© Eric R. Pianka
"Land, they aren't making any more of it" -- Will Rogers
Let's do the math again, but this time for the entire planet. The total land surface area of Earth is about 57,308,738 square miles, of which about 33% is desert and about 24% is mountainous. Subtracting this uninhabitable 57% (32,665,981 mi2) from the total land area leaves 24,642,757 square miles or 15.77 billion acres of habitable land.
Divide this figure by the current human population of 7.2 billion (that's 7,200 million people) and you get 2.3 acres (just under one hectare) per person. If all the habitable land on Earth were equally distributed among all human beings present on the planet, this is the per capita share of good land per person. Again, however, we have not allowed for any amenities such as highways, schools, hospitals, shopping malls, stadiums, agricultural fields, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, parks, golf courses, etc. Even so, could you live on 2.3 acres?
Efforts have been made to estimate the amount of land needed to sustain an average individual human (link). A person living the lifestyle of an average American requires almost 24 acres, ten times the world per capita share. Another way of saying this is that Americans represent only 4.5% of the world's population but consume 40 per cent of all available resources annually. Some extremists consider bringing a new person on to the planet tantamount to murdering people in the future and argue that an American baby kills ten times as many future people because of their huge footprint.
Ironically, as sea levels continue to rise due to global warming and ice melting, coastal areas are inundated, leaving less land available at the same time more people require a place o live. Tiny low lying island nations like Kiriboti will soon disappear and their people will have to be absorbed by other countries.
Bottom Line: For everyone presently on this planet to enjoy the lifestyle of an average American, we would need about ten planet Earths. We have only one. For everyone to live like an American, Earth can only support about one-tenth as many people. To increase the average quality of life, the number of people on Earth must be reduced.
Let's Concentrate the World Population
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Last updated 12 September 2014 by Eric R. Pianka