7 Billion and Counting

Population is a complicated topic. There will soon be seven billion people on the planet. By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain? With the worldwide population slated to top 7 billion in 2011, National Geographic magazine  kicked off a year-long series of articles related to humanity’s remarkable growth spurt, with the first story focusing on the consequences of hitting 7 billion humans later this year and the basics of demography.

  1. Are there too many people on the planet?
  2. Are we in the “age of man?”
  3. Whathappens when our oceans become acidic?
  4. How will we cope with changing climate?
  5. Can we feed seven billion of us?
  6. Whatinfluences women to have fewer children?
  7. Is there enough for everyone?
  8. Are cities the cure for our growing pains?

Here is a video introduction to the series:
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Read all the articles on NationalGeographic.com.

Kotkin on America in 2050

On May 18, 2010, geographer Joel Kotkin was interviewed on the Charlie Rose Show, discussing his new book The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 (The Penguin Press). This book envisions what America will look like 40 years from now when America grows in population from 300-million to 400-million.

Written from a geographer’s perspective (Charlie Rose’ first question is, “What does a geographer do?”), Kotkin takes an optimistic look forward based on the strengths of the American ideal and practical nature of the “millennials” (the generation born between 1983-2003, larger than the baby-boomers). Regarding trouble-spots, Kotkin stated that issues surrounding class (e.g., a growing gap between income and education levels) will be our most prominent challenges in the coming decade. Particularly Kotkin notes, we’re doing a bad job of preparing the 50-70% of kids who don’t go to college for skilled professions (i.e., vocational training) that produce good paying jobs on which you can raise a family. Kotkin asserts, “Basically we’re telling our kids, you either become a lawyer or a brain surgeon, you work at Target, or you deal drugs.” His book takes the perspective that there are other paths for us to focus on to narrow that gap and increase productivity. His overall perspective is positive and speaks of optimism and faith.

Joel Kotkin is a scholar on urban development, currently a fellow at Chapman University in Orange, CA and the Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank. A highly respected speaker and futurist, he consults for many leading economic development organizations, private companies, regions and cities. (thanks to S. Frost for this link)