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World Urbanization Prospects, the 2011 Revision
Africa and Asia together will account for 86 per cent of all growth in the world’s urban population over the next four decades, adding that this unprecedented increase will pose new challenges in terms of jobs, housing and infrastructure. Africa’s urban population will increase from 414 million to over 1.2 billion by 2050 while that of Asia will soar from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion, according to the 2011 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects, produced by the UN Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
Mind-blowing Reminder of the Day
As of 2011:
- You, as a human, are one of 7 billion.
- The number of people living on less than $1.25 per day is 1.35 billion, or about 1 in 6.
- This year, the number of billionaires in the world rose to 1,210 (or 1 in 5,785,123), with a combined total wealth of $4.5 trillion (up from $3.4 trillion in 2009).
- A billionaire who earns 3% interest annually on just one of those billions makes $82,191 per day.
- The daily income ratio of richest to poorest: about 65,752 to 1.
- The population ratio of poorest to richest: about 1,115,702 to 1.
World population is growing really, really fast
- 12% of everyone who’s ever lived is alive today source
Human Population Growth - pt. 1
Supposedly, the human population on this planet Earth was expected to reach 7 billion yesterday. Seven billion is a number that really can’t be appreciated by the human mind. Human population growth has been accelerating for a while now. One major factor for this growth is that the global birth rate exceeds the global death rate. Advances in medicine, for example, have allowed for people to live longer and have allowed for more successful child births. Other technological advancements have also contributed to extended lifespans.
If you plotted human population over time, this recent success of living has resulted in a graph that exhibits exponential growth — a J-shaped curve. In 1804, human population was estimated at 1 billion. It took about 123 years for the population to increase by a billion to reach 2 billion in 1927, something that took millenia of human existence to achieve the first time. Now, in the span of time from 1987 to 2011—24 years—human population has increased by 2 billion more people.
The recent success of living comes at a cost, though. What does life require to continue its existence, to continue propagation? Resources. Not all resources are equal, but many of them vital to life are limited and most of them require competition in some form. The rub is that to sustain exponential growth, you must either have unlimited resources or be able to eventually replenish or substitute resources exponentially. Either of those are not very likely scenarios.
When an environment reaches its carrying capacity—its intrinsic ability to sustain a population and its demands for resources—corrective, limiting factors will come into play. It’s a capital T Truth derived from the principles of economics and biology and physics. The ultimate question we have to ask ourselves is this: how close are we to reaching the carrying capacity for human population? And are we going to do anything proactive to correct it? Because, if we’re not going to do it, Mother Nature has no qualms at all to correct the situation for us.
In all honesty, though, the issue is a bit more subtle than that. One of my professors framed the issue like this: carrying capacity, in regards to human population, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe it shouldn’t be thought about or recognized based on hard data. Rather, it should be defined or framed by the quality of life we, as humans, are willing to collectively accept. You can live beyond your means, but there’s a price to be paid somewhere or sometime down the line. You, as a resilient, intelligent life form on top of the food chain, can reside in a wasteland devoid of a lot of things. But do you really want to?
GINK: Green Inclinations, No Kids
“Well-meaning people have told me that I’m “just the sort of person who should have kids.” Au contraire. I’m just the sort of person who should not have kids.
Population isn’t just about counting heads. The impact of humanity on the environment is not determined solely by how many of us are around, but by how much stuff we use and how much room we take up. And as a financially comfortable American, I use a lot of stuff and take up a lot of room….
….When someone like me has a child — watch out, world! Gear, gadgets, gewgaws, bigger house, bigger car, oil from the Mideast, coal from Colombia, coltan from the Congo, rare earths from China, pesticide-laden cotton from Egypt, genetically modified soy from Brazil. And then when that child has children, wash, rinse, and repeat (in hot water, of course). Without even trying, we Americans slurp up resources from every corner of the globe and then spit 99 percent of them back out again as pollution…..
…..And so, for environmental as well as personal reasons, I’ve decided not to have children. I call myself a GINK: green inclinations, no kids.
So says Lisa Hymas in the Guardian this week, explaining her views on population and why she decided to become a ‘GINK’. No, I hadn’t heard of it either, but her piece is an interesting article, not too long and well worth reading it in full.
In it, Hymas muses about the prejudice that people without kids experience, the strange quizzical looks she receives when she tells people why she doesn’t have children.
It’s an awful situation really, that in an age of reproductive freedom (in the West at least), not having kids is perceived as though it were taboo. It got me thinking about the way I myself perceive couples, and especially women, who don’t have children….
Density is in our genes
The benefits of living close to other people are evident even to hunter-gatherers. Though their societies have changed over the millennia, studying characteristics of present-day hunter-gatherers can let us peer into the past. That’s what was done by three anthropologists—Marcus Hamilton, Bruce Milne, and Robert Walker—and one ecologist—Jim Brown. In the process, they seem to have discovered a fundamental law that drives human agglomeration. Though their survey of 339 present-day hunter-gatherer societies doesn’t explicitly mention cities, it does show that as populations grow, people tend to live closer together—much closer together. For every doubling of population, the home ranges of hunter-gatherer groups increased by only 70 percent. -Tim de Chant (Hunter-gatherer populations show humans are hardwired for density).