Rising human population may lead to sci-fi scenarios like that of Leviathan Wakes
Danica May Comacho was born earlier this week in the Philippines. In and of itself, that’s not really anything out of the ordinary. After, all, there’s an average of 4,500 babies born every day in the Philppines. But what made this particular baby so special was the fact that the U.N. decided to officially, and symbolically, anoint her as the world’s 7 billionth resident of Planet Earth.
Let that sink in for a second. 7 BILLION. That’s a LOT of people.
It took the world until 1804 to reach its first billion-person milestone. We hit 2 billion in 1927. After that the ball really started rolling. By 1959 we had hit 3 billion. In 1974 we were at 4 billion. 5 billion was achieved by in 1987. And in 1998 we hit 6.
It’s estimated that Planet Earth will reach 8 billion by 2025 and by 2083 we’ll be tipping the scales at a whopping 10 billion.
So what does all this mean exactly? Well, geographically, and on a smaller scale, when it comes to city living, those towering cityscapes we’ve been seeing in sci-fiction movies for years like Blade Runner and The Fifth Element will become science fact. The world’s biggest cities are pretty full already and they’re going to have to expand upward as opposed to outward. That means all kinds of fun skyways and “people movers” to take us, literally, “abovetown” and “belowtown”.
On a bigger scale, and probably a little further down the road, will come off-planet colonization. There’s a finite amount of land here on Earth and once it‘s full, or when enough of it’s been rendered uninhabitable, we’ll be forced to take to the stars, terraforming the moon and Mars, and filling planet sized asteroids with space stations like in James S.A. Corey’s new novel Leviathan Wakes.
But first and foremost it’s food, or a lack thereof, that will probably become the planet’s biggest concern. Entire nations of people have been on the brink of starvation for decades and things are only going to get worse when we’ve got a few billion more mouths to feed. If we’re not careful, we’ll be solving the global starvation problem by serving everyone Soylent Green the way they did in the 1973 Charlton Heston classic by the same name. (Spoiler alert: “Soylent Green is people!”)
Of course, there’s another, way of looking at this whole scenario. There are some who think we should never let the earth’s population get into the double digit-ed billions in the first place. The Chinese enacted a "one child per family policy" in 1979. That’s a start, but maybe we should set an age limit, too, ala the chilling 1967 novel Logan’s Run where every human is sent off to a “Sleepshop” at the ripe old age of 21? Too drastic? Or exactly what we need?
As we embark into the great unknown, with the planet filling up faster and faster every day, we leave you with three quotes. You can choose the one that best fits your own outlook on the future…
"Seven billion population is a challenge. And at the same time, an opportunity, depending upon how the international community prepares for that challenge." - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 2011
"Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life." – Oscar Wilde, 1889
“Life finds a way” - Dr. Ian Malcolm, 1993