There is no real “ideal size” without some metric of what you are looking for. If you are looking for the most environmentally friendly human population size, I’m afraid to say it would be zero. Humans are enormously destructive to the environment on many many levels, and nearly all natural ecosystems would be much better off without us. (For a good read on what would happen if humans were to die out, try The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman.) It’s pretty clear that the population is already too large to live truly sustainably, especially with the vast differences between the rich and the poor.
Well, before modern science and the Industrial Revolution, the human population did not exceed one billion people. Then, we began really abusing resources and non-renewable energy. It seems the population stayed below 1 billion because the Earth couldn’t sustainably support more than that many humans. To answer your question, I’d say around a billion people. This information came partly from the documentary The 11th Hour and partly from here.
Arguably, the “ideal” population would be lower than what we are currently experiencing.
Right now there are roughly 7 billion people that populate the planet. By some estimates it takes about 2 hectares (10,000 square meters) to sustain one human for one year. That figure includes both water and food.
2 hectares equals approximately 5 acres of area that one human needs to live for one year. It is said that American lifestyles average to about 10 hectares per human per year. This means that if every human on the planet were living to the standard of America, we would need another 4 Earths.
While there is a lot more we can do to diversify our farm land, and have multicrop farms, something that would significantly increase food tonnage produced per acre; there is only so much water in the world. We are essentially in a “fixed” water system — we will always have a certain amount, and so water is a very deciding factor when considering how many people the planet can realistically sustain.
By some reports, 2 to 3 billion people is considered a modest number to aim for. Some optimists say that with the right technology the Earth could potentially sustain 1,000 billion people. Other researchers declare that 11 billion is the maximum amount. Still others believe that any number more than 1 billion is degrading.
Please note that in the 1960s the world population was about 3 billion! We have more than doubled that number in just 50 years! It is very important to educate people on the consequences of overpopulation. Almost every single dilemma that humans face can be traced to overpopulation: starvation, lack of fresh water, lack of resources, poverty, road rage, decline in rainforest, increase in Co2 emissions, et cetera, the list goes on.
Even if the Earth itself could support more people, our existing infrastructure cannot. Think about your commute to work and how much traffic is on the road. Think about all of the lines you stand in during any given week. Our roadways, business buildings, entertainment venues, parks, and all public places become extremely congested by adding more people into the mix.
Please, consider these ideas and what I have said.
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