The optimum human population of Earth—the number that would guarantee everyone access to the necessities of a decent life, according to Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich—is 1.5 to 2 billion people. Seven billion inhabit the planet now and 2 billion more will be added by 2050.
Those numbers call for a radical reduction of the population and a redistribution of resources, Ehrlich argues. Otherwise, billions more hungry people will crowd a planet increasingly prone to cataclysmic disasters, including viruses and nuclear war. —ARK
Paul Ehrlich in The Guardian:
“How many you support depends on lifestyles. We came up with 1.5 to 2 billion because you can have big active cities and wilderness. If you want a battery chicken world where everyone has minimum space and food and everyone is kept just about alive you might be able to support in the long term about 4 or 5 billion people. But you already have 7 billion. So we have to humanely and as rapidly as possible move to population shrinkage.”
“The question is: can you go over the top without a disaster, like a worldwide plague or a nuclear war between India and Pakistan? If we go on at the pace we are there’s going to be various forms of disaster. Some maybe slow motion disasters like people getting more and more hungry, or catastrophic disasters because the more people you have the greater the chance of some weird virus transferring from animal to human populations, there could be a vast die-off.”