Welcome to the planet, number 8 billion!

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Welcome to the planet, number 8 billion!

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Oh no — the world now has 8 billion people devouring its natural resources!

Ten years ago there were only 7 billion people. The planet is being overrun! We can’t feed all those new mouths! We’re doomed!

GLOBAL POPULATION SURPASSES EIGHT BILLION FOR FIRST TIME

Not so fast. A straightforward calculation puts an apparent disaster into perspective.

What if all 8 billion people were invited to one location on the globe for a “population conference?” At this conference, suppose we gave each person their own individual 20 feet by 20 feet square space in which to celebrate and enjoy all 8 billion inhabitants of Planet Earth. With each person occupying his own 400 square feet (a nice-sized room), how much total area would be required to comfortably accommodate the world’s population?

A bit of simple math shows that an area the size of New Mexico would be quite sufficient.

But what about feeding and sustaining all those people? Well, there has been enough food to keep up with the entire global population for at least the last 100 years, along with an abundance of raw material and energy resources. So why are so many starving to death and a billion eke out a living without reliable electricity?

The obstructions to comfortable living for everyone likely stem from interrelated factors ranging from excess population density in topographically and climatologically unfavorable areas to personal decisions to be wasteful and harmful to the planet and fellow inhabitants.

Topping the list of what keeps people in misery may very well be a ruling class at odds with the needs of the populace it supposedly serves. In addition to tyrants who purposely neglect disfavored portions of their populations, there are elite politicians with little interest in alleviating privation. Ineffective programs such as the long-running “war on poverty” become just empty slogans in their hands. Politics frequently trumps everything and compassion goes by the wayside. The poor are confined to perpetual misery.

In 1968, Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich predicted in his book The Population Bomb that the world population was unsustainable at its present growth rate. The population in the late ‘60s was about 3.6 billion people. Dr. Ehrlich expected the ever-increasing number of people would lead to the collapse of economic and social systems within a decade or two.

Thankfully, worldwide collapse has been averted because of technological improvements, energy exploration and production, and revolutions in agriculture. In fact, dire global poverty has been significantly reduced since Ehrlich’s prediction. This success can continue if world leaders look at their constituents not as the great unwashed, but rather as precious souls worthy of dignity, respect, and compassion.

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The goal should be to raise everyone’s standard of complete, comfortable living through the wise use of the resources readily available to all. As the old saying goes, “a rising tide raises all ships.”

This can be achieved not only in the U.S. but worldwide. All 8 billion people are worthy of dignity, respect, and compassion in the form of good nutrition and clean, reliable, abundant, and cheap energy.

Anthony J. Sadar is an adjunct associate professor at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA, and coauthor of Environmental Risk Communication: Principles and Practices for Industry (CRC Press, 2021).

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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