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Earth Stats News

Earth's Population To Hit 7 Billion This Year 461

Posted by timothy
from the someone-alert-paul-ehrlich dept.
MikeChino writes "The UN Population Division just announced that the world's human population will hit 7 billion by Halloween 2011. The increase of one billion people in the past 12 years is worrying, especially since the global population only reached one billion total in the early 19th century. In the next 20 years, our population growth is predicted to rise to 8 billion people as our demand for food increases by 50 percent, water by 30 percent and energy by 50 percent." Not everyone finds it to be worrying per se.
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Earth's Population To Hit 7 Billion This Year

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  • by Concern (819622) * on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:27AM (#36809898) Journal

    This only ends one way, and any fool can see it.

    But sure, argue both sides. Have as many kids as you want. I couldn't guess their odds of living to 70, but I am willing to bet that this is that "magic" generation, and they will see suffering and mass death unprecedented in all of human history.

    • Population decline (Score:5, Informative)

      by Compaqt (1758360) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:38AM (#36810022) Homepage

      Given decreases in TFR, it's possible the world will experience a population decline [wikipedia.org] this century.

      The total fertility rate [wikipedia.org] is below replacement level for many countries of the world. The main exception is sub-Saharan Africa.

      Most of the Anglo- and Eurosphere is in decline. The US is in decline natively, and only growing due to immigration.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Don't worry, we are finding ways [enenews.com] to raise infant mortality [coupmedia.org]...

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The total fertility rate is below replacement level for many countries of the world. The main exception is sub-Saharan Africa.

        And Asia. India, for example, is increasing rapidly. They really need to get a handle on it because it is ultimately keeping people there poor. The tradition is to have as many children as possible, but that only reduces the resources available to each one and pushes up the infant mortality rate.

        Europe and the US have been lucky enough to peek early thanks to increasing prosperity, but we never had massive over-population problems.

        • by Compaqt (1758360) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @10:27AM (#36811280) Homepage

          India's TFR is declining as well. Granted population continued to increase due to previous high TFRs, but it also seems headed toward 2 or below.

          "The government said that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) across the country had declined to 2.6 in 2008 from 2.9 in 2005." From one of the first hits [indianexpress.com] on Google [google.com].

          That's a huge decrease in just a few years. 0.3 points in 3 years. The same link says half the Indian states are at replacement level (2.1).

          Also from the 1st Google SERP, 7 Indian states are below replacement level [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        7-8 children in Africa... and they're supposedly starving? How about having less kids? Fuck, my kids would be starving, too, if I had 8 kids.

        • by gutnor (872759)
          They are *actually* starving, and yet they live in one of the richest place on earth. Lack of education, mass rape, continuous war, very low life expectancy, chaos at every level (state, infrastructure, law, health) ... They are not having kid for pleasure, they are having kids as a form of basic survival instinct.
    • This only ends one way, and any fool can see it.

      But sure, argue both sides. Have as many kids as you want. I couldn't guess their odds of living to 70, but I am willing to bet that this is that "magic" generation, and they will see suffering and mass death unprecedented in all of human history.

      Doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!!!!

    • by osu-neko (2604) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:50AM (#36810162)

      This only ends one way, and any fool can see it.

      Indeed. Considering the lack of imagination and thinking skills required to only see one possibility, it's unsurprising that any fool sees it that way. Intelligent people, on the other hand, see many possibilities, because they keep thinking even after seeing the first one.

      But sure, argue both sides. Have as many kids as you want. I couldn't guess their odds of living to 70, but I am willing to bet that this is that "magic" generation, and they will see suffering and mass death unprecedented in all of human history.

      Welcome to the vast club of people who've made this same determination over the millennia.

    • by RsG (809189) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:53AM (#36810204)

      Actually, from an article on energy production I read a while back, the current projection is for the population to stabilize at 9 billion by midcentury.

      (Source) [straightdope.com] It's mostly about energy sources, but it cites population projection figures in the third paragraph.

      The reason given is rising standard of living. People living in abject poverty (and I don't mean first world slums, I mean abject poverty which is something most slashdotters have never seen firsthand) have lots of kids. Raise them out of poverty to a standard of living that includes such luxuries as medicine, clean water, adequate food and shelter and they have fewer kids. This is human nature, and it's as true for the western world as it is elsewhere. Our population growth didn't slow until our conditions improved, so why should we expect otherwise elsewhere?

