have dozens. Doesn't take long for that to result in a world of nutty cultists and few sensible people.

Re:We could easily stop this (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741095)

Doesn't take long for that to result in a world of nutty cultists and few sensible people.

Only about 52 years apparently.

Re:We could easily stop this (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740959)

By bringing middle classes to developing nations.

That reduces population growth, but causes an explosion of per-capita resource consumption. That's not exactly sustainable either.

Re:We could easily stop this (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740997)

People who have careers and money to spend and cultural activities to take part in don't spend so much time screwing.

Unlikely. "everyone knows" if you get a bachelor pad downtown in the hip urban areas then you'll get laid every night. Supposedly. Also see endless "I can't date until I buy a junker car" and "I can't get laid until I get an apartment and move out of mom's basement" and "rich guys get all the chicks" and "I need to get a job after school to pay for dating if boy and clothes so boys notice me if girl" etc etc.

Aside from examples and logic, if its anecdote time, it certainly applies to the first half of my life... I can't even think of a situation where I didn't get laid where I thought to myself, "self, if only I was unemployed, had no money, and never went anywhere or did anything, then, right now I'd be on top of her"

Re:We could easily stop this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741005)

A middle class person in a first world countries uses up as many natural resources as a few large families in a 3rd world country.

The environment wouldn't be able to take that kinda pressure.

Re:We could easily stop this (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741077)

Bringing billions of people around the world to the middle class is much more difficult than controlling population growth.

TED (5, Informative)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740683)

A TED talk on this issue sheds some light into the flawed overpopulation mindset.

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html [ted.com]

The presenter does a decent job of showing how religion has very little to do with amount of children per woman. Bear in mind, the overpopulation crowd (primarily left leaning) blame religion (another target of the left leaning in society) for a supposed population problem.

The issue with blaming religion is brought to light in the TED talk, and also the fallacy of overpopulation theories overall.
All in all, the video is well worth watching, I must say.

Re:TED (0, Troll)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740983)

Religion is what got us to this place to begin with! Anyone with a rational brain can see the consequences of having too many kids. Religion teaches irrational behavior.

3 1/2 Billion Women... (4, Funny)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740699)

and still none for the average /.er. ;-(

The thing about nature... (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740705)

Nature has a way of equalizing the population to it's confined space. We may not like it, but it will happen one way or the other. I like how the video tries to tell you that the problem is solvable by government action. It isn't by any realistic measure. The more you provide resources to people, the more they will consume, and the worse the problem becomes. Wars, while not ideal, do a fairly good job of removing large numbers of the population quickly, as does desease. However, we like to think that to be civilized we should do all we can to stop both. So instead we allow people to starve to death... Yea, humanity.

Interestingly.... (1)

freshlimesoda (2497490) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740713)

per Hans Rosling in http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html [ted.com] we have already peaked the world population.. worth a watch.

Re:Interestingly.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741123)

If world population has peaked, how can it still go up?

That's the thing about a J-curve... (2)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740719)

If the present day is the right hand side, things always look more stable in the past. It's always been a J-curve, though.

fwiw (2)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740735)

UN's "medium" estimate is that population will reach about 10 billion and then plateau. Of course, projecting population 90 years in the future is an inexact science at best. On thought on resource consumption: an individual human being's resource consumption is, to a large degree, a factor of his or her standard of living. Consider the per capita resource consumption of developed, western countries vs. sub-Saharan Africa. One could reasonably argue that it will prove impossible to maintain the current global mean standard of living as population increases, ergo environmental stress may not end up increasing linearly with population.

Agent Smith (0)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740749)

Didn't he say something about a virus?????

Population Cap (3, Interesting)

DeeEff (2370332) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740767)

Obligatory TED links, that might actually be a bit more insightful than TFA.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html [ted.com]
http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html [ted.com]

While I am skeptical that we'll have enough resources either way, I think that humans are going to have to adapt hard or the entire race will just fade away. This won't necessarily be a problem for a few generations, but there is very little left in this world that is untouched, or that we can leave untouched. Solutions to the energy crisis aside, food and water are still major concerns, and we can't infinitely increase the amount of farming, because we'll also need to increase our living spaces; however, this is unless we go full Tokyo and build above and below ourselves and learn to live in cramped situations. Even still, it will be an incredibly difficult feat to convince most Westerners that they aren't allowed cars anymore and that they need to walk or use trains to go to work. I don't mind myself, since I'm a student who uses trains and busing all the time, but few people want to give up the luxury of driving to work in favour of using a subway system (similar to how most east asian countries operate).

In the meantime, I'm going to be developing my zombie formula so that I can do my part to end overpopulation. Call me if you can help, I'm trying to put a patent together so I can sue others who want to destroy the Earth while the zombies and lawyers (?difference) take over.

Re:Population Cap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741003)

Solutions to the energy crisis aside, food and water are still major concerns, and we can't infinitely increase the amount of farming, because we'll also need to increase our living spaces

There's a fairly simple change that we can make to our farming strategy that will go a long ways towards feeding a lot more people than we have today. People won't like it, but it will work. Basically, we need to stop eating animals. Look at the resources necessary to grow 1lb of food versus those needed to produce 1lb of meat...there's a lot of inefficiency there that, if eliminated, could support a lot more people.

