How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth – In a Horizon special, naturalist Sir David Attenborough investigates whether the world is heading for a population crisis – NOTE: This documentary is no longer available to view, have replaced it with the following video in this post:
Technology, rising material consumption, and what could be called a pandemic of “nature deficit disorders” are causing the loss of large areas of wilderness and ecosystem services, but the greatest threat can be traced to growing numbers of people.
The exponential nature of population growth shapes life on earth almost as much as gravity or respiration. But because it is so pervasive, it often goes unseen. One hour from now, earth will show a net increase of more than 9,000 humans, each one needing adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, education, and eventually jobs, not to mention realistic dreams of a better life for themselves and for their children… and on it goes. Our population currently adds 219,000 people every day. That’s a billion every 12-13 years. Will the next billion drive human civilization to a social and ecological tipping point?
“The Eighth Billion” examines the impact of population growth on the health of wildlife and wild places. It also explores the benefits of wildness and natural beauty for producing human enjoyment and inspiration. Wilderness is a form of ecological wealth that, unlike money, is not ours to spend. The quality of our lives and that of future generations depends on efforts to preserve this wealth. Population stabilization and wilderness preservation offer complementary pathways to true prosperity. As imperatives of sustainability, they offer the prospect of a world that is green, prosperous, inspirational, and fair. If we can embrace both pathways, we just might create a world that is worth inheriting!
“It’s not people having large familes…. It’s people doing what people do” (Sir David Attenborough)
2 more people every second, 200,000 more people every day, 80 million more people each year.
According to naturalist Sir David Attenborough, in a Horizon special,
human population density is at the root of every problem he has encountered while filming around the world.
He supports the Population Matters
This Horizon film is an attempt show how water, food and energy will be affected by population growth
as well as an attempt to answer how many people planet earth can actually support.
The UN keeps population records and makes projections for the future.
By mid century there will be 9 billion people – 3 billion more people in the next 40 years.
The history of humanity is one of overcoming environmental limits.
From 1800 onwards there has been a major increase in human population from 1 billion to 7 billion.
Death rates have been controlled by medical and technical advances.
A great achievement.
But living healthily and long has a consequence… Population growth.
Food production cannot increases as much as human population already is.
The physical limits of the earth will determine how many people it can support.
Only 2 1/2 percent of the total amount of water on earth is fresh water and only half of that available for human use.
Over half of that water is used to serve our needs.
More than 1.2 billion people already lack access to safe clean water.
The lion’s share of water is used for food production.
So food production will be affected by water shortages.
Global agriculture is already hitting it’s limit.
We are already using 30-40% of the earth’s tillable surface.
There is no more land to cultivate.
The only way is to raise food productivity.
Some of the largest and riches countries in the world are acquiring land from some of the poorest.
Buying or leasing land in other countries to produce food for their own countries. So the poor countries are producing food for the richest countries rather than themselves and surviving on monetary help from other countries.
Energy production has transformed the earth.
But fossil fuels are getting harder to find.
The more we damage the environment the more we hurt our own self interest.
Most of Africans use less than 1/2 their share, Chinese 2x, Europeans 5x and Americans 4xs their share.
There earth could only support 1 1/2 billion people living in an American lifestyle.
3 ways to solve the problem:
stop consuming resources,
reduce population growth.
Continue to damage our ecosystem and we continue to damage ourselves.
The good news – Our intelligence can save us…
The question is, will we use it to do so?