Eight billion people live on Earth. Giving them a good future is the task of smart democratic politics.
In 1972, when Willie Brandt was chancellor, there were 3.8 billion people on Earth. At the time, the Club of Rome warned of the limits of growth, and bleak scenarios were painted on the wall.
Today, twice as many people live in our world as 50 years ago. Growth doesn’t seem to know any limits yet, and as in 1972, there are bleak prospects in many places.
You can’t be controlled by force
If you give all eight billion people one square meter of space and put them side by side, they can easily exceed the area of the Ruhr and the Lower Rhine (8000 sq km). No need for more. So there was an insane amount of space everywhere: all of Asia, Africa, America, Oceania would be deserted.
Of course, this calculation is hypothetical, but it shows that the term overpopulation is completely misplaced. And it’s morally wrong, moreover: state-imposed birth control in China, for example, is dramatically aging the giant country. You cannot control by compulsion.
Smart and forward-thinking governments
Of course, the eight and soon the nine billion people will need to eat, drink, live well, drive a car or bus, use their cell phones, go to school, find love, and get a job. And yes, it will affect the environment and climate with its presence.
Whether all of this works well or badly depends on smart, forward-looking governments, and therefore on us as well: everyone can contribute to ensuring that notions of democracy, freedom and peace are not crushed, but rather live. This also includes climate protection. Thus, the best means against the uncontrolled development of our planet is education, gender equality and just democratic coexistence. So ten billion isn’t a problem, but it’s a good future.
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