Episode 1: Overpopulation: The Making of a Myth

Over Populatin a Myth or are there Limits to Growth

As an economic demographer by education, I can assure you that you would fail any graduate course at any major university, using the reasoning that you do on this web page. At the time when I was doing my graduate work in population analysis (economic demography), "The Limits to Growth" study out of MIT was one of the hot topics of the day. You can watch the updates of this work, by searching Limits to Growth in Youtube, of note are the presentations by Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers and Lester Brown. This work was based on a highly sophisticated computer model, developed by the first two people just noted and Dennis' wife Deanna Meadows.

Unlike your simplistic assumptions, they developed and continue to refine a highly sophisticated computer model, which estimates the "carrying capacity" of the planet, given limited natural resources (fresh water, farmable land, rare minerals, etc., etc.), finite fossil fuels, ocean acidification, and the impacts of global warming, and pollution. None of these do you consider. We lovingly call your types "the flat earth folks." You still don't realize that the earth is round, and that it therefore has limitations on population. You might argue that the planet can sustain 500 trillion people, using your simple assumptions, but at least you would show that you understand what limits are! Most of us would assume that you have no idea how to compute these limits, but at least we would not place you in the "flat earth" group. But alas, you are in the flat earth group.

Take for instance the climate change issue, which I am sure you think is wrong. Watch on youtube, "Artic Death Spiral and The Methane Time Bomb." They argue that the world is likely to warm by 5C by 2050, due to over population of people using too many fossil fuels. This will then release the Artic methane, which is likely to warm the planed another 5c. Life on the planet will not exist at 10c above current levels, is the argument.

But not to worry. The business world, and those of you strong supporters of unlimited growth are most likely to win out. The global population is likely to reach 11 billion people sometime in the second half of this century. Good news is that the planet will test your thesis that "over population is a myth." Bad news is that if the millions of us that are arguing that this level is well over the 4-5 billion carrying capacity of the planet are correct. The world will suffer a massive collapse, due to extreme changes in climate, unstoppable climate change. Massive growing areas, like CA is facing now, may become dry waste lands. The 1 billion people on the planet now that do not have access to fresh drinking water, may rise to 7 billion of the 11 billion. And the mayhem forecasted all too soon by other demographers, may ultimately be reality.
But not to worry. If those of you from "the flat world" camp are wrong, you can simply take it as partially your responsibility for the potentially billions of people who die, due to your simplistic and very misleading arguments.

If those of us from the "scientific" community, are correct, and the population leveled off at 4-5 billion, and the world transitioned now to wind and solar, what would be the impact if we were wrong on our assumptions and forecasts. We would have a cleaner, less populated planet, where the oceans were filled with healthy coral and sea life. The forests would not be devastated, and the rivers and lakes not polluted nearly as much.
So it would appear that the risks of all of you in "the flat earth" group have a much higher risk of causing the death of billions and billions of people if your simplistic assumptions are wrong. Those of us in "The Limits to Growth" camp do not face such dire consequences if our assumptions are incorrect. Quite the opposite, an under populated world may not make as many billions for the billionaires, but it could provide for a much better living for billions of people globally. And the argument that 11 billion people will increase the standard of living of more people than a planet of 4 billion people, with the majority of the energy provided by renewable energies, primarily wind and solar, is also non-science.

But hey, you are likely young enough to see the real world implications of your very misleading arguments, if others and I are correct. Too bad those of us that understand the carrying capacity of the planet, and limits to growth, don't have another planet to move to. That way we could live for thousands of generations into the future, due to our responsible life styles. However, we are stuck on "Planet Titanic" driven by a Right Wing, Radically Wrong group of nuts like your group. We are stuck going down with the ship, due to your very simplistic and inaccurate analysis. God forgive you, for you do not know what you are doing!


The statistic about the World's population fitting into land the size of Texas is grossly inaccurate. It doesn't take in account the land required for infrastructure, schools, hospitals, leisure, entertainment and agriculture. The latter is estimated to be the size of South America alone given current methods & this can increase with increased population.
Also facture in land masses that are largely or completely inhabitable - polar areas & deserts - plus possible rising sea levels that will reduce land mass and that statistic just bears no relation to fact.

