Okay, this is fun. The population of the world is over 7 billion people. A huge number. My seventh grade math teacher demonstrated how big a billion is by telling us that not a single one of us would ever count to a billion. She then promptly gave us the opportunity to try, and for the last ten minutes of class, we all sat there counting silently. When the bell rang, she said we could continue counting if we liked, but it would take us 30 years to reach a billion.

Consider this. Fifty thousand years ago, during the Great Leap Forward when “modern” Homo sapiens began creating language, there were less than half a million people on earth (million with an “m”). That seems like a long time ago, but some say human history began as many as seven million years ago. Others say it began when man started walking upright, which was around four million years ago. For the sake of argument, let’s go with four million years.

If man is four million years old, then the last 50,000 years since the Great Leap Forward represent 1.25% of the age of humankind. And given the population has grown from only half a million people 50,000 years ago to over 7 billion people today, then that means in the last 1.25% of the time of humans, the population has increased 14 million percent. An unfathomable number.

Will population growth bring into question our very survival? How will we choose to run society? Will consumption rates of developed areas of the world be restricted to accommodate populations in undeveloped areas? If Gandhi was still alive, could he still say “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed”? What are the ethical issues surrounding our choices?

Thoughts? Comment below.