      Further to this, it is not necessary for the first world to elevate the developing world in order to accomplish this. They're doing that by themselves. We tend to have a very nineteenth century attitude to the rest of the planet, believing that it is only through our guidance that they can rise above savagery, but the reality is that with the exception of countries held in poverty by war, corruption or constant disaster, most of the developing world is quite capable of elevating themselves, and are doing exactly that. Note the qualifier about "war, corruption or disaster" preventing this; the Congo remains a bloody mess as do many of it's neighbours, but they aren't the only type of developing nation.

      So we will eventually hit population stability. Now the catch is that the global demand for energy will more than double in the process. Given that many of our energy sources are either environmentally disastrous or finite, this is going to become a problem, as is competition for other natural resources. So we're not out of the woods, but Malthusian predictions about population growth are as wrong now as they were when they were new.

      • Gee is that all? (Score:4, Informative)

        by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @10:15AM (#36811160)

        We just have to raise Africa out of poverty? That should be easy right?

        Considering it was just last week I saw a report on the news about the refugee camps in Kenya. There is now 500,000 people in those camps. Half a freaking million. Also many of the camps have been around for 20 years. Twenty freaking years. There was a story about people that were BORN in the refugee camps, and are still there as adults!

        Am I the only one that sees this and goes "WTF!"

        On the whole Africa is one messed up place, between war, famine, corruption, exploitation, genocide, plague, lawlessness, lack of anything infrastructure, education, health care, dictators, racial hatred, etc... the place is about as messed up as a place can possibly be. It has been receiving aid from both countries and individuals for decades and decades and there has even been some UN "interventions" (though not nearly enough in my mind).

        Anyway I am not offering up any solutions, as if I had one I would be trying to do something about it. That assumes there are "solutions" to this sort of thing. People have been trying to fix Africa for a long time with no success. The fact that they have so many kids, seems crazy to me (but of course it hard to judge never having been in that situation). So ya, I'm not going to hold my breath for an African solution to population issues.

        • by corbettw (214229)

          the place is about as messed up as a place can possibly be. It has been receiving aid from both countries and individuals for decades and decades

          Wow, so giving people free money and food doesn't help them out of poverty? Imagine that.

          Let Africa fix their own problems. They're adults, they can handle it. The sooner we stop babying them and pretending that all of their problems are everyone else's fault instead of their own responsibility to deal with, the better off they (and the rest of the world) will be.

    • Review your math.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mathinker (909784) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:54AM (#36810218) Journal

      The second derivative of the world population has been negative for a while now. In other words, this will end with the population stabilizing at some level. Quite possibly (but, of course, not certainly) without any catastrophic natural or human-made disaster.

      Probably not what you were thinking?

    • by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @09:18AM (#36810534) Homepage
      Suffering and mass death has a lot of precedent in human history. Why do you think it took so long to reach the first billion?
    • by GooberToo (74388)

      An interesting logical offshoot of such predictions, will the masses hold religious organizations responsible for the reckless promotion of boundless reproduction? Will people demand the Pope's head on a stick after watching million die a miserable death knowing the dead and dying would have never suffered had responsible sanity been promoted rather than reckless, illogical, and outright dangerous concepts of sex and reproduction?

  • by improfane (855034) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:35AM (#36809986) Journal

    I must be old and grumpy and cynical.

    Humans consistently underestimate exponential growth. If you have a bigger population, it will grow faster.

    Who honestly thinks humans are immune from population cycles of the animal kingdom? of overpopulation killoff? We're due for a war soon. War is just human's way of normalizing the population for resources.

    I don't want kids and it annoys me when I see massive families. What does that make me? A dead end in genetic material or "Idiocracy" in the making?

    • by jo42 (227475)

      What does that make me?

      Someone with a brain that actually uses it.

      Humanity has to limit the explosive population growth and the raping of the planet's finite resources -- if it wants to survive past the end of this century.

    • I must be old and grumpy and cynical.

      Humans consistently underestimate exponential growth. If you have a bigger population, it will grow faster.

      Who honestly thinks humans are immune from population cycles of the animal kingdom? of overpopulation killoff? We're due for a war soon. War is just human's way of normalizing the population for resources.

      I don't want kids and it annoys me when I see massive families. What does that make me? A dead end in genetic material or "Idiocracy" in the making?

      This annoys the everloving hell out of me.

      We are genuinely looking at exponential growth. More people = more mating pairs = faster population growth. And it is only going to get worse.

      I'm not yet at the point where I'd advocate mandatory sterilization or zero population growth policies...