As a last note I don't get the need to defend rising population. It ultimately means more pollution and damage to nature; the only saving grace being the need to support economic systems. Better to use resources to help those who are living; rather than increase numbers which will mean greater numbers who suffer - that in itself is reason alone to have constraint.

I kind of get the idea to defend the right of freedom to reproduce but ultimately we have enough people in the world and beyond the economic factor that is no sane reason to encourage it.

You're partially right

You are correct that giving everyone a town home in Texas would ignore a lot of infrastructure. But we humans are rather adept at living in high densities. Taking a current population of 7.146 billion people and putting them in the 268,820 square miles of Texas would yield a population density of 26,583 people per square mile. That's very dense, but Macau and Monaco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_terr... (not exactly terrible places to live) manage even higher densities.

But of course the real thing that takes up a lot of land is agriculture and resource extraction. Clearly in such a scenario all of that couldn't fit into Texas or even come close to that. But at the same time, it seems doubtful that we'd need all the land we currently use if all agriculture and resource extraction was done with developed-country levels of efficiency. So in that regard the basic point that we have space to grow still stands.

As to your final point, that's a bit of a philosophical debate right there. What's the value of decreased pollution compared to the value of having more people to experience the world? Most lives seem worth living, at the very least only a small portion of the human population ever thinks that ending their life would be good for them so that's something to consider. I'm not certain of the exact right balance there so that does counsel some caution about actually encouraging population growth (as opposed to simply allowing it).

In addition, I wouldn't so blithely discount the economic factor. The only reason we're talking like we are now (or probably even existing to talk in the first place) is because of economic growth. Even relatively small changes in growth patterns can have huge impacts over time. If more population improves the economy that's really important.

There's also the question of the value of status quo in nature versus a largely human-driven change. From my perspective, humans are a part of nature and as such simply a natural part of the evolutionary process. That we are disruptive to the current ecosystem is true, but many things have been disruptive to previous ecosystems and without those disruptions we wouldn't exist (which I selfishly view as a good thing, but if I was more disinterested, I would view as neutral thing). We're a change yes, but in the grand scheme of things, life is all about change so I'm not convinced that preserving a current natural order is necessarily good (though again from a selfish perspective I would not like a natural order that threatens humanity so while I'm fine with change in nature, I'm less keen on change that actually threatens humanity). Even from the perspective of humans missing the old order I don't think that effect is too significant. Outside of a few environmentalists, most people don't really seem to mind that the cities and towns they live in meant the destruction of an old forest. Or if they do, it's more of an occasional "well that's unfortunate" followed by going about taking advantage of all their human created environment has to offer. There are a lot of still wild areas of the world and most people seem to prefer to experience them from the safety of their homes with maybe the occasional vacation to the more tame parts.

So ultimately, I think it's not clear we should prefer current or lower populations, and there are good reasons to prefer higher.


"The entire world could fit in an area the size of Texas, with a 33 by 33 feet plot per family." - overpopulationisamyth.com

Including people's ACTUAL footprint, we'd need 5 Earths worth of area to give everyone an American lifestyle. Farms, ranches, factories, lifestyle infrastructure, business infrastructure and more. Not to forget the rest of the footprint, ecological damage, messing up the ecobalance, resulting in key species going extinct or expensive, like grain, rice, potatoes, corn, cattle, chickens, etc. Not to forget meteorological damage, as messed up ocean currents get hurricanes both more frequent and hazardous, similar to wildfires. Africa is slowly consumed by the Sahara. Europe is drowned, the US blown away, Australia burned to the ground and Russia/Canada are smelting away. And this is with just the current billion or so people living "developed" lifestyles. Imagine all 7 billion multiplying all these effects by 7. There is more than math to overpopulation. Please do not pretend like it is no big deal.

Overpopulation not the issue

I understand where you're coming from, but the video was making the point OVERPOPULATION wasn't a problem. based on the data they found, this holds true. The aspect you have an issue with is instead an issue of overuse of resources by first world countries. This basically means that, if the first world populations lowered their intake (unlikely I know) to a reasonable, more sustainable level, there would be no fear of "overpopulation" issues

Animal extinction

Look at how many animal species have become extinct since the turn of the last century and tell us again that overpopulation isn't a problem mate.

