7 trillion humans? The Scale and impact of population growth

overpopulated_earth17 trillion looks like a typo, but no, the maths shows that either by continuing the actual global population growth levels typical the 20th century, or achieving 2% per year or far less than what is currently happening in Nigeria, the maths produce this number in a relatively short time!

A key theme of this blog is that, while population growth is no longer the threat that it once was, economic policy has yet to adapt to the slowing in population growth.  While population growth has slowed since the 20th century, growth is not at 2% as some dangerous people advocate, and all the world is not like Nigeria, it is still worth understanding just how quickly things can escalate  and not take for granted the slowing population growth that is both happening, and needed, to avert crisis.

Does it feel crowded now?  Can you imagine Earth inhabited by not 7 billion (7,000,000,000) humans, as we have now, but 7 trillion (7,000,000,000). That would be one human for every 3.3 meters x 3 meters of habitable land on the planet (calculation below).  Around 10 square meters allocation per person to live, grow food all of one food and that is without allocating any wilderness for other living things or trying to allow space (corridors?) to move outside your own space.  This is a level we would reach if were able to continue peak 20th century population growth rates.

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The New Economics of Population Growth in a Finite world

historical_map_world_1800Summary: Most of us now live under ‘finite world economics’, where population growth results in a smaller share of wealth for each individual and the majority of the population, but increased revenues for Governments, nationwide businesses and multinationals who gain revenue from the entire population.  The rich win, the rest suffer.

The now finite World

When Christopher Columbus set sail for America, no one had a world map, doubt about a map the included America.  When Captain Cook ‘discovered’ Australia, as it approached the year 1800,  no civilization knew where all the land on Earth was located.  By 1900, humans knew where all the land was, but still had not explored all that land. Now (2017 at the time of writing), we basically know where all the land is and have even allocated ownership and mineral rights of all the land. Our world is now finite.

The post explores the ‘finite’ world concept, then discuss each of the two dynamics resulting in the widening of the gap between rich and poor. Continue reading

Inferno: How could we limit the population?

dantes_infernoThere is an argument that we currently have more people on Earth than ideal, but even if you accept that we have an overpopulation problem, the idea that a sudden reduction in the population would solve the problem is both absurd, dangerous and damaging.

The premise of the movie ‘Inferno’ is that a virus could randomly target and render infertile one in three humans as a means of population reduction. Inferno is a movie, and a suspense drama, not an actual plan.  But if you do accept that the earth is overpopulated, what would be a real appropriate response, and why are ideas, such that containing in the movie, so damaging? Continue reading

Lessons from SciFi: Future Expansion

By Monomorphic at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Elvis using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4353656The actor Morgan Freeman has declared he is determined to produce a movie based on the novel ‘Rendevous with Rama’ by Arthur C Clarke.  Great Sci-Fi writers like Clarke are renown for their insights in to the possible future and this novel is no exception.  After again reading this novel I realised the insights into possible future with regard to the human population is extremely thought provoking. Continue reading

Jobs in the ‘ECO’ age part1: outsourced & offshored?

business-video-conferencing-ariel-skelley-blend-images-gettyA friend was commenting on how her employer, a major ‘blue-chip’ employer, was transforming the workplace.  The shift in emphasis is  to less work needing to take place in the office, and more provision for people to work from home.  The direction it is heading is for people only to attend the office for scheduled meetings.  Why waste that commuting time just to sit and do the same work you can do from home?   But if you can work from home, with today’s technology, home could be anywhere.  It could be in another city or even another country.  Globalisation results in jobs moving to the most cost efficient location on the globe.   We know what happened when employers realised Call Centres and IT departments could be remote. Will this be repeat for the entire office.  Will even wall st eventually be run from Mumbai?   Or will the changes in the workplace actually save our jobs? Continue reading

Population: Why more than the current change is required.

source: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth/If you are not aware that the rate of population increase has slowed significantly, then you can refer to some of the pages in this section.  The red line on graph here may also help.

As you can see, although the rate of growth has dropped significantly, the global population does still continue to grow.

In reality it is very possible that the global population will actually eventually completely stop growing.  The graph is accurate up to now, but speculative in the future. But even if growth does stop altogether, there is still a significant problem from an environmental perspective in terms of the number of people and not destroying the planet.  The reduction in population growth is sufficient to complete disrupt our current society and economy, but insufficient to solve serious problems for the earth.