      But, at the same time, I think it's downright asinine that we're still encouraging people to be fruitful and multiply. Assorted churches are still against birth control. Assorted fundamentalist groups are trying to outl

      • by tmosley (996283)
        My God there's a lot of death worship going on around here.

        If you read between the lines, you would see that 8 billion is predicted to be the PEAK. Humans aren't dumb animals. We don't breed when resources are rare. Further, we aren't even going to be resource limited. We also cut back on breeding when children cost to much, as is the case in advanced nations. More nations are becoming that way, shifting from rural subsistence agriculture (which requires a lot of children), to urban division of labo
        • We are way past sustainable resource usage due to our population already. Of course we breed when resources are rare. We have been doing it for decades.
        • Excellent point.

          All these doomsayers always point to their exponential growth charts which have all but been debunked, when you look at how humans adapt in the face of adversity. We stop or severely curtail our growth when resources are rare, and/or more expensive. The other thing we do, is invent our way out of the situation. In spite of all this...in spite of the fact that the earth's population is getting older (which while a good thing for longevity; it's bad for reproductive means), every other d
        • Humans aren't dumb animals. We don't breed when resources are rare.

          You really believe that?

          Further, we aren't even going to be resource limited.

          Yes we are. Maybe not at 8 billion... But eventually we will be.

          For the time being, we're pretty much limited to the resources on this planet. And they are finite. Give it a little more time and a little more technology, and maybe we can gather resources from the rest of the solar system - but they're also finite. Breed enough people, and you will hit those limits. It's just a matter of timing.

          We also cut back on breeding when children cost to much, as is the case in advanced nations.

          I must not live in an advanced nation then...

          People with a lot of kids make the news because they are so RARE, not because they are common.

          I did not single out people with a lot o

    • by paziek (1329929)

      It makes you into example as to how evolution eliminates those that aren't fit. And you are helping it by yourself. Kudos to you.
      I also see that there is a lot more people than it was 100 years ago, but there is still plenty of food that is thrown away, just to not over-saturate market; or limits in how much you can produce, fined if you fail to comply. At least here in EU. There are places that don't use any modern technology in crop cultivation, so there is room for improvement too. We don't know what fut

    • We created anti-biotics, pesticides, irrigation, the agricultural revolution. We have the ability to completely transform any habitat to suit our own. We chop down the rainforest (the earth's lungs) to plant millions of acres of soy, sugar, and other cash crops. We divert the mightiest of rivers and dam them, laying waste to natural cycles that held true for thousands of years. When all environments are covered with humanity, we will move to the oceans to harvest what is left of their bounty. Even if we hav
      • And every single thing you listed is fueled by oil. Seen the prices for that lately? Seen the effect of that on the economy, on food prices? And they ain't gonna go down. Oil has peaked, production is on an undulating plateau for a couple of years now, with the major producers being in decline. Oil fueled our decoupling from natural population cycles, with the cheap oil being depleted, we'll be back where we started pretty damn soon.
        • The next frontier will be natural gas. There is plenty of natural gas in the middle east (and else where). After that there is coal. Electric cars will proliferate over the next 20 years. Even Solar power plants are picking up steam. Don't forget about nuclear. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and others are in the advanced stages to build dozens of nuclear power plants. Some people might get hungrier, but they won't breed any less.
          • Well, in non-human biological systems, populations rarely crash because fertility goes down, but rather because mortality skyrockets. And that's what is going to get us - what part of the world population can actually afford to transition away from a completely oil-addicted system?
      • by jimrthy (893116)
        I can't tell whether you're being deliberately sarcastic or just incredibly stupid. So, kudos if it's the former.
    • by jimrthy (893116)
      War doesn't really have much impact on population. Starvation and disease are the real brakes.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      We're due for a war soon.

      You mean those dust-ups in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia don't count? Besides that, the most horrific war so far in human history killed about 75 million people, which is a mere 10% of 7 billion people.

      There are 2 real solutions to the problem:
      1. Government policies making it difficult-to-impossible for parents to have lots of kids (the Chinese approach). The biggest drawback of this is that societies with a strong sense of gender roles may engage in infanticide in order to ensure they end up

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Besides that, the most horrific war so far in human history killed about 75 million people, which is a mere 10% of 7 billion people.

        Oops - obvious math error: Make that 1% of 7 billion people.

    • Personally, you can leave behind two forms of legacy after your death.

      1. Children
      2. Knowledge.

      Spawning children is ok so long as the give back to their community in a positive way for the rest of humanity. They also have the capability to contribute to the pool of knowledge.