The issue is not that simple

Animal extinction is a complex issue that relates to the way people manage habitats and wildlife. It is not a function of population size. To give an example, a population of 1000 men with rifles could make brown bears extinct in Alaska in short time, but a population of 1 billion vegetarians could never exterminate the cows in India!


Animals have been becoming extinct since the very beginning. The dinosaurs for example and tons of other plants and animals and insects and even some people. I do not deny that some of it has had to do with people not respecting nature and "harvesting" more than they need. Just like we buy more than we need and use.

I don't think overpopulation is to blame as much as a lack of education on how to live in harmony with others and nature.
God commanded us to take care of the earth and the animals, but also to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. In the same breath, I'd also like to remind everyone of all the natural disasters that kill an average of about 250,000 people each year and then there are people who kill each other and people who die from cancer and all kinds of diseases.
As many as 50% of all pregnancies end up in miscarriage and how many people end up dying before even being able to reproduce. That's without including abortions.

So, all in all, I think if we just leave God, our creator, decide how many should be born and when, how many and who should die, then we should be just fine. We were never supposed be in charge of life and death. We were never supposed to create life in test tubes. God gave us a desire for children, even those who cannot have children. They were supposed to help those orphaned children, but that's a whole different story.

To sum it all up, don't artificially create people that were never supposed to be here and don't kill people who were meant to be here. Leave that stuff up to God. Easy peezy :-D

I just followed the link you

I just followed the link you provided to the world population, and it is at 9B in 2040 and keeps going up and up to almost 11B in 2100. (using medium variant). Can you explain why you used the low variant in your analysis vs any of the other variants? Thank you!


Population decreasing

In the video there was no proof that the population will go down after its peak in 2040>
Please include that in a future video.

Numbers don't matter

It's not about the numbers or that we could fit into Texas; it's about feeding and watering everyone given our current infrastructure and resources. There will come a point (if we haven't already reached it) where there are far too many people to support without changes being made that are, quite frankly, pie in the sky and not going to happen. The west is not going to give up its lifestyle for any third world country and third world countries are not going to limit their own populations when there is simply no incentive to do so. In any case, nature will always find a way to level the playing field; perhaps a pandemic or a war so maybe overpopulation is not the real issue since we are already there or will never really get there (depending on your point of view).

Overpopulation... I think not. Do the math.

I wrote this blog post early 2010.

My math says...

1) The world's population, laying down, will fit inside the letter "o" in Bolivia on a world map.

2) We grow enough potatoes to feed 10 times the world's current population.

3) There's still plenty of room for everyone. See more on my post (not selling anything)


Population - the wrong villain

I recently wrote a blog entry exploring this very subject. It occurs to me that when we point at population growth as a dangerous threat that must be corrected, it may be a little like accusing the victim, instead of the rapist. We're diverting attention away from the real problem - a dysfunctional world order that is not prone to support the continued growth and development of humanity as we are capable of doing. www.frogoutsidethewell.wordpress.com

Not the only ones

I haven't looked around too much on this site yet, but is there anything about the other things living on earth? From what I've seen so far, you're mostly focusing on human beings and not on any animals or whatever. Sure, we can all cram everyone into Texas and use the rest of the space for food and whatnot, but I'm fairly sure land to make enough food for one person is more than 33x33 ft. I haven't done all the math for it, so if you got the amount of land needed to feed and to provide water for every single person on earth, would it actually fit on the amount of land available, and still leave enough room for places that we want to protect, like rainforests and homes for all those other things that aren't human? And what about food and water for animals?
I guess that's all that I have a problem with right now, though.

enough food for all

check out food forest. and how cuba took cae of food security.

Malthus and Ehrlich were pragmatists. Not clairvoyant.

Malthus, as seemingly cold and homicidal as he was, actually was very much on to something. He was correct in estimating that food production increased linearly while human population increased exponentially and that this would one day be very problematic for our species. However, with his lack of a crystal ball or psychic abilities, there was one event that took place that he could never have foreseen. An event that would save us from Malthus' gloomy predictions that would very likely have otherwise come true. This event was the industrial revolution. Because of industry, we were all of a sudden able to produce more food and ship it around the world, thus averting the famine crisis that Malthus predicted. But how could he have possibly known that such an event would or even could happen? The same with Ehrlich and the technological revolution, which allowed us to bioengineer food that grows bigger and faster. Maybe not the healthiest for you, but it helped prevent some starvation, nonetheless. And how could Ehrlich have predicted that event?

