One Finite Planet

One Finite Planet

Views of Future Population.

Date Published:

There are four different opinions of the future of the human population:

1) The human population can, and will, keep growing indefinitely.

2) The human population can keep growing indefinitely, and we may need intervention if there is any slowing of growth to ensure the growth keeps happening. In this view population growth is seen as essential for the economy and the population balance.

3) The human population cannot, or will not keep growing ,indefinitely and the economy will need to adjust to an economy without population growth. The population will stop growing of its own accord at a satisfactory level, so the economy is the only problem to solve.

4)  There is a limit to possible population growth on Earth.  Any pause in population or  ‘irreversible trend to slow growth’ may  not really happen and is already too late to prevent severe consequences from an already too large population. It cannot be assumed that population growth will stop as early as it should, leading to much greater problems when the inevitable stop must come.   The economy, which has evolved entirely in the growth phase, will need to make the painful adjustment to stable population and even manage declining population, plus the world needs an active approach to minimise consequences of overpopulation.

Which view is your current view?  If you have not given it much thought I would expect view (1) or (2) to the be the starting point.  I believe both the statistics on countries with birth-rates too low for population increase in my post ‘the catch 22‘ of population growth should be sufficient to move anyone to at least view (2).  The next step to view (3) requires an understanding that the population we can support is finite.  Moving to step (4) requires adopting the view that the current projected global population is above the ideal population.

If you read my posts you may come on the same journey I have come as my view evolved from view (1) to view (4).  Alternatively, you may find flaws with my arguments.  Either way, I hop you enjoy the ride.


  • 2015 Feb 24: typos

Table of Contents


Ideal population of humans: How many people can, or should, each country, and the whole planet support?

It seems like the human population has forever been growing, but any analysis makes it clear growth must stop eventually at some level. The question becomes at what level should growth stop?

Do we go for the maximum possible people just before everything collapses, even if average living standards could be far better with a smaller population? With caged hens being farmed for eggs people advocate for a lower free-range population instead of denser living caged hens as it provides a better existence, but does anyone advocate against multinationals and politicians pushing for denser and denser housing for humans in order to allow bigger populations of humans for them to farm?

It seems to be accepted that global population growth should stop but claimed that countries who end population growth face economic disaster.

Read More »

Overpopulation: starvation is not the symptom.

The Myth: We are not starving yet means we aren’t overpopulated. The Truth: Overpopulation is defined as when population reaches a level resulting in damaging to the environment and is unsustainable. Starvation only happens if overpopulation continues until a final catastrophic environmental collapse and is no more a symptom of overpopulation than death is a symptom of disease. Unsustainability is a symptom.

Consider grazing animal on a farm. Overpopulation means unattainability and the animals eat grass faster than it grows, starvation when there is no grass left.

We are not yet starving, but unsustainability means we are overpopulated, and progressively, all but perhaps the richest 1% must suffer if we fail to constrain population.

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Peak Population 2055: Really? That soon?

Is it realistic that Earth could reach peak population by 2055, there really the largest number of under 35s on Earth there will ever be? Peak newborns already? What is the reality, and what are the implications?

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Next steps for mankind don’t include the Sci-Fi dream of a new home planet.

There is a dream, often explored in science fiction, where humanity inhabits not just one planet, but many.

While the dream is still centuries away, as is ‘Earth 2.0‘, the reality, working towards small outposts on Mars or the Moon or even beyond is overwhelming compelling and can provide many rewards.

Humanity may get back up outposts, but for centuries, will have no real second home, and over 99% of us will still need to live on our one finite planet.

Read More »