Still curious? Read more: Population and environment: a global challenge
Welcome to the Anthropocene (the proposed name for the epoch in Earth's history dominated by human activity).
Our activities disrupt other species and change our climate, and we are using resources faster than Earth can replenish them.
- Current human population: 7.3 billion
- Growing by 74 million each year
- Predicted to hit 9.2 billion by 2050
- Other species are becoming extinct at 100 to 1000 times the natural rate.
We've grown exponentially
The human carrying capacity of Earth is debated, but at least 20 studies put our planet's upper limit at or below 8 billion.
Graph: The human population was 425 million in the year 1500, then started growing exponentially in the lead up to the year 2000, when our population hit 6 billion. Today, the human population is 7.3 billion.
We're living longer lives
The average global life expectancy at birth was 29 in 1770, 70 in 2012, and the oldest recorded human lived to 122 years old.
Longer lifespans are great for individuals and families, but more generations living simultaneously means extra people consuming resources and producing waste.
We're consuming our planet
"Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and 6 months to regenerate what we use in a year." —Global Footprint Network
If everyone in the world lived like Australians currently do, we'd need 3.6 Earths to sustain us.
What we can do
- Consume less, waste less: buy fewer physical goods, consume less electricity, and purchase fewer items with packaging and waste. This is the biggest action you can take as a consumer.
- Innovate with technology: switch to clean energy and get on board with innovative technologies for greater global good. This may potentially include the use of responsible, genetically modified foods.
- Improve education: knowledge is empowering. Improved education will not only reduce unsustainable population growth, but bring long-term benefits to every country around the world.