Home > environment > SCARY: Population Hits 7 Billion

SCARY: Population Hits 7 Billion

Halloween may have its roots in dealings with the dead, but this year a more frightening specter hovers as the human population hits 7 billion living individuals.

Population is often the elephant in the room when discussing local and global problems of resource extraction, water shortage, the giant Pacific garbage patch and other environmental damage. To acknowledge a limit to Earth’s carrying capacity — especially given our unsustainable lifestyles — is sacrilegious in some circles.  Every sperm is sacred. Birth control threatens to diminish the pool of consumers required by Wall-Mart.

  1. Migh Finances
    October 31, 2011 at 12:46 am

    If we can keep public wealth out of their hands by cutting entitlements, health care and other social programs, keep wages low, and rents high, what’s the problem?

    Now who’s the party of “no”?

  2. Ponder z
    October 31, 2011 at 6:26 am

    A very small percentage of Christians not practicing birth control raise the population. Let us examine the population of the Muslims. The Chinese and Indians too. You see, your liberal mind only wants to attack the Christians. That Is how I read the HH today! Your only way to save mother earth is to quietly HANG yourself in a closet.

  3. Elena
    October 31, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Actually the elephant in the room is the tradition of blaming the poor for their plights. Your apocalyptic Malthusian dooms-day narratives speak to this popular tradition. By deploying “abstract factors” like fertility and population to explain away environmental degradation, hunger, and poverty. This relieves those in power of any responsibility. The elite, powerful, privileged, and numerically few, help themselves to a disproportionate share of the worlds resources.
    So sorry I don’t want to make population the elephant in the room. I would rather talk about the over consumption of the worlds resources by the wealthy 1%, than the supposed over population of the other 99%. Although the ‘we’, the minority elite who populate the industrialized nations, have been shown to cause more environmental damage than the ‘they’ that populate the majority world, this continually seems to miss arguments such as the one you make. I’ll end my tirade with a wonderful quote by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva who so eloquently put it, the “ecosystems in the Third World, however, do not merely carry local populations; they also carry the North’s demands for industrial raw material and consumption.

  4. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 8:46 am

    World population raises 1 billion in 12 years. It’s exponential. It’s unsustainable. People don’t get it. How frustrating that not breeding is the individuals’ only choice and ignorant religious zealots are outlawing contraception.

  5. Elena
    October 31, 2011 at 8:55 am

    It’s not always the individuals choice. The US has engaged in sterilization campaigns. maybe we should go down that route?

  6. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I’d prefer science based education. But plague is probably inevitable anyway.

  7. Goldie
    October 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

    It’s not class warfare, it’s math. It is called infestation when species other than our own become too many. There seems to be a belief that this planet can support how ever many billions of people we put on it if only we ____________. Fill in the blank. Go vegan, all share, use wind power, protect water rights, outlaw the wealthy, and so on. I imagine humanity will come up with no cure but the laws of nature and change will.

  8. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 9:23 am

    If the governments cared (that is, not cattled us around as slaves) they’d sponser population decrease through simple education and something like a financial/medical/etc. reward/reimbursement for people over a certain age who, for whatever reason, have never had any children. People wtihout children in old age have additional troubles and no kin to help. There couldn’t be any “milking” it. Give people past say 60 $X every year and thereafter that they don’t have children, as without having any children, they’ve opened up all the jobs, natural and financial resources, etc. to somebody else and saved us generations of “carbon feetprint” to come. Something like that. It’s common sense, would totally pan out financially. Except that the uber-wealthy see us as slaves or good-for-nothing free roaming beasts at best.

  9. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Plague may be inevitable but war is inevitable when populations explode with their subsequent expansions.

  10. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 9:27 am

    …and it should be recognized that when it comes to the issue of overpopulation, a spotlight is shown on “ethnic people”, case in point the video above. Half a billion is already way too much in this country alone. First worlders dominate resource consumption (hoard it, actually), pollute the whole planet, etc.

  11. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I disagree, 9:26. War ONLY happens when a tiny group of rich government folk say it happens. Us wage slaves are not to blame.

  12. High Finance
    October 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

    “The world’s population will increase by 40% to 9.1 billion in 2050, but the growth will be in the developing world. The population in less developed countries was expected to swell from 5.3 billion to 7.8 billion in 2050. The population of richer countries will remain unchanged, at 1.2 billion.”

    So, despite the rhetoric in the above posts, this isn’t a problem caused by the “1% elites”. This isn’t a problem that can be effectively addressed by our government or the governments of the First World countries. This is a problem that cannot be stopped or even slowed until the poor countries of the world tackle themselves.


