How Many People Can Earth Support
As of 2015 Planet Earth is home to 7 billionpeople but the population is estimated to reach up to 11 billion by 2050. That's anincrease of 4 billion people in just 35 years. But researchers warn that planet Earth cannotsustain 11 billion people. Is this true? Is there a limit to how many people can reasonablylive on planet Earth and if so what is that limit? Let's find out. In the past 50 years the human populationhas increased exponentially. It took humans 150,000 years for the population to reachone billion, in 1850. Then only 100 years later in 1950 the population hit 2.5 billion.It then took just 60 more years to reach 7
billion. Astonishingly, at the current rateof growth, the planet's population increases by one billion every 12 years. This phenomenalgrowth is mostly due to one thing, advances in medicine. The invention of Penicillin forexample. But each and every one of those seven billionpeople requires a minimum amount of food, water, light, shelter, clothing, education,medicine and other things to live an adequate standard of life. But food doesn't comefrom nowhere, it has to be farmed and farming takes space, lots and lots of space. A staggering 40% of the Earth's surfaceis now taken over by farmland. That's a
lot; when you consider that in the 1700s thatfigure was just 7%. But how much of that arable land is needed to farm enough food to sustainjust one human being. That number is 2.1 hectares. It takes 2.1 hectares of land and water toprovide for the average human being. But that's the average human and the worldis far from average. The average European uses 4.5 hectares but America leads the worldin food and water consumption. The average American uses 10 hectares of land. However the world only has 4.1 billion hectaresof arable land and the vast majority of it that can be realistically farmed, is alreadybeing farmed. There is very little left to
go around. Based on the worldwide averageof 2.1 hectares for each person we currently need 1.5 Earths to sustain the current populationof 7 billion. And that's based on the average level of consumption. If the whole world,all seven billion people, lived at a European standard, we would need 3.4 Earths to sustaineveryone. If however, the entire world's population consumed the average American quantityof food and water, we would need 5 Earths. So it's fair to say, that we're well beyondcapacity, which partially explains why over one billion people worldwide don't haveaccess to regular food or clean water. It's not the only reason, but a considerable factor.So how many people can the Earth sustain?
Well, about onethird less than it currentlyis. The unfortunate truth is that for developed countries to live the way they currently do,the global consumption of food has to be unbalanced. Sadly, a vast portion of the population hasto starve for the rest of the world to gorge themselves on a daily basis, because therequite simply isn't enough food and water to go around. If you think that's bad, it's nothingcompared to the problems we would face if the population doubled from what it is now.Currently onethird of all the food produced in the world on a daily basis is wasted. Itgets lost or thrown away. It is estimated
that if we could be totally efficient anddon't waste any food, operating at maximum capacity, the Earth could support up to 10billion people. But there's a catch, to feed 10 billion people, not only would wehave to stop wasting food but the entire world would need to go vegetarian. Farming livestockis a horrendously inefficient way to produce food. You have to grow crops to feed to thelivestock. A significant portion of the crops produced today aren't for feeding humans,they're for feeding animals that will end up on our dinner plates. So to feed 10 billion people this inefficientmethod of food production would have to completely