Head Count

On Oct. 31, the 7 billionth person is projected to be born. What do our growing numbers mean for our future?

Since modern homo sapiens first appeared around 50,000 B.C., an estimated total of 108 billion people have lived on earth--which means that about 6.5% of all humans ever born are alive today. That's a lot of bodies to feed, clothe and shelter, and economists, demographers, scientists and politicians have long fretted over our world's ability to sustain humanity as it multiplies.

The good news, as we approach the 7 billion mark, is that we likely have the resources to sustain a population of that size. The bad news is that those resources aren't always where the people are. Populations are booming...

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