Today – July 12 – is world population day
I was thinking the other day about the growth of our population and what it really means. How can we deal with it and how far can we grow?
I did the math:
If we would take the space of the entire US and populate it with a population density like for instance Munich, which is a very green city, not too crowded and has a very nice standard of living for everybody. Guess what – we could have 370 Billion people on that continent and the rest of the entire globe would be completely untouched – no human being anywhere else.
In other words: With a rather moderate squeezed in super population of 370 Billion people, still 93% of the planet would be completely unpopulated.
If we take the population density of New York we could squeeze in 1 Trillion people (1,000 Billion) in our Super continent and still 93% of earth would be our farmland with no human beings living there.
Considering regions with high mountains are just 5 – 10% of the space – water was not taken in consideration at all – So space on earth surely isn’t an issue for a long long time.
Food for everybody and the billions to come?
About 200 years ago 80% of the western population was involved in food production feeding the 100% of all. Today only 7% are involved in food production and 93% do other things. We have food for every human on earth and another 10 Billion if we re-arrange things a bit with the food production that we have already today. So availability of food isn’t an issue either.
Food distribution and clean water is a different story.
The way we distribute food is one of the bigger problems. Large corporations actually sell bad food that is no longer accepted in the western world into third world countries thinking “better than nothing”. But her starts the problem. It actually is so cheap that the local food producers get out of business and need to eat that imported rotten food that causes disease and even casualties. Our understanding of the global food production and distribution is so superficial that we often times damage more than we fix – even so we want to help. And this goes on for decades now. Fixing this would make a huge difference.
This is one of the biggest problems on earth. And it is not only a problem of third world countries – it is even an issue in highly developed California. There is simply not enough drinking water for all right now – given the way we consume water. But here again we mess with the resources in a COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE way. Every hour one billion developed households flush their toilet with millions of gallons drinkable water. The toilet water we flush would be enough to keep 20 Billion people alive. So also here it’s the distribution that is completely messed up.
It’s too expensive to help
I understand it is expensive. We would need to have a dual water supply system to every house where we supply drinking water to the kitchen and bathroom and even the lawn and a secondary system to provide sanitized regenerated water or even prepared salt water to the toilet, washing machines and other water needs. Then we would need to build pipes into these massively large continents with all those other people who are in desperate need.
Thoughts for a possible sustainable development
We have to accept that we will continue to grow. We will become 20 Billion and we will need to find ways to help all of them thrive. We will need to find ways how we can make them all happy and healthy, even rich earthlings. And rich is the key word. We need to think differently – instead of abusing their cheap labor which is always just a short term gain – we need to make them all happy and rich consumers.
If we think about emerging countries that want to grow and thrive like Uganda or Kenya and the hundreds of others we need to invest in helping those countries become world citizens and consumers of what we provide. China thrives and countries who are very engaged in bilateral relationships with China are thriving too. Coca Cola cost only a few cent in underdeveloped countries and it seems to work – why can’t other businesses do that?
If we stop thinking short term gains and begin thinking in sustainable development of the rest of the glob – we can all grow more than we can without them. Meaing it actually isn’t about accepting the growth – its welcoming that growth. All we need to do is make them happy, healthy and wealthy consumers and a world citizens. Think of a brand new market of 370 Billion people – lots to be produced and delivered there.
Learning from the Curch
The Catholic Church has the best business model in the world since over 1,600 years. With that much experience in building a sustainable growth and wealth we can learn one thing: A growing population is the best guarantee for long term wealth. We may not need to follow their methods or believe system but we can learn to thrive over centuries.