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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Tipping point: Technological Revolution 1800-2100 (4)

While I was reading an interesting Scientific American blog on the probability of life in the cosmos, and thinking about our ever shrinking chances following a light-speed expanding universe (video), and the mysterious Denisovan people, it suddenly hit me. Compared to the disappearance of several types of humans (eg, Denisovan, Flores, Neanderthal), the remaining human population has exploded in size, almost like the Universe did 14 billion years ago.

For millions of years, the human population growth rate was quite flat, most likely due to "simple" reasons as food, health, violence and wars. Hence, average human life expectancy was low (ca. 20-30 years) and birth rates were high (> 8), partly to compensate for the first.

Even in the late 1800s, the average maximum life expectancy at birth was just 40. Since the 1900s it has doubled. (Source: Rick Sznajder of the Toronto Star). Average fertility gradually dropped from >8 to less than 2 now. A huge +75% drop which will take many years to show in the population statistics.

From 1300-1400, there was a small dip in the worldwide human population due to the impact of the global disease called the Black Death or the Plague. This disease even caused a fundamental change in regional and worldwide SuperPowers.

The overall result is this graph which shows the human population from 1750 until 2100 (source). In 2100, we expect nearly 11 billion people.

This projection is however based on a 95% drop of the expected average annual global growth rate: from 1,2% now to 0.06% in 2100.

In my view, there is already a bottoming out of the annual average growth rate in 2010 but this graph only shows that effect after 2050. This prediction may thus be (too) optimistic.

In my view, this graph also represents a mind-blowing correlation between humans and technology since 1800 (eg, food, housing, medicine). Also see my blogs on the Technological Revolution 1800-2100: parts 1, 2, and 3. There seems to be no natural enemy to humans anymore apart from the natural limitations of our planet's resources. 

As already noted in my 21 July 2015 and 25 August 2015 blogs, humans seem destined to become the future grasshoppers of the Universe.

JJ Cale - Grasshopper (1982 album) - artist, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

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