It’s A Small World After All: 7 Billion People in 2011

World population

When I was born in 1953, the approximate world population was 2.681 billion. Now we’ve gone past 6.9 billion people according to the United Nations Population Reference Bureau, and some time next year it will be 7 billion. Overpopulation is still one of the biggest planetary problems, though it’s not talked about that much because it is a slow-motion catastrophe like global warming.

Some quick facts:

  • Nearly all of the world’s population growth (80 million people a year) comes from developing countries, exacerbating poverty and threatening the environment.
  • The world’s developed countries (totaling 1.2 billion) saw their populations continue to age, and the number of people of working age dwindled.
  • The worldwide recession appears to have caused declines in birth rates in some developed countries, such as Spain and the United States; and slowed down increases where birth rates had begun to rise, such as in Norway and Russia.
  • The U.S. would have zero population growth already except for immigration.
  • Africa’s population is projected to double to 2 billion by 2050, although this growth could be greater if birth rates do not decrease faster than currently. Africa’s total fertility rate is 4.7 children per woman.

The good news is that the rate of growth is slowing down. U.N. projections predict that the world population may level off, and eventually start to decline again in the best-case scenarios. But this won’t happen until we reach 9 billion or more.

Population graph

Time Magazine‘s Bryan Walsh asks:

Can the planet Earth really support 7 billion people, especially with the population expected to top 9 billion by mid-century? With some 1.5 billion people already living on less than $1.25 a day, nearly 1 billion people hungry and the natural world already heavily damaged, are we on the path to destruction?

Amazingly, the people of the world have done a much better job of surviving than many previous predictions have given us credit for. It might actually be possible to make it past the peak of 9 billion without exhausting all the resources on the planet. Let’s hope, because that’s where we’re headed by 2050.

  1. #1 by anon on December 30, 2010 - 5:08 pm

    Warning: The Club of Rome.

  2. #3 by Richard Warnick on December 30, 2010 - 10:15 pm

    The Club of Rome was wrong because the Earth’s resources are not as limited as everyone thought in the 1970s, and people have been successful at devising more efficient ways to utilize them — particularly agricultural land and water.

    I expect more efficiencies to be implemented in response to rising costs of energy and raw materials. Still, 9 billion humans on this planet is going to be a stretch.

  3. #4 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 9:25 am

    They don’t care. The goal and the plan remains.

  4. #5 by james farmer on December 31, 2010 - 9:39 am

    Richard: Correct you are, but the cost of getting to those relatively unlimited resources will likely be astronomical; with luck, however, and lots of money, maybe we will solve the fussion riddle in 2011. 😉

  5. #6 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 9:44 am

    Whether we can get the resources or not, the clutter of 7 or 9 billion people and their impacts, which are proven to be quite unmanageable to date, predicates their goal of depopulation as the best means for humans to live within their means. 500 million to one billion is the goal.

    None of us are even out of our coal dependence, and as oil rises, we everyone will be using more of it.

  6. #7 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 9:46 am

    You do know that the Club of Rome is heavily involved in promoting the AGW fraud right?

  7. #8 by james farmer on December 31, 2010 - 9:47 am


    Congratulations, man!! You said something very sensible during the waning minutes of 2010!!

  8. #9 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 9:53 am

    This is funny, the very people promoting the AGW fraud, are the same people promoting the concept of peak oil. oil is the base commodity around which world economy grows and sustains. If there were not scarcity (contrived or real) commodities would be cheap, as it stands they are about all that is worth anything in the destroyed economy. The limits to growth are well established and we are currently living them as all we need to live is rising in cost.

  9. #10 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 9:55 am

    Did you read the post on heat reflection? Last one on the thread, it happens James.

  10. #11 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 10:08 am

    The AGW fraud and the subsequent control of carbon based fuel, which is the lifeblood of human growth is the priority for those whose goal it is to depopulate the Earth. Limit the fuel and the limits of a nation’s population and lifestyles come into focus.

    What is a priority for the Club of Rome is the elimination of “useless eaters” those people believed to be the biggest energy and resource users for the least amount of social control. If that doesn’t describe American’s I don’t know what does. The direction this country is headed in self destruction is fitting into their plans nicely. Americans are already coming to accept that subsequent generations will not live as well as their forebears.

