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Defusing Africa's Population Bomb: There's No Need to Fear Nigerian Babies

Debunking the latest batch of population hysteria—this time, sub-Saharan Africa's big families have Chicken Littles losing their cool.


The front page of yesterday’s New York Times informed readers that “in a quarter-century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people—a population about as big as that of the present-day United States—will live in a country the size of Arizona and New Mexico.” The capital alone houses 21 million people and has all the accompanying strains—ungodly traffic, potential for political unrest, upward pressure on food prices, insufficient hospital capacities—which the article uses as an example of how a “population bomb” will hurt sub-Saharan Africa.

The article implies Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries must figure out how to engineer a decline in family size and birth rates before achieving economic progress—in this account, people start having two kids instead of 12 and can invest much more time and money and education in each child.

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The Planet Will House 10 Billion People, and We Can Feed Them All

Our population is going to grow by 3 billion people in the next century. But if we play our cards right, none of them will go hungry.


Within the next century, the world's population will likely swell to 9 or 10 billion. And according to new research, we can feed them all if we make some radical changes in the way we grow our food.

As the world's population approaches 7 billion, 1 billion of those people continue to go hungry. It's a huge problem around the word—from the deadly famine in Somalia to the dismal hunger statistics here in the United States. Meanwhile, annual increases in agricultural yields have begun to slow down, and our methods of cultivating crops continue to degrade land, water, biodiversity, and climate. It's not hard to imagine a dystopian future where huge chunks of the population will suffer from chronic hunger while our natural resources are depleted.

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Mapping the World's Population by Latitude, Longitude

Beautiful depictions of population density around the world.

These attractive infographics by Harvard Ph.D. Bill Rankin depict the distribution of the world's population based on longitude and latitude. Groundbreaking? No, but they are beautiful depictions of population density around the world. They're from 2008 (with 2000 Census data), so here's to hoping for a new iteration with this year's data.

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