      Knowledge. It may be in the form of wealth creation, education, research, etc. But an individual such as yourself can make up your shortcomings with knowledge in place of having a large family. If you feel confident that your contributio

  • They add about 2 million to the population here every year. Africa's population is set to double in 30 years. My advice, buy land. Food will be worth more than gold.
    • And land will not give you any sufficient food, as we are already deep in overshoot regarding a sustainable food production - to keep up our production rates, we deplete fossil aquifers, we burn 9 kJ of our declining fossil fuel reserves for 1 kJ of food produced and we deplete our soils, leading to an increasing need for limited resources (cv. phosphate depot depletion) to keep the soil chemistry going. To top it off, fisheries are in massive decline, with many local collapses already having happened. Fun
  • Seven Billion is about two Billion too much, a fact that Pope Benedict should bear in mind the next time he speaks against contraception. Still, I don't suppose he will ever go hungry or thirsty.

    Ganty

  • Start colonizing other worlds, encourage more and more birth rates, turn the Earth into a Hive World and then spread across the galaxy, we have to do something otherwise the Orks, Eldar, Tyranids, Tau and all the others will wipe us out.
  • by hansraj (458504) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @08:54AM (#36810220)

    The US census bureau projects March next year to be the time when world population hits 7 billion [census.gov].

    • by Alomex (148003)

      The UN Population Division predictions are usually overly pessimistic. This allows them to meet regularly in posh places to issue a (downward) revision. They have been doing this for nearly twenty years.

  • Earth self-regulates (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AlexiaDeath (1616055) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @09:10AM (#36810436)
    We wont even need a war that becomes inevitable once resources get scarce. No, nature will take care of it first. The more there are people, the more densely populated the world, the more likely is a proper pandemic. People go every day from one end of the world to another. All you need is a germ that is highly contagious, lethal and has a 3 day latency period and most of that 7 billion will drop dead and it wont even take very long. This is bound to occur within this century. All the highly sterile environments we insist on keeping are perfect breeding grounds for such a disease.
    • by DarthVain (724186)

      War will self-regulate. Once there becomes shortages in everything, particularly Land, Water, Food, Energy, people will start to get a bit antsy for war.

    • Nonsense. While I'd agree the scenario you raise is possible, it's not at all "bound to occur", let alone within this century. The last time anything like that occurred was over 600 years ago, and the medicine, as such, didn't really exist at all. So, add to your doomsday scenario "untreatable". We also didn't have public health services, who, upon seeing people dropping like flies, are going to institute dramatic quarantine measures to compartmentalize the damage.

      We also have very few "highly sterile e

      • 600 years ago? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic [wikipedia.org] Put that into modern globalized world. Medicine takes time to catch up and if there is something that has a rapid spread and 3 day latency most of the infection would be done by the time people understand something is wrong. And for a killer bacteria to develop only one needs to survive sterilization and breed and yes of course there are people who drop their antibiotics way too soon and use all sorts of aggressive cleaning techniques on househo
  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @09:14AM (#36810466)

    If you want some arguments for growth, Becker and Posner discussed this a while ago. Becker came out more strongly for population growth.

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2011/05/does-the-earth-have-room-for-10-billion-people-posner.html [becker-posner-blog.com]
    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2011/05/yes-the-earth-will-have-ample-resources-for-10-billion-people-becker.html [becker-posner-blog.com]

  • by retroworks (652802) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @09:41AM (#36810784) Homepage Journal
    With the rapid growth of the internet, and free hi-def porn, males will increasingly re-interpret Onan and his 'seed' in Genesis 38:9-10. At least, I give the porn industry as much of a chance of solving this as Al Gore. You do have to give Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter credit for both having one-child and making it ok for men to lust in our hearts at babes.
  • by Targon (17348) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @09:45AM (#36810832)

    I know I'll get down rated for this, but with the concerns of global food supplies not being enough, and the growing global population, should we REALLY be trying to save people from starvation who will never be able to provide for themselves? Starvation is the thing that keeps societies from growing faster than the increase in food production, so why encourage third world countries to continue to increase their populations when they can't feed themselves?

    There is a basic concept, if you have a resource, trade it for a resource you do not have, and that includes money. If there is an entire nation that has no resources to trade and they are not capable of growing their own food, then the population will starve, the population will go down, and things balance out. Helping rebuild after a natural disaster is one thing, but if after 20+ years a country can't recover, then why should we continue to help? The world as a whole does not need money pits, and the world as a whole does not need a "food pit" that will never be able to trade resources for food.