The main problem...most people would prefer a global war that wipes out 2/3 of the population rather than living in a world where they can't eat meat.

Little left untouched (2)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741039)

"There is very little left in this world that is untouched, or that we can leave untouched"

I'm not sure how true this is. In terms of natural resources (mines, forestry, oil) things will get tougher. However, there are lots of places with places for people.
However, most people tend to
a) Prefer to live in the big, already-crowded cities
b) Not want to start new towns

Technology allows us to cultivate land that was previously quite un-usable. The big problem is that we're dirty pests that tend to f*** up said land. If we could clean up our act ecologically, perhaps we could integrate better into the large amount of landmass that's still available.

Re:Population Cap (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40741043)

You've got a couple of errors in your thinking. Some factoids to help you out:
- With a population density that of Paris, France, you could fit the entire population of the world into a space a bit smaller than the US State of Texas. The world is pretty damn big.
- A fusion-scale solution to worldwide energy problems also provides the solution to countless other problems, fresh water included.
- Infinite increases in farming are not needed - the issue is and will continue to be with distribution, not production. In other words, it's hard to feed people who are being starved by their government.
- You have a massive misconception about "the luxury to drive to work". Polling routinely indicates that people prefer public transit, as long as it is reasonably convenient. The US, being the worst offender on the reasonableness front, has some of the most poorly designed cities on Earth. Consequently, public transport in the US generally sucks.

Re:Population Cap (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741063)

There is still a *lot* of empty space. Also, if we managed to convert even a fraction of the developing world to the level of output that US farms have, we have plenty of food. Mostly the issue is water and sanitation.

But even then... the real issue is energy. We can deal with getting water to where it is needed if energy is cheap enough.

Re:Population Cap (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741097)

Solutions to the energy crisis aside, food and water are still major concerns, and we can't infinitely increase the amount of farming, because we'll also need to increase our living spaces; however, this is unless we go full Tokyo and build above and below ourselves and learn to live in cramped situations.

Everything comes down to ready supply of cheap energy. If we have that, nothing much matters.

With cheap energy you can grow food indoors without any farm land. With cheap energy you can build huge skyscrapers where everyone has more living space than they do today. With cheap energy you can dig up all the materials you want, recycle what you can't find, and ship more down from space if you really have to.

Which is probably why so many on the left hate cheap energy so much.

Population growth (1)

ravenswood1000 (543817) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740773)

It is a very significant possibility that at this growth we will be starving ourselves to death. There is only so much to go around. The question is, how many and who?

Re:Population growth (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740905)

Malnourishment has been going down steadily for decades. And people have made the claims that the world will starve because of population growth for decades.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Population-Bomb-Paul-Ehrlich/dp/1568495870 [amazon.com]

Those claims continue to prove false.

Re:Population growth (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741093)

Err, they've been saying that since Malthus at least, so for centuries.

A little late, isn't it? (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740781)

It's not "the Coming Wave," we're right in the midst of it, and have been for some time. It's not in front of us, we're well into it. That's not to say it won't get much, much worse, but it's very important to realize that we have entered the effects of overpopulation.

Just ask the Atlantic Cod fisheries, the Pacific garbage patch, that dry lake somewhere in the former USSR - heck, there are too many to list.

Total, Ugly, Disaster (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740835)

Most people simply never understood the notion of the population bomb. Now that bomb is exploding. A few months back some distraught fellow ran into a building shooting everyone that he could and apparently had left behind messages about over population and what is about to occur. I suspect that he was driven off his rocker because nobody wanted to hear him.
                    We now have a republican party that firmly denies global warming. They don't want to confront the lock between population, pollution and warming. No political candidate dares address the topic of population control. It is political suicide to even approach the topic. All the while we have some people and many businesses insisting on allowing illegal immigration which raises population within our borders.
                    We need regulations that strictly govern who is allowed to reproduce and how many babies can be born. That is unpleasant and almost unthinkable but it must be done. And we will need a very strong military to keep invasions from happening as a great storm of starvation approaches nations with even greater population issues than our own. Some of these nations will start death camps to reduse their populations it is going to happen.

Re: Total, Ugly, Disaster (3, Insightful)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740967)

"We need regulations that strictly govern who is allowed to reproduce and how many babies can be born. That is unpleasant and almost unthinkable but it must be done." *** And may I suggest we begin the sterilization with YOU!

Hans says no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40740875)

Over at TED, Hans Rosling has a fantastic presentation of why he thinks the world's pop will plateau at 10 billion. That's still a LOT of people, but there appears to be hope...

Get... (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 2 years ago | (#40740935)

...off...my....lawn!

The 6 foot virus (0)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741081)

It will consume the world till it consumes itself.

We're all going to die! (5, Interesting)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741103)

"This natural inequality of the two powers, of population, and of production of the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that appears to me insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society."

Thomas Malthus, 18th century.

People have been saying that the "end is near" since human beings developed speech. None have been right. Ockam's razor and the law of induction tells me they won't be in the future.

Birthrate... (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#40741193)

The birthrate will in the long term tend toward one birth per person (or two children per woman given a 50:50 sex ratio). The only question is whether this happens because most children that are born die of famine or violence before they get the opportunity to reproduce or whether it happens by a more benign mechanism.

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