    This is the oligarchy’s plan, the common man is little more than a pest to the elites, and all they really want is a manageable number to work the infrastructure of the economy to support them. (Case in point, off-shoring to cheap labor markets) Our rulers are fundamentally parasite based in philosophy, which can describe a multitude of realities we now live, from wars of choice that make some people a ton of money, to banking bailouts which indebt the people and make their future possibilities more controllable by those who have instituted the frauds upon them. No side or party can or will protect the people from this parasitism, the people will have to protect themselves from it.

  11. #12 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 10:18 am

    More case in point, whatever imagined efficiencies cannot overcome the paradigm of parasitism fostered by the oligarchy. Happy New Year, same as last year in so many ways. Like so many clearly unnecessary sufferings of the human race, the source of them isn’t an accident.

  12. #13 by Richard Warnick on December 31, 2010 - 11:09 am


    Where were you when R.O. and brewski were telling us Jack Welch deserved to be a billionaire because he contributed so much to society?

  13. #14 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 11:13 am

    He is a billionaire speculating away, so the point I made is that no amount of efficiencies will amount to a hill of beans (literally) for the bulk of humanity. The drive to depopulate is already here.

  14. #15 by brewski on December 31, 2010 - 12:03 pm

    Show me where I said Welch desreved to be a billionaire or that he contributed so much to society. Otherwise admit you lied and apologize.

  15. #16 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 12:19 pm

    Forget it brewski, these guys are on the run.

  16. #17 by brewski on December 31, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    The funny thing about the Regressives not only are they dumb and think they are smarter, and tell you all the time that they are smarter, but also they tell you that they are morally superior and yet they go out of their way to be immoral. Take RW, he just made up verifiable objective shit. He made up things that I never said. But as he has said recently, he doesn’t have to prove any facts, what he says is a matter of faith.

    His ethics are somewhere beneath that of birthers. RW at least knows he is lying.

  17. #18 by Brew Ski on December 31, 2010 - 12:39 pm

    I started 2010 a conservative jackass; and I am leaving the year even more of a conservative jackass – all puff and zero substance.

  18. #19 by glenn on December 31, 2010 - 1:34 pm

    It’s the best they have at this juncture, we hope for a recovery because this is a no contest by now. The political landscape is the proof of the pudding.

  19. #20 by Richard Warnick on December 31, 2010 - 1:49 pm


    Do you agree with me that Jack Welch is morally bankrupt and deserving of jail time? I think not.

  20. #21 by brewski on December 31, 2010 - 8:44 pm

    You lied. Period. It is your standard m.o. as an immoral man.
    Also, please cite for me the criminal code that Welch should be jailed for.

  21. #22 by cav on December 31, 2010 - 9:52 pm

    He’s really just a captive of his own delusion of grandiosity. He tortures himself with kinky wanting.

  22. #23 by Ken on December 31, 2010 - 10:10 pm

    Here’s to 14 billion.

  23. #24 by Ken on December 31, 2010 - 10:12 pm

    Don’t worry, there can never be more people than the Earth can sustain. Infact there will always be an equilibrium. The more population grows the more the Earth will sustain it.

  24. #25 by Richard Warnick on December 31, 2010 - 10:52 pm


    So you are not defending Welch by defending Welch. That’s very Zen. I didn’t allege that former General Electric boss Jack Welch had committed a crime. I said he should be in jail, which is another way of saying there oughta be a law!

    As a result of his messy divorce in 2002, Welch had to file financial affidavits that were then posted on The Smoking Gun. He listed a whopping monthly income of $1.4 million (dividends and interest payments both top six figures). Plus a monthly Social Security check — every little bit helps!

    Social Security Check Helps Jack Welch Get By
    GE Brings Good Things To Jack Welch

    This is the guy who killed so many jobs he was was dubbed “Neutron Jack.” Like a neutron bomb, all he left was empty buildings.

