Fascinating fun fact of the day: if the rest of the world was, how shall we say… as portly as US citizens, it would be the biomass equivalent of having an extra billion “average sized” people on the planet.
In this simple interactive animation by Periscopic, in partnership with UNICEF, we see the changes in urban population from 1950 up to present, through projections for 2050. Circle size represents urban population and color is an indicator for the percentage of people living in cities or towns.
The United Nations gives a loose estimate that the world population will hit seven billion people sometime in the next few days.
It wasn’t so long ago that we hit six billion, and looking back 60 years global population was 2.5 billion.
At the Wall Street Journal, William McGun writes that added mouths to feed shouldn’t concern us. Instead, he suggests, we should look at the human potential among us:
At Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs tells CNN “the consequences for humanity could be grim.” Earlier this year, a New York Times columnist declared “the earth is full,” suggesting that a growing population means “we are eating into our future.” And in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette editorializes about a “human swarm” that is “overbreeding” in a way that “prosperous, well-educated families” from the developed world do not.
The smarter ones acknowledge that Malthus’s ominous warnings about a growing population outstripping the food supply were not borne out in his day. The track record for these scares in our own day is not much better. Perhaps the most famous was Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 “The Population Bomb,” which opened with these sunny sentences: “The battle to feed all humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”…
…The truth is that the main flaw in Malthus is precisely his premise. Malthusian fears about population follow from the Malthusian view that human beings are primarily mouths to be fed rather than minds to be unlocked. In this reasoning, when a pig is born in China, the national wealth is thought to go up, but when a Chinese baby is born the national wealth goes down.
Since we Americans are notorious in our lack of geographical understanding of the world, the Economist brings the world to America with a nice infographic that maps countries to individual states based on GDP and population data.
For example, Russia is now Texas, both sharing a GDP of approximately $1.2 trillion. Or flip to actual population and Saudi Arabia is now Texas, with approximately 25 million people.
The interface is built with Flex (Adobe’s open source Web application framework). The info’s from the IMF and the US Census Bureau.