It seems that you are setting up these two forward thinking men as complete misinformed psychopaths to ruin all validity of their scientific predictions thus solidifying your argument. The truth is that you didn't include all the facts. Maybe you didn't do this on purpose. But if that's the case then that means that you didn't put enough thought into your argument in the first place.

Also, per your "everyone can live in Texas" argument: space isn't the issue. It never has been. Please refrain from being propagandic.


Texas is simply an illustration of the issue. It's an ILLUSTRATION of the % issue

Take HALF of the earth, and just reserve it for empty space on the planet. No one there.

Everyone still has RIDICULOUS amounts of room, with RIDICULOUS amounts of water, and space and food.

The issue ...

Is national borders, municipalities, and geo-politics.

GMO food

well ....compost grown food is bigger any day!!! NOT genetically engineered food! it is a proven lie that GE food is more in quantity. it ia a proven fact that compost grown food gives better quality and quantity food. nutrient rich food.

Please explain your use of the UN data

You say

"While they provide Low, Medium, and High Variants, the Low Variant is the one that keeps coming true, so the Low variant numbers are the ones used in this video."

Where do you see that the low variant has been the one that's historically accurate? This is a pretty important piece of your argument.


The limiting factor on world population isn't land, so the Texas analogy is faulty.

It isn't food, at least not directly. It isn't oil, although peak oil is a major problem.

The limiting factor on world population is water. Even in Seattle (a notably rainy place) we occasionally have drought issues. The situations in many parts of the world is dire.

You cannot grow crops without water, no matter how technologically advanced you may be. You cannot raise food animals without water. You cannot control disease without water. And we need it to drink, too.

Water is key. And no, there isn't enough water in Texas to support the entire world population. They're having water wars even with the sparse population they've got.


Oil pipelines are thousands of miles long so no problem sourcing water from the Colorado river. Enough water sweeps through there in one hour to supply the entire planet for one day.


Oil pipelines are thousands of miles long so no problem sourcing water from the Colorado river. Enough water sweeps through there in one hour to supply the entire planet for one day.


God created enough water to sustain the planet. Water is being polluted but He has his own distillation process, called evaporation, condensation, cloud formation, and precipitation. Most of the problems have to do with distribution. Anyhow, everything has changed due to Fukishima, and now we are in the last days. See the book of Revelation


As is with land, water is being enormously abused. If it is not being bottled, sold, or horded, it is being atrociously poisoned. Lack of stewardship is the real issue here! Suzanne


human capital and enterprise can solve any and all problems including water - desalinization, berg transport, water purification projects, etc.

Population is the result of fossil fuel

Our bloated world population is made possible by fossil fuels that we are using as if they were limitless. If not for fossil fuel we would not be able to supply food or maintain such large populations with their complex economies and societies. If you don't believe this, look into how much synthetic fertilizer and pesticides are dumped on food crops to produce the high yields (and ever increasing yields) people refer to on this site. These fertilizers and pesticides are derived from fossil fuels, mostly natural gas, and other nutrients whose manufacture would not be possible on such a large scale otherwise. The world supply of petroleum, on top of which natural gas reserves sit, is peaking as we speak or probably has already peaked according to most experts, even the petroleum industry. Unless we find another way to create these synthetic fertilizers, for which there are no other production methods that are possible on such a large scale in the absense of fossil fuel, we will not be able to maintain the food production that makes our large population possible. The increase in price of petroleum will make farming on such a large scale much more expensive and the price of food will skyrocket. Along with climate change, the erratic effects of which are likely lead to massive yield reductions like those seen this season in the US, these changes to agriculture are likely to greatly impact food supply. Switching to organic methods or draft animal power will mean a drastic reduction in food supply(unless we all become vegetarian), because these non fossil fuel methods are less productive, and will thus require a drastic reduction in food demand.

