The other week I brought up the fact that we are currently at roughly 7 Billion people on Earth.  That’s a grandiose amount of folks!  Here’s a question, where do all these folks live?  Let’s look

800px-World_population

As you can see, the really high concentrations are in India and China.  India currently has 1.2B people; China has 1.3B.  India is growing faster though, somewhat due to the one child per couple policy in urban areas of China.  I always thought that was a hard and fast rule, the whole 1 kid per thing, but turns out that it only affects 35% of the Chinese population.

(as a rather large aside, I don’t really KNOW most of this stuff in general.  I know it vaguely based on hearing many things in the news and from people who have a better knowledge of it due to their upbringing or area of expertise.  But I know enough to have a directional understanding and research.  Now the fun part of the aside [<—–good song] I think we should devise a new superhero name WikiHu who derives all knowledge compounded in Wikipedia and additionally is capable of diffusing that information into others at any time, but only at one time and with one person.  So this person could be at a rally of some sort and instill “unbiased” knowledge from Wikipedia into people to give them an idea of our collective knowledge on a subject at any time, yet would still be subject to inevitable flaw and lean six sigma subordination of Wikipedia occasionally.  This idea would be like a dope mixture of Xmen with PBS specials, on a Captain Planet tip.  Whoa.  Deep right?  Don’t judge me.)

population_by_country

It’s really interesting to see such an incredibly high concentration of the population in those two countries.  But historically, that’s been the case.  Asia has always been the heart of the party they are just winning out on an early lead, evidently.

So this is not new news, it’s old news.  I don’t know about you, but seeing all that density makes me wonder why they aren’t kicking ass on an economic level too.  But quantity doesn’t mean more output.

Turns out that having all those people is a good thing in some ways and could be sited as a difficulty in other ways.  We have 312M people in the US as of now.  And due to recent struggle, we’ve had a 9% unemployment (11% a bit ago) for some time.  That’s a bit deceiving due to the fact that we have underemployment as well as many people not looking for jobs, but can you imagine if we were China and had 4x the amount of people here?  Kind of an odd thought because things have seemed so off kilter lately, but it could be much worse.

We get swept up in the ideas of right vs. left, social programs vs. the value of a society that utilizes a capital model which propels so many good things on its own volition, but put that aside for a moment.  Having people that do not have a steady income or ability to sustain themselves in some manner or another is incredibly detrimental to society.  When you ain’t got nothin’, you ain’t got nothin’ to lose.  A poor populace leads to volatility in the system itself, the likelihood of crime and revolt go up substantially.  This is why economists and politicians have to worry about unemployment and the overall “health” of the nation, or any nation for that matter.  As unemployment and numbers of people that can’t provide for themselves go up, the risk goes up.

I’m getting off point, having all these people takes a lot of resources.  Energy, food and water are the big constraints.  I’m actually not worried about energy as I feel we are well positioned to transition to different forms of energy in the next few decades that will alleviate our needs for fossil fuels.  Society seems to be very cognizant of energy needs and how we need change, I believe we will be able to handle this issue (though it will not be easy).  Food and water are a different story.  We lose roughly 1/3rd of our food due to waste, which equates to losing water due to our usage of it in the agricultural cycle.  We are incredibly wasteful of food and water.    Here’s a map of current risk across the globe for water scarcity.  The UN estimates that 1.8 billion people will face water scarcity by 2025, which is about a quarter of the people on Earth.

We have to start using water sustainably, in ways that can scale for 8 billion people and can be renewed over and over.  The US are really big offenders when it comes to waste, as are some other countries, but in my eyes the US is still the business leader (though the gap is closing) and we need to pioneer sustainable business practices.  Here’s a look at global water consumption (taken from a Treehugger article which takes it from waterfootprint.org, it’s showing cubic meters used per person, per year:

Water-Use-Graphic

We aren’t the only offenders, there are others like Spain and Italy.  That doesn’t absolve from blame here though.  The bottom line is that we are currently operating in such a way that won’t allow for future generations to prosper.  We waste food (1/3rd of all calories!) and water in our manufacturing processes and haven’t paid a lot of attention save the last decade.

Luckily, we are getting on track.  Many, many corporations are now reporting on sustainability.  Here’s a website that keeps all sustainability reports of multinational companies.  My own company is very dedicated to sustainable initiatives and is a supplier to many other companies which we attempt to help operate.  Companies today are expected to report on sustainability and it’s a very good thing, even if there’s not a lot of commonality.  The fact that businesses all operate so differently makes it difficult to report.  There are many things that have a negative environmental impact, so most companies now translate their effect into Carbon Dioxide Equivalents, which gives a common measurement to report on.  The lack of commonality is attempting to be addressed by organizations such as the Global Reporting Initiative who want everyone to report in a similar fashion for comparability.

Getting businesses on track is a big deal, but a lot of this movement is being driven by consumers (by the way, I HATE the term “consumers,” but it’s been ingrained into me over the years).  They are becoming more aware of issues on the planet and asking companies to be more sustainable.  This is also referred to as being green.  I hope that consumers continue to ask for sustainable offerings and vote with their wallets as such.  We pretty much have to, after all.  The estimates are that we’ll hit 8.1 billion people in 20 years or so, we have to start treating our resources for what they are, precious.