  25. #26 by brewski on January 1, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    Brewski, I did not defend Welch. You apparently can’t read or comprehend. In agreeing with you I took your logic to its next logical conclusion that the income earned by TIAA CREF was immoral and ill gotten gains that the college professors should give back just like they were blood diamonds. So I never defended Welch and it is interesting that in your paranoid delusional fantasy that you imagined that I did.

    Also, you said Welch should be in jail. So if you don’t think he committed a crime then I guess you have some Castro-like affinity for throwing people in jail because they are your own worst enemy. Like I have said before, you would have made the perfect National Socialist. Admit it, you admire it.

  26. #27 by brewski on January 1, 2011 - 2:16 pm

    my comment is in moderation again.

  27. #28 by Richard Warnick on January 1, 2011 - 2:34 pm


  28. #29 by Richard Warnick on January 1, 2011 - 2:39 pm


    I believe in the rule of law, and in the principle of innocent until proved guilty. Based on what we know about Welch, what he did appears legal. But it’s clearly immoral, and we ought to consider whether it should be legal for CEOs, hedge fund managers, et al. to do so much damage to the lives of innocent people.

    This is not an academic exercise. The American middle class just got screwed out of 15 million jobs and $12 trillion in net worth by unregulated financiers. Then our democratically-elected government bailed out the same billionaires who screwed us.

  29. #30 by Larry Bergan on January 1, 2011 - 3:10 pm

    This is the guy who killed so many jobs he was was dubbed “Neutron Jack.” Like a neutron bomb, all he left was empty buildings.

    Proof that the best humor arises from tragedy.

    Hey, the guy is trying to sustain the life he’d become accustomed to, and if Social Security helps with that…

    Besides, nobody would say that productivity didn’t go up at GE, after Walsh and since weapons of war are the only thing we produce or sell anymore, it’s nothing but gravy for somebody; the survivors, I guess.

    I get the feeling, the top 5%, don’t want ME to survive and that gets to be personal.

  30. #31 by Larry Bergan on January 1, 2011 - 3:16 pm

    Ken says:

    Here’s to 14 billion.

    Yep, that’s Ken alright! 14 billion, hard working, successful people, with yachts, mansions and football teams.

  31. #32 by brewski on January 1, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    The American middle class just got screwed out of 15 million jobs and $12 trillion in net worth by unregulated financiers. Then our democratically-elected government bailed out the same billionaires who screwed us.

    They got screwed in one of the most regulated parts of the economy. The other most regulated part is healthcare. So emprically one can clonclude that most regulated and most screwed up are closely associated.

    So you can blame Rubin, Dodd, Frank and all of their corrupt cronies who fucked the 15 million people.

    You wanr to give more power to those who screwed things up the most. You conclude that the solution to cronyism and kleptocracy is to give more power to the corrupt and the kleptomaniacs.

    Your dianosis is wrong and your prescription is wrong. The only thing you got right is the patient is sick. Other than that pretty much everything you say has been proven wrong by Krugman, et al. You are out on your own.

  32. #33 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 9:18 pm

    “what is socialism but organised compassion?”

    Billy Bragg

    Dog, every time I go to the ‘Submit Comment’ button, I have to wince ’cause I know damn well I’m shooting directly to the moderation que. Would somebody please fix that – substitute ‘fascism’ for ‘socialism’ fer Christ’s sake. What’s the matter with this thing anyway?

  33. #34 by cav on January 1, 2011 - 9:21 pm

    Great Googley-Moogley, If I ain’t prescient!

    Clean-up in the moderation chamber – Spill in moderation.

  34. #35 by cav on January 2, 2011 - 7:54 am

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    H. L. Mencken

  35. #36 by Richard Warnick on January 2, 2011 - 10:20 am


    What would you call an entity that acts like a bank but is exempt from all banking regulations? Or an entity that sells insurance (credit-default swaps) but is exempt from insurance regulations? How about a securities market that has no transparency because it’s exempt from securities regulations?

    I can think of some adjectives to describe these types of financial businesses, but “over-regulated” would not apply!

  36. #37 by brewski on January 2, 2011 - 11:52 am

    These are the people RW wants to give more power to:

    House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003:

    Barney Frank (D., Mass.):
    “I worry, frankly, that there’s a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. . .

    Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), speaking to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez:

    “Secretary Martinez, if it ain’t broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] ever missed their housing goals?”