  13. Dan
    October 31, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Lack of education= population growth.

  14. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 9:57 am

    and it should be recognized that when it comes to the issue of overpopulation, a spotlight is shown on “ethnic people”, case in point the video above.

    Sorry, no racism necessary to explain overpopulation. It’s religion. We’re told not to (or prevented from) using birth control and/or taught that it’s our mission in life to have as many children as possible. If you want to get global population under control, push education, because the more educated a people are, the less religious they are. That route will be easier than convincing religious leaders to change their minds and teach their followers to stop making so many babies.

  15. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:04 am

    War has been with us for lots of reasons 9:29. Whether in the guise of religion, ideology, or economics. But territorial disputes have always arisen when centralized populations must import their needs from constantly expanding sources of raw materials. An expanding need for resources is the necessary condition of an unsustainable society and conflicts with neighbors results. Population is a primary factor.

  16. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

    except we’re animals, 9:57, and unless you wanna lie about it SEX trumps religion, sorry. Education, yes, very important. religious people alike can wake up to conflicting realities of morality and mortality. But put yourself in the shoes of the religiously orthodox populators. The gizmo-rich white folk with their polluting planet pavers are taking over the world, and those white folk (like hi finance and 9:57) repeatedly blame the religiously orthodox for the world’s problems, while breeding themselves into stacked shoeboxes in their own country. AND polluting everybody’s land the whole time.

    The problem is first world civilization. Nature took care of the problem forever before.

  17. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:10 am

    10:04, if you wanna side with the warmongers, be my guest. I, however, have never nor will I ever declare war, let alone participate in it.

    So even to humor your reasoning, it stands as fact that war ONLY happens when a tiny group of rich government folk (99% of them white) say it happens.

  18. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:11 am

    “Mormons breed like Roman Catholics on ecstasy. ” Bill Maher

  19. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:13 am

    So there’s no war in Africa? 10:11?

  20. Mitch
    October 31, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Build liberal societies that reduce the oppression of women and reduce early mortality rates and birth rates will fall. The evidence is clear and non-controversial:


  21. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

    SEX trumps religion, sorry.

    Religion trumps birth control. I win.

  22. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Donald trumps birthers

  23. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:23 am

    10:13, more discussion than I’m going to involve myself in. yes, war in africa (you were asking rhetorically, i assume). Look closely at their war, poor and indebted to the first world for land, resources and claims of nationality. “wild people” in brutal skirmishes. Meanwhile, the US government has jack booted cyber-troopers over there as well doing all kinds of covert ops, as well in every third world despot that exists. Genocide is in progress (killing off old iraq as we speak), first world contracters are busy wiring living-cages and building starbucks for new slaves along the way. Etc.

    The situation is very very grim, but it needs to be recognized.

  24. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:25 am

    sex trumps birth control, obviously. You lose. You lose in a much worse way if you don’t understand how or why.

  25. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:29 am

    mitch, statistics like that fail. They suck the humanity out of the numbers. Overpopulation wasn’t an issue UNTIL industry. The problem is pollution and resource consumption, and that’s happening in the first world. The poor folk are left to run around uneducated in polluted cesspools wondering why they aren’t among the chosen ones who get to push buttons on blinking light boxes from the comfort of a magically heated room with another room full of food nearby.

  26. grackle
    October 31, 2011 at 10:32 am

    A marvelous irony is the frequent number of news reports and articles that decry the dropping and stagnant populations in various western countries- I recall seeing such reports on Germany, Italy etc. in the last year. But hey no one ever said humans have to be consistent. We are ever eager to say it’s someone else’s fault, whatever it may be.

  27. Thorstein Veblen
    October 31, 2011 at 10:32 am

    population growth + climate change = ?

  28. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:32 am

    The 1% is responsible for taking advantage in modern ways in an old game. Population is the subject of this post. Control the 1% (I wish) and population still grows.

  29. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Man, I’m glad I’m not the parent of that seven billionth kid! What a stigma!

  30. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:41 am

    10:32, that’s skewing the timeline. The 1% created the problem, and they’re maintaining it. I’d argue that they’re encouraging it, as there’s obviously NO formal education whatsoever to the issue, and a requisite of the American Dream is still to have a large family and all the treasures of the first world.

  31. Goldie
    October 31, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Agriculture created overpopulation not industry.

  32. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I’m with thorstein (i think…). The apocalypse has been happening for quite awhile already. Gonna get a whole lot worse really fast too. Within our lifetime (mine anyway) gonna see some real shit hit the environemntal fan.

