Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? (2009)

Do you know the following facts?
  • The current world population is just under 7 billion.
  • Every year 80 million babies are born.
  • Each additional being needs water, food & energy.
  • Already more than a billion people don't have access to safe drinking clean water.
  • A can of beer uses of 150 litres of water. Production of a cotton shirt takes 3000 litres of water.
These are some of the important facts shown in this programme.
Along with the brief description of the programme, I posted a few thoughts of mine below.

How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? is an episode of BBC Horizon series & is narrated by the one & only, ever indefatigable Sir David Attenborough. In the programme David discusses about the affect of population growth on our ability to obtain food, water & energy. Also the danger to the environment due to rapid population growth is discussed. David also talks about the duty of individuals to commit to smaller families & to change the way they live for the sake of humanity and planet Earth. He makes an interesting but true observation which is although we humans do care about our near ones, thinking about our species as a whole was never our strong point.

There is a prediction of 9 billion humans (which I believe is a very minimum estimate) by 2050. But the sad thing about our water resources is that amount of water on earth is always a constant. It has remained the same since the evolution of humans. For thousands of years the human population on earth was below 1 million. Check the image below. Difficult to believe, ain't it? It raised slowly to 1 billion by 1800 a.d. Then the industrial revolution peaked & more importantly germ theory was established which resulted in better medicine & the population exploded. The reason for me putting the below image is for you to check the population growth & at the same time note the most important thing which is neither the area on earth nor the amount of water are increasing. Somehow I see wars in future not for oil but for water & land.

There was a lady from Mexico City in the programme saying how they have to flush the toilet after 2-3 people use it. Just picture this in your home with you being the 3rd person. Don't read, just imagine. Image is a little disgusting, isn't it? And think about the water in a full bathtub. There are areas where a family will use water full of a bathtub for a whole week. So, Am I saying that since some people are having worst living conditions, everybody should live in the same way? Of course not, but there is a difference between using resources wisely & wasting the resources. How do we define waste in our daily life? That I leave to your commonsense. Becoming a little preachy?

Actually the programme length is 60 minutes but it took me 180 minutes to complete. That is because so many thoughts were generating in my mind that I have to pause it many times. I strongly recommend to google this & watch in your spare time. A very interesting & thought-provoking programme.

Another thing discussed by Sir David is the relation between water, food & energy. Everything is related to everything. An affect on one parameter will have consequences on others. The current exploitation of African countries for food is quite startling & disturbing. I wonder when they will be left in peace. Probably when people with honesty & integrity take over the African Countries.

Coming to the main point of the programme which is population growth, I strongly think that 2 should be the limit for a family & an even better thing is to adopt 1 of the 2 children. Governments all over the world should ban couples from giving birth to more than 2 children from 2011. A couple of days ago, I was seeing some random blogs from the navbar at the top of the page & there was this blog of a lady from America (I don't remember the city). She has this beautiful photo with her husband & 4 daughters (all are under 10). There was a caption below that photo after reading which, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Although I don't remember the exact caption, it was something like this "I am giving birth to a boy in a few months which would complete our happy family". Get ready for another sermon. I know advising people on the number of children they should have is highly personal as well as offensive to them. In India there are/were a couple of famous politicians who have some 13 or 15 children each. When I was young & naive, I asked my Mom whether these particular politicians are humans or some kind of buffaloes. My Mom laughed & told me that a few decades back there is no family planning or contraception. So we can excuse them. But what about now? I can understand if the people are uneducated or from underdeveloped countries. There are some moronic medieval "you know who" forces working against contraception, condoms & family planning especially in the African countries. But any person with basic understanding & education should seriously think about controlling the population growth. It is actually a moral obligation towards humanity. Even in India, I don't see a single educated person in the last decade who has more than 2 children. I hope the future America & England doesn't become like the present China & India. There are some actions which have immediate consequences such as shooting a person in the brain. But the effect of population is not instant. The repercussions of today's actions will be affecting future generations. I guess that's enough torture for you.

Coming to the actual question "How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?", I'm not giving the answer to you. If you really want to know, see the programme (which I recommend) & find yourself.

Before leaving, once again see the above image & think for a couple of minutes about the poulation level on earth for the last 100,000 years, current population, where it is going in the future, the strain it is putting on the resources (as I said area & water on Earth are constant), what can you do about conserving resources. Think for a couple of minutes. 


  1. Oh my gosh, I wanted to post a very short note but this is looking big & I haven't even posted a third of what I was actually thinking. I used to wonder how do people write those giant articles/essays in papers, etc,. Looks like all you need is a little practice. Since not many people are commenting on my posts :( :( :( I am reading my posts & I am commenting below them.

  2. Amaresh do u have the direct link to this program to view in net.... please do that if u have tat.... good going in the blog as a whole Amaresh

  3. Siva YalamanchiliApril 8, 2010 at 2:10 AM

    Good Job Amaresh... u have become quite a blogger... keep it up... hopefully by 2050 World Population shouldn't cross 8 Billion Mark... for God's sake !!!

  4. @Naresh
    See your orkut message box for the answer to your question.

  5. The train scene with eveyone hanging out reminds me of RTC bus strike during college days :) .. as you were talking about thoughts.. imagine we can get data/facts how much water do we have, how much is human population, how much does each country/state/region consume.. how long we will live at that rate - This is something no one can debate.. no one can argue.. hmm I do beleive large agencies like UNO/UNFCCC might be having such information.. this is something no religion/book/arrogance/ignorance can debate or contradict right.. Can some one give me more light on why developed countries (to avoid quoting US for all problems of 20 th century :)) are treated differently $,£ is more valuable than Rs/Yuan - I am sure ppl in all the nations born at same time are working as hard as other.. May be the issues are so complicated that people are entangled in details

  6. One quick fact about population in developed countries luckily/unluckily for them at this point marraiges are not working as well as one would like and hence they they generally are encouraging child births esplly Australia is one example I am aware of..
    BTW you can use google statistics to check how population of various countries have been progressing....
    BTW I am not sure if there was program with theme,
    Worlds largest empire - Us :)
    Though it is not nearly heaven for everyone this is the largest existence of Humans there ever was to our knowledge

  7. @ chinni,
    Marriages may be an issue. I don't know.

    I'm still in the honeymoon period (although at the end) with blogger as it's been only 1 month since my marriage with blogger. I spend 30-60 mins daily just with the next blog option at the top navbar because I find very interesting & diverse characters in blogosphere. What really really IRRITATES me is that daily I see atleast 3-5 people (happily married) with 4 children. Most of them are from U.S & U.K. These may be random samplings, but really irritating when educated people from developed countries talk about having 3 or more children.
    Something should also be done about Africa. The last time I checked, Africa is having 7 children per woman. 1. Highly corrupt politicians are the main problem. 2. Anybody who says/preaches no condom should be injected with AIDS.