over population - or not?

I found this tidbit on the web and I’m thinking that the math must be mistaken otherwise the lions and tigers would have plenty of room to roam, right??If you familiarize yourself with the myths surrounding “overpopulation,” you’ll be in a
better position to defend yourself and your family against these idealogical threats.
Myth 1: The world is overcrowded and population growth is adding overwhelming numbers
of humans to a small planet. In fact, people do live in crowded conditions, and always
have. We cluster together in cities and villages in order to exchange goods and services
with one another. But while we crowd together for economic reasons in our great metropolitan
areas, most of the world is empty, as we can see when we fly over it. It has been estimated
by Paul Ehrlich and others that human beings actually occupy no more than 1 to 3 percent of
the earth’s land surface.

If you allotted 1250 square feet to each person, all the people in the world would fit
into the state of Texas. Try the math yourself: 7,438,152,268,800 square feet in Texas,
divided by the world population of 5,860,000,000, equals 1269 square feet per person.
The population density of this giant city would be about 21,000 — somewhat more than
San Francisco and less than the Bronx.

The math is correct, although the population is a bit low. We’re up to nearly 6,300,000,000 now. Using more up-to-date numbers, we’d each get 1158 ft[sup]2[/sup]. The problem with the whole analysis is somewhat different, though. The lions and tigers (or whatever) are seldom cleared out to make way for a place for humans to live, but rather, a place to grow crops or mine resources or send cattle to graze, for the sake of humans. You couldn’t take care of all your basic life needs on 1250 ft[sup]2[/sup].

The math is correct, although the population is a bit low. We’re up to nearly 6,300,000,000 now. Using more up-to-date numbers, we’d each get 1158 ft[sup]2[/sup]. The problem with the whole analysis is somewhat different, though. The lions and tigers (or whatever) are seldom cleared out to make way for a place for humans to live, but rather, a place to grow crops or mine resources or send cattle to graze, for the sake of humans. You couldn’t take care of all your basic life needs on 1250 ft[sup]2[/sup].

The math is correct, although the population is a bit low. We’re up to nearly 6,300,000,000 now. Using more up-to-date numbers, we’d each get 1158 ft[sup]2[/sup]. The problem with the whole analysis is somewhat different, though. The lions and tigers (or whatever) are seldom cleared out to make way for a place for humans to live, but rather, a place to grow crops or mine resources or send cattle to graze, for the sake of humans. You couldn’t take care of all your basic life needs on 1250 ft[sup]2[/sup].

Overpopulation is more complicated than having enough “room” for everyone- the need (or use) of limited resources- food, fuel and so on is part of the problem. In some cases the resources are limited (oil, for example). In other cases, they’re used quicker than they can renew themselves- for example, cutting down the rain forests faster than they could ever grow back.I’m oversimplifying things a bit, but you get the idea.
Also, even though we all have room to stretch out in a Texas-sized chunk of land, keep in mind that the impact humans have on the envirnment had sent many animals extinct and has endangered many more- so even a handful of us can effect the environment at large.
I’m not saying we sould start shooting our neighbors or drowning babies, or even chastasing someone who has “too many” kids- you have the right to have as many kids as you can afford (in my book). Perhaps human ingenuity will solve some of these current problems so the world can more easily accomidate more of us. Or maybe human population will reach a critical mass where disease/starvation/disaster will kill off the excess. Who knows?

Population is at ~6.267 billion.
Productive land at 8.597 billion hectares (21.2 billion acres)
That doesn’t leave much room for the avacodo orchard I wanted.
http://www.idrc.ca/

LTT, you obviously have never been to the desert or other barren expanse where very little grows. Much of that “empty land” you’re talking about is useless for anything to help you lead a comfortable life.

As for the phrase: “you have the right to have as many kids as you can afford” - there’s the rub. Most people don’t bear the whole cost of their kids, plus every additional person takes a little from the “commons”.