    Helping people in your own country would make far more sense, since if you can elevate THOSE people out of poverty, they may be able to become productive and to add value to society as a whole. If you want to adopt people and bring them into your own country, then fine, bring them in, and make them productive.

    • Well said, sir. Political correctness be damned.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      should we REALLY be trying to save people from starvation who will never be able to provide for themselves?

      Possibly... if you consider the desperate measures a starving country might use to get food. Especially if they put a religious loony in charge who makes great promises if only the infidel can be cleansed from the planet.

      But you're right in that throwing food at them isn't really solving the problem... but it's definitely worth educating the population of such a country about basic economics, birth control, and how to live life sustainably.

      • Birth control is the key. A country that cant feed itself probably has a shortage of medical services too. And without modern medicine giving birth is dangerous business, so any female would be very much interested in limiting the birth rate in a way that wouldn't depend on the males who only get the fun bits and none of the pain of giving birth. Giving away free 5 year birth control implants for example would save the world from many an extra mouth.
    • by vlm (69642)

      Helping rebuild after a natural disaster is one thing, but if after 20+ years a country can't recover, then why should we continue to help?

      To build a political powerbase? Given the choice of "vote in my support at the UN about something you don't really care about anyway" vs "no soup for you"...

      Works on a smaller scale too, from an engineering standpoint New Orleans should be abandoned, but as long as there's voters there, thats not gonna happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ryxxui (1108965)
      I might agree with you it it wasn't for the fact that every part of the world that actually has abject poverty (the kind you talk about, where the country on a whole has no resources) has that poverty because the West (Europe and later the United States) caused it. We invaded them, and tried to force cultures on them that they didn't want, need, or understand. Then we took everything they had, told some of them that they were in charge and that we'd back them up if anyone tried to screw with them, and cam
    • by aeortiz (1498977)

      This is fine unless you or your loved ones are the ones who are starving. Remember Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal?

  • This will be the third time population growth caused a major change in society.

    The first time happen when population grew larger than the bicameral mind state of man could handle. We created Consciousness, the ability to create and use higher level abstractions. Higher than the base level animals share. In doing so we gave up the benefits of the bicameral mind in its ability to be in touch with nature (i.e. how crabs know to move inland before a hurricane makes landfall, Monarch butterflies every fourth gen

  • It is logistic growth... the earth is finite in size, and therefore has a limited capacity to sustain a population. The population may very well continue to grow, but can only asymptotically approach that threshold, rather than there ever being an abrupt change in population growth caused by exceeding the earth's population capacity too rapidly.

    The actual value of this asymptote will become clearer as we actually do approach the population threshold. Some claims currently are that this threshold lies

  • The slashdot crowd should definitly read "Limits to Growth" [wikipedia.org] !
    Twice a month there is a /. topic for which the most insightfull answer would be a key point from this book, but I barely see any reference to it.

    Yes... it is sometimes called Club of Rome report and usually one think he knows what it is about after having read some random rant about it, written by people who haven't read the study either... Please, trust me: people really need to understand what it is about.

    I do have read "Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update", the 3rd edition of this report written by Meadows' team.

    The point is that they were remarkably right in their first report (1972).

    If you don't have much time, at least read the book introduction and/or the abstract of this short study: A Comparison of `The Limits to Growth` with Thirty Years of Reality [csiro.au].

    Contrary to popular belief, The Limits to Growth scenarios by the team of analysts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology did not predict world collapse by the end of the 20th century.

    The whole book is very interesting, it has many facts about humanity Earth "burn rate".

    What you should keep in mind: even with VERY optimistic discoveries, a good deal of technical breakthroughs, wise politics... in the very next decades we will face a growth halt and a decrease of average well being, production, etc. We could have maintained the well being and the population if we had done the right thing in 1990, but it is too late now to avoid this decrease.

    We're in overdrive since the 90's, has many over studies show, often stated as "1,5 Earth needed". And no matter how optimistic you are, how strong your faith is in technical advances, this won't make ocean fish replenish as we fish more and more with advanced techniques, this won't make available oil fields expand as we discover less than we pump out (even with more advanced techs), this won't make damaged farmlands heal as we over-exploit more and more lands, etc.

    The analysis shows that 30 years of historical data compare favorably with key features of a business-as-usual scenario called the "standard run" scenario, which results in collapse of the global system midway through the 21st century.

    So where the point here ? This discussion is about Earth population but without any reference to this Earth simulation where all scenarios show that we're heading to a population decrease in the next decades.
    I think the point is worth enough to be mentioned, to the least.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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