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Industrial/Growth Age vs Information/Eco Age

Industrial/Growth Age Characteristics

(discussed in detail later in the post)

  1. automation replaces manual labour
  2. time to travel continually decreases
  3. automation and culture spreads around the globe
  4. population growth is unprecedented
  5. economic markets expand rapidly
  6. the Christian religion is the dominant religion of the revolution

Have I missed any? Most likely yes.

Information/Eco Age Characteristics

(again, discussed in detail later)

  1. a new wave of intelligent automation replaces even manual and even some skilled labour
  2. virtual travel becomes an alternative to physical travel
  3. the globe is already linked, and propagation of new ideas is virtual
  4. population growth will very likely stall
  5. economic markets may be largely static
  6. conflict is being channelled into religion

Industrial/Growth Age Discussion.

Automation.

Automation started to be able to replace manual labour, and the ‘Ludites’ and others panicked as to what would happen to the displaced labour.  However, the automation helped create new wealth, and this new wealth created people able to spend on new products that never even existed previously, and that created new employment opportunities.

But it wasn’t just the automation that fuelled the economic growth.

Transport.

Shipping became faster and rail emerged to speed travel over land.  Improved transport enabled trade at greater distances, and more profitably to existing markets. Then cars and trucks arrived adding to the low cost transport options and final air travel. During the industrial age markets for many products moved from local to global in range.

Spread of Culture and Technology.

Significant empires of the British, French Spanish and German empires covered much of the globe. The emerging USA was founded on European culture.  European based ideas dominated the globe. This European influence was magnified by the new industrial capability which also had an origin first in Europe and then from both Europe and North America (itself largely and extension of Europe).  This allowed new trade in the technology of industrialisation as well as the products of that industrialisation.

Population.

The global population grew during the industrial age from around .5 billion to almost 7 billion.  That is a factor of 14x.  During the 20th century alone population grew from 1.5 billion to 6 billion, a four fold increase.

Economic Markets.

From an economic perspective, the population actually grew even faster.  Rural semi subsistence farming in many countries at the start of the industrial age, meant that those people had little participation in the market for many goods and services. By the year 2000 these people had also largely entered the market picture, and the economic participation of women had also grown significantly.

Religion.

The industrial age was largely driven by European culture and thus European religion which was dominated by Christianity.  But in parallel with this spread of religion, was a trend of a decline on average of the importance of religion in peoples lives.

Information/Eco Age Discussion.

Unlike the industrial age, we have only predictions and observations of the launch of the age in place of a full history.  This means much of this is based on the launch of the age rather than the conclusion.

Automation.

A new wave of intelligent automation seems inevitably positioned to take place. Intelligent machines or ‘robots’ are making advances in even such skilled areas as surgery. Clearly, the stage is set for another revolution in how work is done.

Transport.

The new emerging wave is virtual transport.  From 3d printing and virtual reality to the so well established internet a new wave of change is present.  Automated vehicles are in niches such as mining already but seem certain to become mainstream and again revolutionise actual shipping.  3D printing can even avoid shipping altogether.  Video conferences can reduce the frequency of travel for meetings.

Spread of Culture and Technology.

The previous empires are gone.  New ’empires’ of influence are the USA with a commanding presence on the internet and software through Google, Apple Microsoft and the likes of Facebook,  China through manufacturing and even countries such as South Korea through Samsung.  The mix of influences now means a cultural mixing pot.

Population.

The population growth of the previous (20th) century is not predicted to be matched ever again using the boldest of the ‘high’ projections, while humans exist on this earth.  Matching 20th century growth would result in a global population of around 24billion, and the most extreme estimates are below half of that level. In fact during the information/eco age I suggest population may even start to decline globally.  Note that birth rates in developed countries are already at levels that should produce a decline.

Economic Markets.

There is still growth of markets possible from and economic perspective as their are still countries well below developed levels.  The ratio of these countries to developed countries is lower than during the industrial/growth age.  Combined with substantially lower population growth, this means that lower nationwide economic growth is the reality.  Without the same population growth, economic growth per capita can still be strong, but the current economic system is not keyed to this an indicator.

Religion.

We currently have a state of flux.  The most intensely disenfranchised are being lured to extremist religion and terrorism. What will happen is a very complex picture.