Look around you and see how everything you depend on is created using or is derived from, fossil fuel. Plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and pesticides are made directly using fossil fuel, while everything else, metal, wood, glass, is shaped by the power of fossil fuel. These are the things that make it possible for us to have such a large population. We couldn't maintain large cities without cars and highways, because people couldn't get from place to place in them and they couldn't have their food and other resources shipped to them from far across the world. Population only really began to increase dramatically with industrialization and the exploitation of fossil fuel. It made possible the green revolution that followed WWII and made possible massive increases in crop yield. This led to the increase of meat heavy diets of those in rich countries, because animal feed crops could be grown much more cheaply.

I think you all need to learn a lot more about population to have a website about it. Also, instead of just allowing the comments from people you can easily respond to or who support your ideas to be seen, maybe you could include comments that have good information that fuels a good discussion. This is just a propaganda site using pseudo-science to support its false claims. You leave out much information necessary to actually understand this complex issue.

uhm..you've never heard of

uhm..you've never heard of hemp? read a book...

hmm - fossil fuels

so - the advent of technologies like those developed by the folks at LS9 (ls9.com) - does that make population growth more or less challenging in your view?


which populations does this fossil fuel consumption support?

The current levels of consumption of fossil fuels disproportionately supports a small fraction of the global population. "The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world." (J Diamond, NY Times, 2 Jan. 2008).

The problem is not the number of people on the planet per se, it's the rate at which they consume finite resources. If all of our global neighbours consumed like the 'developed' world, then you'd be right, but the truth is we shouldn't be talking about the bloated population before we talk about our bloated consumption, (notwithstanding the fact that the population is an important issue)

If we halved the global population, (and guess which 'half' the developed world would vote to 'disappear'), do you seriously think our consumption would drop proportionately?... or would we just decide that with less pressure on resources, we could still drive 5 litre V8 pick ups and individually eat enough burgers in a week to feed a village in Africa for a month? I wonder...

Who wants to be poor?

I wholeheartedly agree we could lead less materially based lives. But the 3rd world is rapidly urbanizing and repeating the path to development - and concomitant consumption - of the 1st world. And just as humans are evolutionarily predisposed to overeat we are also predisposed to seek out low input ways to get things done IE convenience. We are no more likely to stop wanting "stuff" via self discipline than we are to stop overeating via self discipline.

Ideally I'd like to see scientists create an index of quality of life vs material wealth and technology. Does anyone really believe we are happier in the 1st world than we were in the 60s? I'm not talking recreate the 60s here but pick and choose which of the inventions over history that use resources are really bringing us the most happiness? What we need is a global mean for population and consumption were we have sanitation, medicine, transport, education, information transfer, entertainment at a base level everywhere. No wars over resources, no have-nots, no civilisational jealousy and resentment, just people working as little as possible and finding meaningful things to do with their leisure time that aren't dependent on burning truckloads of coal.

short sighted

Yes fossil fuel has been the second largest factor in food production right behind human creativity So unless u believe all of mankind is as negative as u I believe we will come up with a much better way to support mankinds needs. If I might add I believe modern day agricultural is one of the most destructive things we've ever seen.

They Delivered

Actually this website responded to both of your objections/requests. 1) Posted your disagreeing statement (in its entirety apparently), and 2)they provided a wealth of data in the 92 second presentation with supporting references you could check out yourself. What more could you ask for?

Regarding the fossil fuel argument...

Could you offer some links in support of the statistics you are laying out here?

Also we are no where near running out of oil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kZotftLE0A

Who cares about oil ?

Am i the only person with a brain here ? Who needs fossil ? the only reason we used fossil energy is because it made a lot of sense in 1900, the rest is purely inertia, fossil hasn't made sense for years.

Re: Who cares about oil

Since you are the "Only person with a brain here".... Since fossil hasn't made sense for years, what alternatives do you suggest? My understanding is that Fossil Fuels currently provide the most energy for the dollar, hence make the most sense. I'm not saying I am correct, I am just saying that is my understanding.

What I would like to see more often is a "Total Cost Calculation". Folks are always saying how proud they are of their Prius or Nissan Leaf, but the never talk about the cost of battery disposal and heavy metals.