    House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

    Rep. Frank: “I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .”

  37. #38 by Richard Warnick on January 2, 2011 - 12:00 pm


    There are very few current members of Congress I would trust on the issue of re-regulating Wall Street. Where is Byron Dorgan when you need him?

    Listen to the incoming House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL):

    “My view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”

    Rarely has a Republican lawmaker laid out so starkly just whose interests he believes Washington is supposed to be protecting.

  38. #39 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 9:09 am

    When you say you want more regulation of Wall Street, it assumes lots of things:
    1. The government is capable of regulating Wall Street
    2. The government is not corrupt and will eventually end up protecting Wall Street’s rigging of the markets and not actually regulating
    3. The government you end up with is the government you want who will end up regulating Wall Street
    4. The government won’t end up “promoting” and “supporting” [e.g. subsidizing] Wall Street with easy money from the Fed, fake GSE’s like Fannie and Freddie to be the buyers of products Wall Street is selling, as well as special tax subsidies on leverage over equity, which will create asset bubbles that taxpayers will pay for.

    So, what you wish for is what got us in this mess.

  39. #40 by Uncle Rico on January 3, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Don’t worry, there can never be more people than the Earth can sustain. Infact there will always be an equilibrium. The more population grows the more the Earth will sustain it.

    Wow, how did I miss this little gem?

    Ken, are you perhcance related to Charles Dana Wilber?

  40. #41 by Richard Warnick on January 3, 2011 - 10:04 am


    When I talk about re-regulating Wall Street, all I want is for Congress to put back the protections enacted to prevent another Great Depression, for example the Glass-Steagall Act restrictions on bank holding companies.

    You might think members of Congress could learn from the collapse of the financial sector just over two years ago that these safeguards serve to protect all of us, but especially the poor taxpayers who are on the hook for Wall Street bailouts.

  41. #42 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 11:34 am

    Even with the Glass Steagall Act well in place, we still had the S&L crisis, and the first asset bubble of 1995-2000.

    So the Glass Steagall Act and its repeal had nothing to do with the asset bubbles, it had nothing to do with the government subsidizing debt over equity, it had nothing to do with banks making loans to people who couldn’t repay them, it had nothing to do with the fake GSE’s buying loans from originators who didn’t care if the borrowers ever repaid them, etcetera etcerta etcetera.

    Your point is pointless.

  42. #43 by Richard Warnick on January 3, 2011 - 12:39 pm


    No, you’re changing the subject. Asset bubbles are created by inequality in the distribution of wealth. The repeal of Glass-Steagall just made the consequences worse, as we saw in 2008.

    “Making loans to people who couldn’t repay them” means what? It means that greedy loan originators assumed the real estate bubble would go on forever, and used that assumption to peddle loans to people who normally wouldn’t qualify — including a lot of naive home buyers who believed the promises of the loan sharks. Then these loans were packaged up and securitized for sale as AAA-rated investments to institutions who knew better but were too greedy to care.

    Because of the de-regulation of the financial services industry by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act , investment brokers were allowed to create and sell these high-risk investment products to traditionally low-risk commercial banks.

  43. #44 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    Krugman disagrees with you. I don’t know how many times this needs to be proven to you. You have locked into one sociologist’s view of the world and decided that that fits into your world view so you will hang onto to it no matter what evidence is presented to you. As you said, it is a matter of your faith. You have replaced saying the rosary with repeating unsupported left wing dogma which has no basis in fact. You might as well start believing in golden plates from heaven at this point.

  44. #45 by Richard Warnick on January 3, 2011 - 4:57 pm


    I am describing the reality of America today. If you can’t see it, then you are not paying attention. Robert Reich:

    The truth is our economic problems stem from the biggest concentration of income and wealth at the top since 1928, combined with stagnant incomes for most of the rest of us.

  45. #46 by brewski on January 3, 2011 - 6:32 pm

    Yes, economic inequaity is a problem. That does not mean that there is an causal relationship between economic inequality and asset bubbles. There is a causal relationship between easy money, subsidies, moral hazard situations and asset bubbles.

    Robert Reich does not have any degree of any kind in economics.

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