In her otherwise comprehensive review of the “Planning for the Planet” project, Barb Brouwer included a hugely serious error with respect to the size of the present world human population. (Observer, Oct.29).
Her review of the laudable and timely planning-project of David Ramsay and Barry Wilson states: “But with the world population heading to the two billion mark, there is a need (to use the planet’s resources wisely).”
In actual fact, according to the United Nations, the human population reached two billion in 1930 – and seven billion in 2012.
I fervently hope that this gross underestimate of our present population size is only a typo and doesn’t reflect the perspective of the ‘Planning for the Planet” project.
Consider the following well-documented characteristics of the growth of human numbers. At the dawn of agriculture, about 8,000 BC, the population of the world was approximately five million. Over the 8,000-year period up to 1 AD it grew to 200 million. A tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history until around 1800 for world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in less than 30 years (1959), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), and the fifth billion in only 13 years (1987).
During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to six billion, and in 1970, there were roughly half as many people in the world as there are now.
These are chilling numbers, and give much truth to the conclusion of many researchers that few of the environmental problems currently besetting us can be solved unless human population numbers come into an ecological balance with the Earth and its natural processes.