Earth’s population hits new milestone

On Saturday, the Earth’s population will reach six point five billion people. That’s a lot of people.

The good news, the rate of growth is slowing. The bad news, we’re still on track to hit seven billion by 2012, and the US will hit the 300 million mark by the end of the year.

I’m personally undecided if overpopulation is really something to worry about long term. On the one hand, the availability of birth control and socioeconomic factors means that babies are being born below replacement rate. It’s troubling that the poorest countries which can least deal with overpopulation are the ones growing the fastest; but if we presume that over the course of this century the same factors will start to affect them, we might even see a peaking of human population and eventually a decline.

On the other hand, we could also see an immortality drug in my lifetime, greatly reducing the death rate and accelerating growth.

Basically, there are too many X factors to make the case strongly either way, and though we’d probably do better to err on the side of caution as a species, there’s currently no way to do anything about it, particularly in the third world countries where population is growing the fastest.

Still, its a little worrying to see that population count climb with no clear way to support all those people.

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