The quantity, quality, and speed of change in the post-industrial world is mind boggling. By any indices you wish to cite, life has changed more in the last 250 years than in the previous 5000. It's astounding.
And this week the World's population will reach 7 billion. SEVEN BILLION. As in People.
To throw that mind-numbing figure into context - consider these interesting facts:
- in the year 1700 the Earth's population was 600 million
- in 1800 it was 1 billion
- in 1930 it reached 2 billion
- in 1999 - 6 billion
In other words - it took over six thousand years to reach 1 billion. But it has taken only 12 years to go from 6 billion to 7 billion. And that trend will continue.
Experts calculate the Earth's population will reach 10 billion by 2083; almost 20 years before the turn of the next century.
The question comes to mind - how many people can the world support? It's a complex discussion - but one thing is clear. But no matter how many the Earth can support, a lot of thought and planning will have to go into making sure so many people can live in a way that is acceptable.
With 1 billion people currently living without access to clean water - how do we insure that the next billion won't just be added to that group? To say nothing of eliminating this problem altogether. And that's just one factor of many.
Two-thirds of the water used on Earth today goes toward agriculture. And the lion's share of that (statistics vary) is targeted at meat production in one way or another. Cattle eat grain - and it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. And that takes a lot of water.
Seven billion is a milestone worthy of noting; both for it's absolute quantity and the speed at which we reached it. And frankly, it's a little unsettling.
It seems obvious that unless human societies begin to drastically and quickly change how we approach human organization on Earth - the tipping point at which unforeseen affects start to overwhelm the impact of conscious interventions will be reached - and soon.
And that's a little scary.