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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Overpopulated? I think not.

I did some thumbnail calculations tonight and this is what I found out.

  1. Let's say we have 6.5 billion people in this world.
  2. If we placed all 6.5 billion people in this world in one place where each one occupied 21 square feet lying down (3ft. x 7 ft.) they would occupy ONLY 233 square miles.
  3. Let's say we use all of our currently cultivated land for food. (6,679,143 sq. mi.)
  4. This will equal 0.65764 acres per person cultivated land.
  5. Let's say each person requires 2200 calories worth of food per day to survive.
  6. This means each person will need 803,000 calories per year to survive.
  7. If we can grow 26,500 pounds of potatoes per acre, this means 0.65764 acres can produce 5,533,463 calories per year. THAT's MORE THAN 803,000 calories!

So my point is this.

  1. The sun can produce many more calories per acre than we need for food.
  2. Cultivated land area can be increased by adding things like irrigation and making our unproductive land into productive land by using things like desalination plants (like Israel does), and doing other things. (See for more examples.)
  3. There's still plenty of unused fertile land we can use to produce food.
  4. I didn't count anything we can get from the oceans and lakes.

We, as humans, like to aggregate into cities. This means what we see is "overpopulation" and start thinking there's too many people on this planet.

Let me know how you feel when your out in the vast wilderness areas left in this world that's not used for anything.... you'll start wishing there were more people around.

The total land area of the earth is 57,506,059 square miles.
(Our total populaton occupies 233 sq. miles laying down!)



Why do people starve? I say politics is the biggest reason.

How can 233 square miles of ANYTHING affect global ANYTHING!

The world has a surface area of 196,939,911 square miles. (i.e. the population occupies only 233/196,939,911 th of the worlds surface area.

That's only 0.000118% that we occupy! Do you really think we have any power to affect anything?

What should we concentrate on for our own good?

1) Food Preservation and transportation.
2) Fuel Production (Just to make life easier and to transport food.)

If the world economy goes down the tubes... we'll all be OK
If we could learn to get along with each other...we'd have paradise on earth for many billions of years to come. (As long as we take care of what we got. And we've got plenty.)

See the world..., see what's left...


Common Sense Guy said...

How would one manage to move all 7 billion people to one location. How would we go about choosing said location. Where were the calculations for the space required for public buildings, schools, hospitals, police departments etc. Where are the calculations for the other types of plants we would need to grow for a healthy varied diet, fabrics so on and so forth. how do we gather resources when no single location will be abundant in all the minerals and raw materials we need to build and manufacture daily necessities.

My point is that your calculations are a complete underestimate of the land requirements for modern lifestyles.

Rebecca Danielle Jao said...

Could you also take into account the rainforests & mountains we should not destroy since we actually need those (i.e oxygen) and the other creatures besides human beings that live on this planet? And also the inhabitable areas like maybe the arctic?

PS I'm not sarcastic, just genuinely curious. And I don't do math well :)

Anonymous said...

We do not have enough fresh water for the increasing population. Ever heard of the Water Wars in California?

Anonymous said...

I feel that your analysis is flawed. It does not account for the space and resources required for all other species (besides human) to thrive on Earth. Many large animals and migrating herds require a lot more space than their physical size.

For simplicity, the analysis gathers all the people in 1 location and suggests that enough land will be left over for cultivation. In reality, nations will not relocate all their citizens to 1 location. There isn't 1 location large enough to accommodate the world's population AND is live-able (i.e. moderate weather year-round, no mountains, no dessert). By concentrating the population in 1 location, the immediate surrounding area will be highly polluted with our wastes (waste treatment, land fills) and unable to sustain other forms of life (except for flies, insects, and various microbes).

The analysis assumes that people can be sustained with potatoes from the sun's energy (or whatever else can be easily cultivated in large quantities). Speaking for myself, I enjoy eating all kinds of meats/vegetables and prefer not to limit myself to tubers. I believe a majority of the population is the same, so in order to feed us, larger amounts of land/resources will be required.

Lastly, marine life in the oceans are unfortunately on the decline. I am a scuba diver and have noticed thinner marine life populations in the same location over the past decade. So I don't know how long we can rely on the oceans to provide.

Anonymous said...

I found your article purely by chance, but was attracted by the headline figure of the assertion that humans would only take up 233 sq.mi

A few back-of-the-envelope jottings instead lead me to a figure of ~5000 sq.mi

Changing the subject slightly, it'd be interesting to see how the figures of your main calculation would change if we factored in the energy consumption of livestock.


Miriam Kattumuri said...

Amazing!! Very well said. You throw a straight dagger on all this over population rubbish. Thank you! I always knew this in my heart but am happy to know that others think and are writing about this as well. Keep up the great work.