World population: 7 billion and counting

Exponential growth’s potential to rapidly change the numbers of a situation tends to fall out of the thoughts of most people, who don’t see such things occur in daily life.

You should stop and think about this one for a minute: World population will tip to over 7 billion people soon, maybe in the next week, but most assuredly by next spring.

A very large crowd in a stadium

Seven billion people? Really? Are the concessions adequate? The restrooms?

Joel E. Cohen wrote about the event in Sunday’s New York Times:

ONE week from today, the United Nations estimates, the world’s population will reach seven billion. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date — the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March — but there can be no doubt that humanity is approaching a milestone.

The first billion people accumulated over a leisurely interval, from the origins of humans hundreds of thousands of years ago to the early 1800s. Adding the second took another 120 or so years. Then, in the last 50 years, humanity more than doubled, surging from three billion in 1959 to four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987 and six billion in 1998. This rate of population increase has no historical precedent.

Can the earth support seven billion now, and the three billion people who are expected to be added by the end of this century? Are the enormous increases in households, cities, material consumption and waste compatible with dignity, health, environmental quality and freedom from poverty?

(Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical biologist and the head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University, is the author of “How Many People Can the Earth Support?”)

We’re in for some dramatic shifts in concentrations of people, if not shifts in how we think of the world (thinking is always slower than reality).

While the bulge in younger people, if they are educated, presents a potential “demographic dividend” for countries like Bangladesh and Brazil, the shrinking proportion of working-age people elsewhere may place a strain on governments and lead them to raise retirement ages and to encourage alternative job opportunities for older workers.

Even in the United States, the proportion of the gross domestic product spent on Social Security and Medicare is projected to rise to 14.5 percent in 2050, from 8.4 percent this year.

The Population Reference Bureau said that by 2050, Russia and Japan would be bumped from the 10 most populous countries by Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Are you ready?


Borrowed with express permission from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


29 thoughts on “World population: 7 billion and counting

    • Is the U.S. growing too fast? Or is that growth an economic boon? In either case, what should the U.S. do — either to discourage population growth if it’s a problem, or to encourage it, if it’s a benefit?

  1. in my opinion, overpopulation is not a big deal, our government can create more jobs. Stop thinking of spreading wide, think about spreading higher, new buildings, higher buildings. There are many small towns that can become bigger cities and more busy. Making and building things require many people and demand for jobs and most of these jobs dont even require experience. You could easily learn how to operate a crane or a bulldoser. Ofcourse after these buildings or structures were done there would be a company or something of the sort to take it and look for people to work. There are many companies and industries that are expanding, such as apple or the car industry, the demand for cars will be greater if population keeps growing. It always just comes down to if the Government and other people are willing to stop being greedy with the “little” money that they have. CASH FLOW CASH FLOW CASH FLOW

    • Can the government create more jobs? I’ll wager you can’t find anyone in the Republican Party who will confess to believing any government action will create jobs.

      You’re right about cash flow, though — the question is, how do we stimulate cash flow, wisely, well, and a lot?

  2. Maybe this is when war becomes a good thing, no? I mean, we lose a million people, but with our population growing and growing, we’re left to say “It’s okay, we’ve got a million more!” So the solution here is clear; war. And with more and more people coming into our world, the pacifists’ voices will soon be completely outspoken. BAWWWNNNG.

  3. Im impressed on how it did take hundreds of year just to make billions of people and now its taking us less than half the years it did. We increase more and more every day. I dont know how the world will hold up our population. I think the more people we have we will have more opportunities to have abetter life. People will have a better life. They wil have jobs and support their families. lets just see how the government deals with it in the future.

    • What about pollution from all those people? They need transportation, and heated or cooled housing — all of which takes energy.

      If the energy comes from burning carbon, pollution is a serious problem.

  4. This could mean a good thing or a bad thing depends on what the U.S does with that many people with that many people we can have more workers n new ideas on hoq to buy sell n trade in the market economy

  5. The scarcity of food would increase making it harder for people to have enough to eat everywhere. There would probably be more poor people struggling for survival.

  6. reaching a population of 7 billion is kind of a good thing, people will decrease the unemployment rate to tend to their family needs, bring back value in to money (currency) and stimulate the economy and make it stable and make it better

  7. This your boy fredy hmm one question. What will happen if they bomb the white house.? Make sure u give me a grade darell

  8. With the over population of the world, all of the necessary things humans need would probably be hard to come by considering how much we can produce to provide for everyone. Sooner or later, a lot of changes with production and the economy will start to arise. Kind of scary.

  9. If the world does become over populated, would the world itself be in more trouble? Global warming and factories still polute the air so if the popalation grows won’t the increase in extesive damage to the air be in a chaotic state?

    • So, Salvador: The question is, do you want to be a lot smarter than the Chinese kids? If that’s the only variable, you control it completely.

      What’s your choice?

  10. How is a over populated country supposed to work? What is our future president going to do, if we are going to be most likely the country with the most people. How are we supposed to make more money and improve our economy ?

    • Its not just the kids from India, China and Brazil its the kids from all over the world that we would be competing against for a job. Yeah kids from other countries might study more and take school more seriously than an average american does but what matters at the end is who really wants the job more and who has better experience and who can bring more to the company not just about who can solve an equation faster. The real question is are you ready to strive and show to the company how much you want the job more than the other human-being. Yes it will be hectic finding a job with the increasing population but if more jobs were created there would be more jobs available.

    • but what about the people that never took school seriously, you need to study in order for you to know what your going to do for a job and if you want it =bad then go to school and be prepared for wha comes in the future..

    • That depends: Can we sell stuff to all those people? Maybe it means more customers, and new markets. The Chicago School idea is that all nations with free enterprise economic systems can get wealthy. Can you figure out how to provides a good or service those people will need, that they’ll pay for?

    • Solution for what? There are lots of problems: Food, shelter, clothing, education, employment (jobs), taking care of children, education, taking care of aging parents, recreation, pollution . . . all problems waiting for new solutions.

      What is your Big Idea for “a solution?”

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