Earth’s Population Approaching 7 Billion, Can The Planet Sustain Humanity?

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The world population is about to hit 7 billion people. That’s significantly less than what Antoni van Leeuwenhoek predicted back in the 17th century when he estimated there were about 13.4 billion people on Earth. A number we now believe was closer to half a billion at the time.

Human population is always going up, although some events like the Black Plague have lead to minor declines, and that rate has increased exponentially in the decades since Leeuwenhoek first contemplated the number of people milling about on the planet. In the early 1900’s we reached 2 billion, and less than a century later we’re hitting 7 billion. That means for the first time ever there are humans who have lived through not just a doubling of human population, but some even witness a tripling.

National Geographic has an in-depth look at what the population explosion means to the planet. The year long study on human population includes a detailed analysis of the history of human accounting, and a look at how the planet may or may not be able to handle the 9.1 billion that’s expected to exist by 2045.