We environmental types love to discuss energy efficiency, solar power, and clean fuels, but let’s be honest: we live on a finite clump of dirt, and there are a LOT of people vying for a limited number of resources. If we cut our energy use in half per person, but double the population, we’re simply treading water. That’s why demographic studies are so key to environmental policy and planning.
In case you didn’t hear, the new US census data was released this week and revealed that the population has grown to 308,745,538 people. That’s 9.7% higher than the 2000 number, indicating the slowest growth rate since the 1940′s.
World wide, the trend has been similar, with the rate of growth seeming to slow down ever so slightly as we push 7,000,000,000 people. This video from the economist lays out the trends with some helpful infographics:
That slowed growth is a good thing, as we reach something like equilibrium on this burgeoning planet. Sure, there’s lots of space left to put people, houses, and roads, but not at the same sparse density as we’ve used in the US suburbs.
Though I dream of owning a couple of acres out in the country, it’s not a sustainable dream for all of humanity. Something’s gotta give!