How Many People Can the Earth Support 2024

With the recent pandemic resulting in so many deaths, it brings to light the many pandemics that have occurred in history. Interestingly enough, each and every one of these pandemics followed a massive boom in population growth on the Earth. As one pandemic took out a large part of the population, the problems with disease around the globe fell.

So, it begs the question: How many people can the Earth support and what is its carrying capacity? Perhaps the even bigger question might be whether or not a pandemic is nature's way of decreasing a global population that can't be supported by this planet. Let's take a closer look at how these events are affected by population and just how many people the Earth can actually support in the most healthy of ways.

The Current Global Population

According to World Population Review's population check, there are approximately 7.8 billion people in the world today. Even with a pandemic's sweeping effects, more babies are born every minute than people passing away. As such, the current worldwide spread of a single disease is not enough to decrease the population in any truly significant or noticeable way, unlike the Black Plague which decreased the global population significantly.

This says a lot about how fast the current living adults are reproducing around the world. Their offspring offsets the number of people dying every day. Despite the very sad and disheartening events of the present moment, it is safe to say that deaths are not making any gains on the new lives. Once life returns to a mostly normal pace, the number of babies born will again spring ahead. It is expected that in twenty-five years the Earth will be at a point where it can no longer sustain one more life.

The Earth Is Almost at Full Capacity

LiveScience reports that the Earth's total capacity is around nine or ten billion people. After that, there will not be enough resources to fully sustain every living person on this planet. That's a pretty significant scientific statement to make, but one which has been researched many times from computer and mathematical models. A mathematician from 200 years ago by the name of Malthus concluded that exceeding this number of people would result in a mass famine on a global scale.

What's particularly disturbing is that the Earth is already nearing this capacity. As previously mentioned, the capacity is nearing eight billion. Another billion or two billion and the Earth will not have the resources necessary to support all life. Sadly, there are no real solutions to this issue just yet, either. Population control without the permission of individual people involved is unethical, even though some countries do enforce controlled population laws and measures.

Another source, The Australian Academy of Science, cites several notable studies that examined the carrying capacity of Earth. The wide swinging arch of opinion and scientific results speaks to the frustration in predicting an accurate population number for the survival of the human race. Still, it's a valuable look at how this very subject has been examined for decades, even centuries.

An article by the BBC news took its own look at global population. It examined all the factors scientists and mathematicians have to take into account when trying to figure out if people will survive to the year 2100 and beyond without overcrowding. Scrutinizing major factors such as how much CO2 each human contributes to air quality or how much food people consume or waste are often at the heart of why it's so difficult to make an educated guess about human survival and whether or not the Earth can support everyone.

Periods of Population Growth in History, and Periods of Population Decline

There have been several periods throughout recorded human history where the population boomed. A Pre-agricultural period from 10,000 years ago was the first recorded period of population growth. As people became settled into farming and agricultural roles, population boomed again because there was plenty of food for everyone. The industrial period dating back a thousand years ago to the present is another boom, although individual mini-booms occurred along the way. Advances in technology almost always result in the growth of the world's population.

More readily visible booms in population and examples of these booms include the doubling of the European population between 1000 and 1300 A.D., Post-WWII baby booms, and the invention of vaccines in the mid-1800's. In each case, advances in medicine and/or technology were listed as causes, and men returning from war to unite with their wives and girlfriends was another cause. Not surprisingly, there are incidents either preceding or following these population booms that quickly decreased the population.

For example, the Black Plague ushered in a period of population decline in the mid-1300's, immediately after Europe had just doubled its population. The declination almost wiped out the rise in population from the previous century. The Spanish Flu was responsible for millions of deaths worldwide, just at the end of WWI and preceding WWII. The Third Bubonic Plague arose in China just before 1850, resulting in a push for vaccines to treat it and other diseases. Once 12 million people died from this plague and millions more were saved, people began to have babies again, pushing the population upward once more.

Surprising Counter-Arguments for the Future Capacity of This Planet

Despite the "doom and gloom" predictions of past scientists and mathematicians, technology has advanced well beyond the expectations of these earlier "prophets." The Earth could technically supply enough food for two Earths and end existing famine right now. The biggest stumbling block is the billions of pounds of food wasted every year that could otherwise be used to feed others. As for land for farming and raising animals for food and growing crops, there are significant areas for growing food and lots of new ways food can be grown without expanding into natural habitats.

Drawing Conclusions

So, can the Earth survive another population boom that doubles the population and impacts the carrying capacity? According to scientists and mathematicians, no, it can't. Do plagues and pandemics play a major role in population declination? It seems so, and despite the fact that humans would rather not see these events take place, history is riddled with population booms interspersed with widespread lethal diseases. Does it mean that nature is attempting to control the global population this way? No one knows that for sure.

What we do know is that the more people there are, the faster disease can spread because the greater number of people are packed in like sardines. It is why the biggest cities in the world have such record numbers of deaths in history when there is an epidemic or pandemic. There are too many people in one "small" area. If you look at it another way, imagine how an overcrowded Earth would become an instant travesty with another disease sweeping the globe. It would spread farther and faster with nowhere for the extra people to go.

Some scientists are trying to figure out how to move out into space and inhabit other planets like Mars. It would not be easy, nor as comfortable as the life on Earth. Yet, it is a solution to a constantly growing population problem. In the next thirty to fifty years, there has to be a solution or this Earth will be too crowded to support all human life.

How Many People Can the Earth Support 2024