  33. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I agree that the 1% is the problem, but not the genesis of the problem. Get it?

  34. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:47 am

    sex trumps birth control, obviously.

    Religion trumps sex and birth control. Religion explains why birth rates are high in strongly religious poorly educated countries and much lower in less religious more highly educated countries. There is a correlation between religion and lower levels of education. There is a correlation between high birth rates and both religosity and lower levels of education. This, my friend, is called evidence. I hope you will avail yourself of it.

  35. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:48 am

    i’d agree with that, goldie, but aboriginal societies learned how to farm just the same. Agriculture is a precursor to industry, and industry is specific. Also, completely counter to other arguments above, not some but MOSt aboriginal RELIGIONS teach that the whole world isn’t anybody’s for the taking…that it is in fact alive along with all life on it, and we are to live with it, not against it.

  36. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Addendum: In short, you have access to a web browser. The data is available from both official governmental sources and NGO sources. Evidence is stronger than opinion.

  37. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am

    10:47, a person who grew up in a cave can be as religious as a person who grew up in manhattan. Sex came first, dummy. We’re animals. The philosophies of any religion still isn’t instinct. Nature had us all in check before __________.

  38. Anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 11:04 am

    nature still has us in check.

  39. Bolithio
    October 31, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Don’t worry, the singularity will arrive soon. Hopefully in our lifetime.


  40. Plain Jane
    October 31, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Nature will have us in check mate, pun intended. Or to put it another way, nature bats last.

  41. Mitch
    October 31, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Yes, Bolithio.

    Bill Gates and Rush Limbaugh, for all eternity. The Bible may have been right.

  42. Goldie
    October 31, 2011 at 11:18 am

    There seems to be agreement that overpopulation is a real problem. A cracking web of problems, soil depletion, cruelty, aquifers so huge that they cover several states are going dry, freeways that look like car lots and the congestion lasts for days. Every once in awhile an event comes forward that gives us a glimpse at what too many people looks like.
    We see remains of former civilizations and we wonder where they went. They are gone. And us? Are we so special that we will not go?

  43. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 11:26 am

    i agree completely, 11:04. Specifically, however, the timeline doesn’t correlate with our particular animal behavior.

    People are animals.
    Language is our noise.
    Religion is language.
    Greed is the seed.

    99% of us are not the kind of greedy that would allow the current world situation to be what it is. The proof is all history of life on earth. All former civilizations that began to bloom as ours, did themselves in because the one greedy percent controlled what industry they had, and intentionally utilized language to further their own cause.

  44. Mitch
    October 31, 2011 at 11:29 am


    Fear not. Rush will live on to greet the folks from Alpha Centauri. And he’s gonna have an iPhone 7

  45. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I mean, 11:04, that regardless of how much “we” are in check, “we” are not in check well enough that the problem wasn’t able to become what it is. “We”, alive today, are fucked, and every child born is going to be even more fucked for a long time still coming. The greedy 1% who have taken control of the resources are not allowing, let alone facilitating, the immediate changes that need to happen for us to regain “control”. “quotes” “suck” “and” “I” “hate” “using” “them” but “whaddya gonna” “do”.

  46. Bolithio
    October 31, 2011 at 11:36 am

    We are so far from being fucked we may as well be Protestants.

  47. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 11:44 am

    bolithio, is it any surprise that somebody who works for the logging industry would say we’re still in the green? Ya, bolithio, we (literally) stand a good chance of dying from old age. But every year that goes by is one closer to doom, and all the children born for centuries to come will be worse off.

    Don’t forget, environmental catastrophy (relative to life on earth as we know it) happens exponentially. The blink of an eye that is your life could change in the blink of an eye. One winter that lasts just a few days too long, one summer that’s just a few degrees too hot. Wait! Already happened, and still happening. Wooly mamoths frozen in glaciers with the fresh flowers they were in the process of eating still in their mouths.

    AND all the fresh water is dissipating at an increasing rate. We’re definitely fucked. Thanks for supporting clearcutting, Bolithio!

  48. Goldie
    October 31, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Here’s another little math thing. Picture 100 people. Divide them into two groups. One group has 99 people in it and the other group has 1. So the 99 people are not happy and say that one guy has all their money and all the fun and is causing trouble. They decide to make a change. They see that it is their money and choices that give that one guy all of his money. So you know what they do? They all quit Netflix. Yes! 800,000 people quit giving Netflix their money and Netflix goes away. Moral of the story?

