Saturday, October 17, 2009

how few people there really are.

When pondering about things such as the *gasp!* swine flu coming through and killing off a significant chunk of the world's population, it is quite natural to think about the number of people that are out there... roughly 6.79 billion. Which does, on the face of things, seem like a ton of people (or rather, about 525 million tons, if each person weighs much more than of 150 lbs.) ;)

Certainly, there are scores of movies, books, and commentators that say present levels of population growth are unsustainable. The say that we are going to run out of food, water, and space. Frankly, these statements are rather... well- they don't make much sense to me...

Something that I have noticed in my recent travels, is how much land there is out there. Quite literally, when you fly to/from Chicago, Denver, Charlotte, or New York, things look pretty dense; for about 5 minutes. After this minimal amount of time, you will then see a vast wasteland of trees, fields, and a few scattered roads. There is a ton of land that doesn't appear to be utilized, for whatever reason (e.g. lack of resources, zoning laws, greenbelts, or lack of people). In my home state of Kentucky, for example, there is a TON of unexploited land that would be perfect for farming.

As another example, roughly 2/5 of the lot that my home sits on is truely utilized by people (that includes the underground utilities); the rest of it, is simply there to annoy me by forcing me spend time, money, and effort on keeping the yard from living up to it's full potential via primary succession.

To further put this in perspective: given that Texas has 261,797 sq. miles of land (water is not counted), you could fit all of the world's ~6.79 billion people into the state, and they would EACH have just a hair under 1075 sq. feet of space (really, it is pretty simple arithmetic). Roughly, this means that there would be about 25,935 people every square mile and just over 10,000 for every square kilometer.

Frankly, this wouldn't be all that bad. After all, I presently reside in a dwelling where I have much less than 1000 sq feet of my own, personal, living space. Despite living in an area where we have super affordable housing and larger than normal yards, in the case of virtually every person that I know, few have 1000 ft of property per person, let alone living space! There just isn't a need for it.

In fact, if you look here, you would see that Tehran has a population density that is about as bad as the UN of Texas would potentially be. If Texas would then be considered a city, by comparison to the others on the list, it would be the 20th most dense city in the world.

Certainly, while this calculation doesn't give any credence to the needs of people to generate electricity, grow food, or even get water, I think that we will be able to figure out what to do. I am sure that we will figure out a way to utilize all the remaining resources in the world and survive as a species...

Off to the Value Investor's Congress I go. :)

1 comment:

Sivaram Velauthapillai said...

One of the major advantages America has over other countries is its land and resources. This is going to be a huge benefit to America in the long run. No one talks about it but, for instance, America's population can keep growing for the next few hundread years with little negative impact. In contrast, countries like China, India, Japan, Britain, most of Europe, and so on, will hit a limit.

I live in Canada and there is even more land here but you guys have more mild, diverse, climate. My guess is that you have more arable and livable land (most of Canada is too cold most of the time.)

In the long run, America has some wild cards up its sleeves. Very few realize it right now...