Resource Base Economy

Resourced based Economy is the most clean efficient system that society can run on by use of all Solar, Wave, Wind,Tidal, and most importantly geothermal energy. Geothermal energy ALONE can provide the entire planet with energy for thousands of years Solar Wave, Wind, and Tidal are just extra fossil fuels would be almost phased out we would have very little use for it, Research resource based economy especially Jacques Fresco's ideas for it "Future By Design".....

Explanation about the population of China and India (from questi

I'm not a part of this website but I can answer the question about the population of India and China.

China is growing because until recently they had a relatively young population so these people were able to begin having children recently (but only 1 per family due to the one child policy in China). Also their healthcare is getting better so people are living much longer. However their fertility rate is only 1.7 children born per woman. A fertility rate of 2.1 is needed to replace the current population. So they will begin to have a decline in population very soon. Currently they have more than 1.33 billion people, in 2050 they will be down to 1.29 billion, and in 2100 they are projected to only have 940 million! (my source is geography.about.com's list of the most populous countries) This decline in population will likely continue although projections don't go out that far.

India will keep growing for a while but will also begin to suffer a population decline before the end of the century. Currently their fertility rate is 2.8 children born per woman which is still above the replacement rate of 2.1 but that is down from about 6 per woman in 1950. Their fertility rate is falling fast and will soon be below replacement levels so their population will start to decline. Today India has 1.24 billion people, in 2050 they will have 1.69 billion, and in 2100 that will begin to fall to 1.55 billion. Again that trend will probably continue into the future.

As far as the target population I wouldn't think there should not be any target population. We should let individuals decide how many children to have and not seek to artificially limit the population. Although ideally the population should continue to grow and not decline because there are lots of advantages that come with a growing population.

Population density off India

Per large scale sample of over million households, India's TFR is already down to 2.4 and is not 2.8 . http://arunsmusings.blogspot.com/2013/03/mj-akbar-at-simon-fraser-univer...

Secondly while a TFR. Of 2 .1 is considered replacement level I the developed world, it is likely that India has already reached replacement level given its much higher infant mortality rate and adverse female to male sex ratio. Thus it is likely that India's population will peak in 1945 instead of waiting until 1960 to stabilize.


Why do you trust numbers about future population calculated by people who barely understand the past ?

1. All those estimations are based on the very stupid belief that the factors that limited the expansion of population in the western world are absolutes when they're temporary.

2. All those estimations completely ignore politics and strategies (Islam has vowed to take over the world by population numbers, for example)

3. People with limited vision should never speak about what will happen in a hundred years.

If you have no clue about what factors really limit human population on earth, you can't possibly figure out population evolution.

What Malthus Missed

Malthus missed the coming of the heat engine, that is, useful work done by exosomatic energy such as coal or oil. The supply of food is limited in one sense by the ability to plow, plant, and harvest. All are processes that require energy. If accomplished by human labor, one could see how that would place an upper limit on how much food could be produced. Give mechanization, fewer people can produce much more food. Add to that natural gas, methane, some chemistry and you can add synthetic fertilizers to the mix. But, we must also remember that fossil fuels are finite resources and as reserves diminish, the rates of production will also diminish. And right now, the Earth's rate of production of petroleum is peaking, as will coal and nature gas in a few decades. Over the course of several decades we'll see fossil energy play an steadily decreasing role in the world's economy. Eventually our capacity to do work, such as the aforementioned plowing, planting, and harvesting will likewise diminish. The projections for the world's population are for it to peak in a few decades and then decline. The question is whether it will decline fast enough to keep pace with a diminishing food supply. Of course, when all the fossil fuels are gone, they'll be limited by solar inputs, just as in Malthus' time. But, that's just one aspect of modern agriculture. Topsoil loss, urban expansion, fresh water, transport, etc. also figure in the equation. Fifty years from now it might well be anybody's guess as to whether or not we can feed everyone. If current trends are any indication, it doesn't look good.

A myth indeed

It seems like most of the commenters haven't watched the other videos. On the food topic specifically, the US currently produces significantly more grain from a smaller amount of land than it did 40 years ago. As time goes on and agricultural technology continues to improve, we will continue to get more bang for our buck.

