Today, about 7.4 billion people call earth their home. By 2050, population is projected to reach 9.7 billion. For 2100, the projection is 11.2 billion by 2100 (UN DESA, 2015a, p.3).
In 2016, the number of people is growing by about 80 million people per year, 200,000 per day, 9,000 per hour, 150 per minute and 2.5 every second. To visualize the accelerating growith in the past two thousand years—and into the decades ahead—take five minutes to watch this video.
World Population & Environment: 1 C.E. - 2050
Growth in human population growth is mainly a product of declining mortality from improvements in food production, medication and sanitation, and energy sources.
Populations were nearly stagnant until the end of the Stone Age and the dawn of agriculture. By 8,000 BC, communities had the means to sustain larger families and their populations expanded. The only growth blip since then happened in the 14th Century when the Black Death devastated populations in European countries. By the start of the Industrial Revolution, new technologies and cheap fossil-fuel energy spurred an unprecedented boom in population growth.
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The month I was born, atmospheric CO2 was 317.70 parts per million (ppm). Throughout my life, increases in the earth's background CO2 level has averaged 1.5 ppm per year. Sadly, it has yet to decline from any one year to the next.
Today, atmospheric CO2 is at the advanced stages of crossing the 400 ppm threshold in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Southern Hemisphere is not far behind.
My focus on atmospheric CO2 began in 2007. It was then when I realized that these big, planetary numbers tell us whether humanity is making big global environmental problems bettter or worse. There was no need for me to wait anymore for the conclusions of experts or scientific reports to know what is going on. Last month's numbers from Mauna Loa gave me a direct way to gauge the direction and speed of changes to the earth system as they happen.
These and other vital signs like global temperature gave me a more precise, quantified way to sense changes in health of our home planet. I felt compelled to make them more easily accessible to anyone who is interested—to non-experts like me.
Since 1992, I have worked for the provincial government in British Columbia. Since 2000, I have done policy and communications work for a transportation licensing tribunal. I am also a Master's Candidate working toward a degree in environmental education and communication at Royal Roads University. My CO2.Earth activities are part-time, volunteer and independent of my employer, university, scientific institutions and any other group or organization.
This is the short story behind ay launch of themosimportantnumber.org in 2007, CO2Now.org in 2008, and CO2.Earth in 2015. This new website takes a few giant steps forward. In particular, it brings together a few big planetary numbers in a context that makes them easier to find, understand and use.
The site is a kind of experiment. The idea is to offer a way to directly track 'planetary change signals' for themselves and learn what they mean in the process. And for those who are interested, it goes a step beyond by pointing toward the planetary conditions that we will need to create if we are to stabilize big chalenges like warming temperatures, rising greenhouse gas levels, acidifying oceans, and changing climates.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada