Global Economy
Global population to grow to 7bn in 2011; Family photo of all humanity could be taken in area of Los Angeles city
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Jan 2, 2011 - 3:29 PM

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India: Its steaming streets crammed with vendors, pedestrians, and iconic Ambassador taxis, Kolkata throbs with some 16m people - - and more pour in every day from small towns. In 1975 only three cities worldwide topped 10m. Today 21 such mega cities exist, most in developing countries, where urban areas absorb much of the globe's rising population.

The National Geographic Society says the global population will grow to 7bn in 2011 and a family photo of all humanity could be taken in the area of Los Angeles city, which encompasses about 500 square miles.

It would take 200 years just to count to 7bn out loud!

The National Geographic says the population will expand to 9bn in 2045 while in developed countries, population will be contracting.

It took humans until about 1800 to reach a global population of one billion. In 130 years the population doubled. Since then adding a billion people to Earth's population has taken less and less time. in 1960, there were 3bn in the world and the population had grown to 6bn by 1999.

Robert Kunzig says with the population still growing by about 80m each year, it’s hard not to be alarmed. Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day. Decades from now, there will likely be 2bn more mouths to feed, mostly in poor countries. There will be billions more people wanting and deserving to boost themselves out of poverty. If they follow the path blazed by wealthy countries - - clearing forests, burning coal and oil, freely scattering fertilizers and pesticides - - they too will be stepping hard on the planet’s natural resources. How exactly is this going to work?

Kunzig says in the two centuries after Malthus declared that population couldn’t continue to soar, that’s exactly what it did. The process started in what we now call the developed countries, which were then still developing. The spread of New World crops like corn and the potato, along with the discovery of chemical fertilizers, helped banish starvation in Europe. Growing cities remained cesspools of disease at first, but from the mid-19th century on, sewers began to channel human waste away from drinking water, which was then filtered and chlorinated; that dramatically reduced the spread of cholera and typhus.

Africa's San people, the hunter-gathers once known as Bushmen, are genetically the oldest humans on earth. Their DNA carries more ancient evolutionary lineages than any other people and provides a direct link to the original common ancestor of all humans known as "Adam". He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means all humans lived in Africa until at least that time.

Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendants are the only ones to survive to the present day.

SEE: Finfacts articles:

Feb 2007: The National Geographic and IBM's Genographic Project: Charting the migratory history of the human species

Apr 2008: Global Food Crisis: Malthus, Food Price Surge, Climate Change and a 42% rise in World Population by 2050

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