Seven Billion Day

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Economics, Environment, Idle Nonsense, Industrial Collapse

In something that sounds like it ought to be a joke but isn’t, the day when the Earth’s human population is projected to cross above 7 billion (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) is April 1, 2012. What fools we all turn out to be!!

Back in the day (the 1960s and 1970s), I recall the population explosion used to be a very real worry, as were the energy crisis and the ecology movement. They were not entirely forgotten but were submerged for a time beneath the usual happy lies we tell ourselves about human progress (e.g., Reagan’s rhetorical blather about Morning in America). Forgotten worries have resurfaced as Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Water (frankly, Peak Everything), population demographics run amok, environmentalism, and permaculture, all leading to industrial collapse and probably maybe even human extinction.

With respect to population specifically, this article in The Guardian has a scary picture of present-day Taipei just to show what a swarm of locusts humans looks like:

Of course, it’s far too late now to stop us from destroying ourselves, essentially by consuming the planet and thus ruining our own habitat (along with that of most other species). This foregone conclusion was foreseen in the 18th century by Thomas Malthus, which is described in a now four-year-old interview of Iain Boal at CounterPunch called “The Specters of Malthus: Scarcity, Poverty, Apocalypse.” The news is out, has been for a long time in fact, but none save the Chinese (to my knowledge) have taken any real steps to stem population growth. (A few countries have logged negative population growth, but not purposely.) A more sober, mathematical unpacking of the issue by Prof. Al Bartlett is found here, which describes the slow, steady, implacable force of even modest growth rates. One can argue with arguments, perhaps, but how can one argue with math?

Update: According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), world population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011. The world population clock at the U.S. Census Bureau (linked to above) still projects April 2, 2012, as the crossover date. These are estimates, to be certain, and it’s probably not so important which is more accurate.

  1. rg the lg says:

    I used this as a lead in to my on-line courses in math (Algebra I; Algebra II; Financial Literacy; Geometry; Math Analysis; pre-Cal) … as a means of demonstrating how math we already know in another guise (simple or compound interest) is applicable for other subjects/solving other problems).

    I also reprinted the CounterPunch article for my Econ students …

    • Brutus says:

      I’m glad you found something useful here. However, I wouldn’t say we’re solving any problems, even a few of us who have learned our lessons. The drive to go forth, be fruitful, and multiply is still too strong, and the aftereffects are obvious though denied.

  2. kulturcritic says:

    Really overshot the carrying capacity of this planet…

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