Relationships Science

How Many People Have Lived On Earth

For all the time we’ve been here- about 100 billion+ people lived on Earth.  This number is derived by going back about 200,000 years to earlier humans- or what we tend to recognize as more modern humans.  The group includes Neanderthals and Cro Magnon people, early Homo sapiens.

That figure actually comes  from a comment by Neil DeGraf Tyson about how many ghosts there would be haunting us if they existed. His quote is here :

HAVE LIVED ON EARTH“If each dead person became a ghost, there’d be more than 100 billion of them haunting us all. Creepy, but cool.”

The people that have lived on earth  would be 10,000 generations of about 20 years each. 

His comment is based upon a scientific guess contained here.

Civilization as we think of it is perhaps 500 generations old. That would be from before the time of ancient Sumer,  as former hunter gatherers began to evolve into planters. 

That process originally likely happened more by accident perhaps after gathered, carelessly dropped seeds sprouted and grew. It must have been an amazing “Ah ha” moment!

Read about it here.

Today Earths 2016 population  is estimated to be about 7.5 billion.  I have mentioned before that I believe our greatest threat to civilization is over population. 

people who have lived on earthWith increasing numbers of us comes even more of us. We create more of us too freely. Remembering that by definition, average is in the middle with half above and half below. 

Currently many in the half above average group, realizing that more children means having their resources spread over more children leads to a reduction in their standard of living, are having fewer children. Read about that here.

Populations are increasing much more in the areas that can least afford it, the people dependent on foreign aid to survive. As stated in a previous article finite resources spread over more and more people lowers their standard of living. 

Consumption rates are much higher in more affluent countries as one might expect. The dire effects of excess consumption beyond sustainability is starvation for those that cannot afford food. That leads to civil unrest, even wars. Our turning massive amounts of  corn into methanal contributes and does little to help otherwise.

But the Earth’s upper limit population number- a limit to the viable availability of food and water resources to support us all is guessed to be between 9- 11 billion people worldwide.

Read about it here.

We will likely reach that population limit before the end of this century.

We have, perhaps 50 years to come up with an acceptable solution. Readily available birth control would go a long way toward solving or  at least delaying the crisis created by all the people that have lived on earth. 

I am a great believer in technology and its ability to solve problems. 

There may be a time in our future when we can crank in minerals and materials and end up with an artificial food supply, hopefully not Solent Green, a science fiction movie about the processing of dead folks into food for the living.

This should not, in my opinion, be a problem left to be solved by some future generation. We need to aggressively work the problem starting now.

What are your thoughts on all of us and our future?

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