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black Marble


I watched a documentary last night that addressed the history of human population growth. For most of human history the earth’s population was pretty much static. People were hunters/gatherers and lived in small family groups.

Eleven or Twelve thousand years ago when people started farming, it allowed them to stay in one place. Larger groups of people began to form and were able to share ideas and become more innovative.

Human population stayed around 10 million until, and only exploded around, 250 years ago. The documentary went on to say that very specific moments in time were the beginnings of what society is today and allowed us to live in larger and larger towns and cities.

Things such as the perfection of the steam engine that birthed the industrial age, and the invention of metal letters from wooden ones that spurred huge numbers of people to learn to read and write, the first electrical grid that powered fifty-odd houses, the invention of shipping containers that led to cheaper world-wide trade allowing more people to enjoy foods from different lands and so on.

Did you know that the first telegraph from the Queen of England to the President of the United States was 99 words and took 17 1/2 hours to send?

And now with texts, emails and tweeting, the narrator said one would have to start reading them when Christ was born and we’d still be talking.

I was amazed to learn that NYC is the world’s biggest and most culturally diverse city. Did you know that over 800 languages are spoken there?

Did you know that 80% of electricity is still powered by coal? That Canada uses 2% of the world’s electricity? The USA uses 19%? Europe use 14.5%?

Did you know that 93 million barrels of oil are produced each day?

Did you know that over 350,000 babies are born, and 150,000 souls leave every day?

Did you know that 2006 was the first time in human history that more people lived in cities than on the land?

Did you know that at any given time 500 million people are on an airplane going somewhere?

The world is more interdependent and dependent upon technology than it has ever been. A sudden power loss can literally shut everything down.

It now takes roughly one acre of land to feed one American. By 2050 with a projected world population of 9 billion people, four will need to live off that acre.

With growing populations, increased mining of finite resources causing more pollution and affecting our water and air, shrinking amounts of land for agriculture, what new innovations will need to happen for the human race to survive?

I found the whole thing very amazing and very terrifying.

If you’re feeling a little more cramped lately, maybe it’s because you are.


* I’ve written this today from what I can remember. It’s entirely possible that I have a few of the facts a bit wrong, but I don’t think it takes away from fact that the human population used to take thousands of years to grow by the same percentages that only take decades now.