See the oft-referenced article: “The Tragedy of the Commons” which was published in “Science” in 1968. Hardin says some controversial things though which you might not find to your liking.

http://www.constitution.org/cmt/tragcomm.htm

Remember that if you track population growth historically, it’s exponential. So even if we agree that there is more than enough room now, when growth is exponential, that space could fill up in a matter of a couple generations. On the other hand, population growth has levelled off in some parts of the world, and there are indications that it won’t continue the exponential trend it has followed historically, but the point remains that continued exponential growth in the poorest regions of the world could lead to environmental or humanitarian disasters.

Arguably, overpopulation already has contributed to environmental and humanitarian humanitarian disasters. Rwanda offers a pretty stark example of what can happen. I’ve no desire to get into a debate here, but a purely “theoretical” calculation of earth’s carrying capacity leave out a lot of very human variables.

Agreed, Squink, but the OP was about trying to calculate how much space we each have based on current levels of population. I was just trying to point out that basing this entirely on a snapshot of current population isn’t a reasonable assumption. As I said, “even if we agree that there is more than enough room now…” because other posters seemed to be addressing this assumption, not because I think it’s really agreed upon.

Sure, I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just emphasizing what I think is an important detail that tends to be glossed over.

If all the humans on earth were put through a blender and poured into a tank with a base of 1km x 1km, then its height would have to be:

To hold 6,300,000,000 x 40 litres (est.)
1 m3 = 1000 litres
so, 1 meter high = 1,000,000,000 litres

252 meters high.

Not much, eh?

BUT, do a search on ecological footprint.

According to this site:

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992521

human is already consuming more resources than the earth can sustainably produce. So in that sense the earth is overpopulated.

What matters isn’t so much the total number of people, but the resources those people are consuming. I assume you’re American? If so, its likely that you’re using about 5 times your “fair share” of the earths resources. Or to put it another way, if everyone made the same demands on the earths resources then humanity would need 5 earths to sustain itself.

By the way - why does it say you’ve made 0 posts?

Overpopulation isn’t about having so many people that you have to sleep standing up, no, it’s about resources and disease and stuff. I reckon that we’ll start farming Jupiter at some point and import so much food that overpopulation will mean “so many people that when they breathe we have to pump oxygen into the atmosphere to compensate for all the CO2.” =)

OTOH, come to think of it, I believe I’ve heard that the growth is levelling out.

It is levelling out in the western world, and Japan, and some very sttressed countries in the third world, but not elsewhere. To sustain a population of ten billion with American Standard of livingwe would need to exploit the parts of the world currently wilderness…
either for millions of square kilometers of solar power collectors or for high-cost desert agriculture.
It could be done, despite what the World Wildlife Fund suggest, but the world would be changed irrevocably.
Do we want a crowded house, or preserve the various wildernesses and their diverse habitats?

I know, but I meant that I was sure I’ve read that the world’s - as a whole - population growth is levelling out. It’s not my field, though, so maybe someone who reads more statistic-filled stuff on the subject can tell me ‘har har, oh, you dabbler in population growth and reader of popular science magazines, how you make us laugh’?

As I said, let’s head for Jupiter. =) [hijack], though, which I thought about while the Manned Space Travel thread was raging, but didn’t post at the time - would the added mass in minerals and so on brought in from mined asteroids and whatnot disturb our orbit, gravitational pull, etc?[/hijack]

The world changes every time we invent something new, I believe… Hey, we got rid of London’s coal smog, but we’ll need new things that are also cheap enough for poor countries.

For low environmental impact:
Wind, wave and solar power all have relatively low environmental impact, and boy can you have a lot of them, but we’ll need to make them more cost-efficient.
Find some plant that doesn’t mind being soggy, doesn’t care about the salt in sea water and can get nutrients from the sea, farm it in the ocean, on some floating thing that will float back up if it’s pushed under the water by a wave (though the farmer will need a snorkel on his tractor) so it doesn’t matter if there’s a storm (hey, combine it with wave power too?). If it tastes crap, pigs will eat it.