  49. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 11:52 am

    goldie, we’re animals. You know the delima as well as righteous old me typing this from a computer. You definitely recognize the importance of education in the big picture. Propaganda is education, the commercial machine is propaganda. You and I have been spoonfed bullshit since the day we were born, because our parents and their parents before them were burried in bullshit. The 99%, having been born into an electric lala land, are at the informational mercy of the 1%

    If nobody had made this computer, if nobody had made the massive amounts of industry required to make this computer, if nobody continued to spend billions of dollars bombarding people with the idea that they need computers. If the 1% stopped shoving netflix and mcdonalds down our throats….

  50. Goldie
    October 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Exactly my point. We are helpless. Our parents, our potty training, our culture, our tvs… alas, there is nothing at all that can be done. Especially as there is only 99 of ‘us’ to 1 of them. Poor us. That 1% is so bad, so very bad and powerful too. oh my.

  51. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    …to simplify the math thing while taking into account all things animal/human: effect/effort in changing 99 people’s way of thinking about the culture around them that is controlled by 1 person vs. effect/effort in changing 1 person’s way of thinking when that 1 person controls all the resources, and information about those resources.

    As easily as 1 parent of 30 kids controls them, or 1 department manager controls 100 employees, and 1 district manager controls 100 department managers, and 1 vice president controls 100 district managers….the problem is the 1%.

  52. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I agree with your 12:01. The apocalypse is happening right now, and it’s just getting started…with a bang in the big picture, but a whimper in our lifetime.

    What if you went back to, say 1800 and showed some typical family how great their equivelant life would be in 200 years…with whopping 1,000 or so square foot boxes stacked side by side and on top of eachother that they have to work every day through the prime of their lives to call home…being fed processed food stuff loaded with chemicals….being told that there is so much more they could have if they just worked even harder and gave up even more for even longer, but realistically that’s all they will ever have and history proves it. The situation is Fucked.

  53. Walt
    October 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    In the winter in the Summer
    Don’t we have fun
    Times are bum and getting bummer
    Still we have fun
    There’s nothing surer
    The rich get rich and the poor get children
    In the meantime
    In the between time
    Ain’t we got fun.

    -Egan and Kahn, 1921

  54. Bolithio
    October 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    11:44, why limit your point of view? You think because i work in the timber industry i don’t support sustainability? You’ve got me in the wrong box bro.

    1: We are nature.

    2: Nothing can be changed except ourselves!

  55. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Bolithio, change yourself. Support an immediate cease and desist on clearcutting. Fewer than 1% are involved in YOUR industry. YOU and the people YOU work for need to stop.

  56. High Finance
    October 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Silly 12.15pm. You must have been asleep during history class.

    If you had told that person from 1800 and told them that in 200 years they wouldn’t have to worry about several of their children dying during childhood, not have to worry about their lives being cut short because of the flu and any number of other diseases, not have to worry about starvation, that their kids would get a free education through 12 grades they would think it would be paradise.

  57. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    troll alert @ 2:01! Don’t feed!

  58. Thorstein Veblen
    October 31, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Well, Hi Fi, project out to 250 years, with continued population growth, climate change, elevated oceans, resistant strains of common bacteria, nuclear accidents, etc., is that still paradise? Or ask a sick and starving Somali if life today is much better than in 1800. That you and I have lived in an extraordinary time and place doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look forward to the world our progeny might inherit. In fact, we owe it to them all the more.

  59. Bolithio
    October 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    1:38. It took me over a decade of studying forests to move beyond a pamphlet understanding of forest practice. That decade took me across the world where I have seen many types of logging, many types of cultures and enviornmental understanding and practice. We are the 1%, here is CA with the strictest, tightest logging rules on the planet.

    BTW, the people I work for dont clearcut. So STFU!!!

  60. anonymous
    October 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Bolithio spends over a decade of study and career practice in the logging industry and emerges giving it a thumbs up. Anybody surprised?

    And Bolithio’s final claim is a bold faced lie, playing the game of semantics to justify his “exact words”. Change YOU. Tell the people YOU work with to stop what THEY are doing. WE are not clearcutting, WE are not razing the forests of this country. YOU and the people YOU work for are. FUCK YOU for your constant PR soft talk bullshit trying to get people to think we’re all responsible for YOUR industry’s actions. The caps lock is for emphasis…”bro”. Happy halloween!

  61. tra
    October 31, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Finite resources + endless population growth + endless increase in per-capita resource use = resource depletion.

  62. High Finance
    October 31, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Who are the trolls 2.35pm and 5.07pm ?

