2011: The Year We Hit 7 Billion…Are we ready?

Coming soon to a planet near you: 7 Billion...and counting

Sometime during 2011, human numbers will add up to 7 billion.

That is 7,000,000,000 living and breathing people — all of who will need to be fed, clothed, sheltered and cared for in many other ways.

During this year, National Geographic magazine will publish a 7-part series examining specific challenges and solutions to the issues we face. The magazine introduces the series with its January cover story “7 Billion,” offering a broad overview of demographic trends that got us to today and will impact us all tomorrow. The first in-depth story will appear in the March issue, focusing on humans’ impact on the planet’s geology. Other stories will follow throughout 2011.

This clever video accompanies the coverage:

Correction added by NatGeo editors: in 2050, 70% of the population will be living in “urban areas,” not “megacities” as stated in an earlier version of this video.

A world party of 7 Billion?
In another short video on National Geographic website, Nigel Holmes imagines how much space we would need to host a world party for 7 billion people in 2011.

I don’t like the word population: it sounds cold, clinical and detached. Zoologists can talk about ant populations or elephant populations, but when demographers (and others, including journalists) refer to our the counting of species as human population, I somehow feel it’s too impersonal. Aren’t we more than mere numbers?

So in my own writing and TV scripts, I use the phrase human numbers.

Can you visualise 7 billion?

Semantics apart, our rising numbers are indeed a cause for concern. We didn’t quite see the ‘population bomb’ go off the way we were warned about – thank the secular Force – but we still face formidable challenges.

In 1987 — the year I entered journalism — human numbers passed five billion. A dozen years later, in 1999, the six billion was reached. By then, I too had added my contribution of one co-produced human being. Soon in 2011, we will be seven billion.

Our planet’s natural systems are over-stretched not only by our sheer numbers, but also by our technologies and consumption. The many signs of planetary stress include accelerated loss of species, fast spreading deserts, and declining air and water quality. To cap it all, scientists now confirm that human activity is changing our climate.

On the New York Times Dot Earth blog, science writer Andrew C. Revkin regularly examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits.

Moving Images Blog: 2010 numbers summary from WordPress

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 9 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 91 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 575 posts. There were 284 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 22mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 22nd with 1,089 views. The most popular post that day was Communicating Disasters: Lessons From Titanic to Asian Tsunami by Arthur C Clarke.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were dragtotop.com, mahalo.com, en.wordpress.com, search.conduit.com, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for titanic, nelson mandela, girl video, strange creatures, and pay it forward.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Communicating Disasters: Lessons From Titanic to Asian Tsunami by Arthur C Clarke December 2007


Obama Girl: Can this little video change history? November 2008


Asian Tsunami of December 2004: A moving moment frozen in time December 2007


Why do we still go to the movies in the 21st Century? January 2010


Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009): Mixed celebrity, entertainment and good causes June 2009

New Year 2011 is here: The Future isn’t what it used to be!

2011 is here! We’re not ones to be easily affected by a mere landmark in our particular system of chronology, but as watchers of popular culture, we go along with the mood of the moment — if only to blend in with the planet’s natives…

As for our own mind (which is large and contains multitudes), Bill Watterson – the inimitable creator of Calvin and Hobbes – has once again captured my thoughts so well…and so colourfully.

The future isn't what it used to be!

As for resolutions, the only one I have is that I get to write more, and get read more widely. What more can a wordsmith ask for?

Besides, I tend to agree with Calvin when he says here…

Change? Why change?