About two thousand years ago, the entire Earth's population had amounted to less than 250 million people and it doubled around 1650. In 1900, the number of human inhabitants of the Earth had risen to 1,6 thousand million and further increase was practically unimaginable but nevertheless it happened: World population chart
1950. – 2 500 000 000
1960. – 3 000 000 000
1987. – 5 000 000 000
1999. – 6 000 000 000 people.
At this moment, the Earth's population has a growth rate of 90 million people per year (10,000 per hour; almost 3 humans are born every second). Although it seems that the growth is gradually slowing down, even those most optimistic predict a population of between 9,4 and 10,8 thousand million in 2050.
Why is that so important? If people did not engage in food production (cattle-breeding, agriculture, fishery, etc.) but only collected nature's products like our ancestors hunters and gatherers, the entire planet would hardly bear several tens of million people without any consequences for the environment.
Every species on earth, including humans, follows simple instincts of which the continuation of species is the basic one. Naturally, the number of individuals favors it because then the principle of natural selection comes into force, where only the fittest and best adjusted survive. But for natural selection to work there must be some limiting factors. These are mostly the food and territory on which the species live. With the help of technology the man has climbed to the top of the food chain using tools, weapons, building shelters. He has also used this technology to expand his habitat changing the environment to suit his needs, draining swamps, clearing forests, building dikes and roads , etc. At the same time, the era of cooperation and equality, along with advanced medicine stopped the evolution in developed countries.
Thanks to drugs, surgical operations, operating instruments and social security, individuals which would not live long enough to produce offsprings have them now, nevertheless. Consequently, they pass on their bad genes. It seems only genetic engineering could save us, i.e. artificial gene manipulation, in order to continue evolution. Without it the population shall keep growing and the quality shall keep decreasing until a critical mass is reached. After that, humans shall neither have time to act nor be capable of continuing the civilization.
In the last 200 years we have caused more damage and destruction on this planet than in the previous 7 thousand years. Countless species of animals and insects becoming extinct, thousands of species last year alone, and millions of hectors of rain-forests. If we continue at the present rate of destruction / consumption, the years 2100 and beyond look very bleak indeed. Even if we take the very optimistic view that the world population will stabilize at 12 billion within the next 100 years.
The USA with under 300 million inhabitants out of a total of 6 billion, (about 5% presently), consumes 75% of the total annual world produce and energy and produces 20% of the world pollutants. This is 1/20 of the world population consuming 3/4 of the world output and producing 1/5 of the pollution. Developing countries in Asia such as China and Indonesia feel they have an equal right as humans, to live in the same manner as persons in the USA and are working very hard to achieve this goal. Within 20 years, India, Latin America, Eastern European, and African countries will no doubt follow them.
It will not be possible for our planet to sustain such a demand on its natural resources, without a major change in focus by the scientific community with sufficient financial resources and motivation. To find the right technical solutions to these problems, the solutions must be free from any commercial considerations. Our very survival and that of millions of fellow inhabitants on this planet are at stake.
Year Population in billions
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