This Planet Ain’t Big Enough for the 6,500,000,000 of Us

December 4, 2007 • Daily Email Recap

Behind the climate crisis lies a global issue that no one wants to tackle: do we need radical plans to reduce the world’s population?

What do the following have in common: the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, Earth’s average temperature and the size of the human population? Answer: each was, for a long period of Earth’s history, held in a state of equilibrium. Whether it’s the burning of fossil fuels versus the rate at which plants absorb carbon, or the heat absorbed from sunshine versus the heat reflected back into space, or global birth rates versus death rates – each is governed by the difference between an inflow and an outflow, and even small imbalances can have large effects. At present, all of these three are out of balance as a result of human actions. And each of these imbalances is creating a major problem.

Second question: how do these three differ? Answer: human carbon emissions and climate change are big issues at the top of the news agenda. And rightly so, since they pose a substantial threat. But population growth is almost entirely ignored. Which is odd, since it is at the root of the environmental crisis, and it represents a danger to health and socioeconomic development.

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Current World Population


Net Growth During Your Visit