    Those of us who actually post something of substance or those of you who only launch personal attacks like you ?

  63. High Finance
    October 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    The question being Tra, is how “finite” are those resources ?

    We have enough oil in the shale fields alone to last more than one hundred years. Plenty of time to develop practical and workable alternative without panic or painful sacrifice.

  64. Bolithio
    October 31, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    So anon at 5:07 and presumably other times… Are you that blinded by hate that you cant reach out and touch the olive branch? If you had been here since Redwood Summer or earlier, you might have learned by now that progress occurs when people work together. By screaming insults and refusing to hear what others say, you dont help your cause.

    Why is it that everyone on this blog just assumes that all logging around here is on industrial timberland and by clear-cut? How many times do I have to point out that there are 1.5 million acres of timberland here, and since 1994 us folks in the non-industrial sector have put over 200,000 acres under permanent selective based sustained yield plans? Not to mention the other 500K acres that are not industrial ownerships who manage their timber. PALCO’s 250K acres is now managed with selection harvests only. And they actually have old growth that wont be cut – unlike green diamond which was completely clear cut before you all were born! So ya, alot of us have been working (literally) for change for some time.

    So lighten up, anonymous environmentalist’s, and realize that everyone in the timber industry doesn’t fall into that box.

    Oh and if you dont believe me about logging practices in other states and countries, go there and see!! You can start with Oregon. Then try WA, ID. Then go to Canada. If your not impressed yet, you can take your pick of central and south American countries. Asia is another winner in sustainability! Try Siberia, or India. Compare just about anywhere with here and its pretty clear, we are ahead of the curve. Its not a perfect system, but good god, there are 7 billion people!!! We are lucky there any rules at all!!!

  65. tra
    October 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Finite is finite, HiFi. Finite resources can be stretched and the day of reckoning postponed, but in the end the equation is the same. The point is not to panic, it’s to recognize the situation while there is still time to improve the situation.

    So we would be well-advised to find a way to live on this planet that does not deplete it’s resources — because what is our alternative? Unless, of course, we move on to another planet. I hear they found another one that might be somewhat close to being habitable, with a whole lot of work.

    And it’s only about 100 million light-years away. So if we can just create a spacecraft that can travel at just under the speed of light, we could be there in just a little over 100 million years. Problem solved!

  66. Dan
    November 1, 2011 at 7:04 am

    PALCO’s 250K acres is now managed with selection harvests only.
    And they actually have old growth that wont be cut.
    Bolithio 7:43
    This seems to mis-represent what really happened.
    And Bolithio, isn’t it correct that Palco no longer has the
    mill set-up to log the old ones even if it had the trees? Disgrace. This is not
    selection-harvest it is mitigation.

  67. Bolithio
    November 1, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Actually Dan, PALCO was systematically liquidated following a hostile take over by MAXXAM. In the end, they sold out. The new company that bought the lands and mill has a different land management policy; namely no clear cutting.

    And if selection was a necessary mitigation for clear cutting or lack of old growth, explain green diamond?!

    Oh, and the mill at Scotia can handle any size log. Its just not set up to be an old growth exclusive mill like Mill A was.

  68. Apologist Not
    November 2, 2011 at 12:32 am

    “We have enough oil in the shale fields alone to last more than one hundred years. Plenty of time to develop practical and workable alternative without panic or painful sacrifice”. (Hi Irony @7:41).

    This from the fool who elected Ronald Reagan twice, promoting a Reich-Wing in denial for a generation, who now sounds like the Dali-Obama offering us hopium and (spare) change illusions that the peons deserve.


  69. Dan
    November 2, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Went to the Manila- League of Women Voters- Debate last night.
    After reams of paper worth in tax money for wetlands education,
    not one of the candidates knew where our wetlands are or what a wetland is.
    The Friends of the Dunes has squandered our wetlands money, education has been nothing but terrorizing benevolent coastal ice-plant and ammophila, leaving acres of eroded dunes that drain wetlands. Teaching eradication as restoration.
    Wetlands severely damaged (no longer function), wildlife gone, trees gone, biotic-crust gone, stability gone, wind direction change, meander-line altered- this is just the tip.

    Post Katrina, post awareness of relative sea-level rise, post alert that storms are intensifying-one has to ask, what the hell?

    Twenty-one adults pulling vegetation off our fore-dunes last Saturday, coastal catastrophe due to lack of stewardship and backwards science. There is no one at the rudder.

    Thanks to the League of Women’s Voters. Well done.

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