Consider how much food could be produced if, say, Africa was producing food with the efficiency/agricultural technology of America.

They still call oil a

They still call oil a "fossil" fuel too. Oil is likely abiotic, and peak oil is a myth.

Forever though?

Can we really expect for it to increase the same as it has in the past though? Most of the agricultural breakthroughs have already happened. So expect us to always have a breakthrough allowing us to keep pace is absurd.

Peak in agricultural output?

Today's space research indicates that roughly 3.5 sq meters is needed to feed one human being if we have access to energy. Fitting the growing space needed for a small family inside an ordinary apartment in greenhouse book shelf wouldn't be a problem. We are still very far from any agricultural production limits...

Do you see the future?

Do you see the future?

I think you have overlooked some important facts

1) You are failing to account for is a biological property known as carrying capacity, the ability of this planet to support (provide food, clothing, shelter etc) is much more constrained than the surface area available to put people.

2) The UN does not estimate a population peak in 2040. The estimate for 2100 is that there will be more than 10 billion people and that we will be adding more than 5.5 million people per year at that point.

3) If you wish to understand population growth rate, I recommend watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY.

Population still peaking based on the selected data

1) I would suggest that the land area illustration is only meant to address one particular myth, and that is the myth that there is simply not enough room on the earth for everyone. In the 1960's there were pictures of the globe with people falling off it. Many still believe that it is a matter of available land, and this myth must be put to bed before further progress can be made in a discussion. One must define what they mean by overpopulation.

2) The UN gives four different projections, and the one you have cited is what they call the probabilistic mean (medium variant). This is the population growth that is most probable. However, if we agree on using this model, the population is still peaking at about 10.2 billion, rather than 8 billion. The fact that 5.5 million people are still being added to the population in 2100 is true, but it is far smaller than the 48 million per year growth in 1950. So even this model demonstrates a reduction in growth rate and an eventual peak. You can see it visually by looking at the graph they present.


3) I watched the video and it was interesting. However, if his point is that the population is growing at a steady rate (exponentially), then he is in disagreement with the UN's data. None of the UN’s projections are exponential. As I mentioned, the most probable UN model has a peak at 10.2 billion.

Carrying capacity

I think that the point was just loosely illustrative. However I agree that it is more relevant (though I suspect also more subjective and less empirical or verifiable as it is subject to many variables) to speak in terms of 'carrying capacities'.

However I recently heard the following (as we're discussing America): 6% of American Landmass is developed, 3% is classified as urban, 77% of Americans live in the areas classified as urban, the rest is still largely untouched by humans. The same could be said of most of the globe.

Despite the fact that obviously there are areas that are not suitable for farming under any conditions I personally do not believe that we are anywhere near exhausting the carrying capacity of the earth and I would like to see an objective and detailed analysis proving that we are, if that is the contention. Most governments seem to be totally unconcerned about our current ability to produce for our wants and its my experience in England that farming is not encouraged. Based on parts of the video 'food, there's lots of it' I suppose the same is true in the States.

At any rate we cannot simply say that when fossil fuels dry up (a condition that is continually being postponed it seems) that all other current conditions will prevail - human ways of living may neccessarily re-arrange themselves and local and more widespread production may well provide the answer. Many people today are doing not very much (and I'm not just talking about the unemployed - I'm talking about many who earn good salaries and consume a lot).

God Bless all,

Harry Tyldesley

In answer to your points

1) I suggest you watch the POP101 video "Food: There's Lots of It"

2) Those estimates follow the high-variant. Considering the low variant has consistently come out more accurate, 2040 is the estimated population peak.

3) Here I suggest you watch the POP101 video "7 Billion People: Everybody Relax!"

Yes, but...

Yes, but the low variant projections kept coming true, perhaps thanks to those infamous "one-child" or "birth-control" policies? So, once you abandon them or even worse encourage more births, the tendency of the population rate will not remain the same.
And by the way, 66'x66' for a family is really not very comfortable, and Texas is NOT a tiny portion of the INHABITABLE Earth. Well, if you say Sahara or Taklamakan Deserts or Scandinavian highlands or Canadian north are inhabitable, then there is not much to say...