There are currently over 7 billion humans inhabiting the Earth and that value is increasing exponentially. So that has a lot of people wondering: How many people can the Earth even hold? It’s estimated that, by the end of the century, the human population will be over 10 billion. And scientists are unsure whether this will be sustainable or not. To see why, let’s start off by talking about my favorite subject: food. If you were to take all the land being used to raise livestock and put it on one continent, it would take up all of Africa.
In fact, it would actually be greater than Africa, between 8 and 9 billion acres. And if we did the same thing for crop production, it would take up an area about the size of South America. But, after a while, the soil in these areas will degrade, meaning its fertility decreases and it erodes, rendering it useless for growing crops. And not only that, but scientists are unsure if farmers could even maintain their current crop yields due to changes in the environment. See, the global average of carbon dioxide emissions per person is about 5 metric tons per year.
But for Americans, that average is closer to 17 metric tons per year. And remember, this is per person. So, if we have about 3 billion more people living on this planet, and they all adopt a lifestyle similar to an American, the effects of global warming will be worsened even more. In fact, it’s projected that the temperature of the Earth will increase by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century. And with that increase comes more extreme weather conditions which would inevitably disrupt food production. So yeah, not good.
Now, this can be partly remedied by everyone adopting a vegetarian diet, and reclaiming the land to grow more crops instead of raising livestock. But the crops won’t be able to feed an infinite number of people. In fact, some scientists predict that it would only be enough to feed 10 billion people. And more than likely, most people won’t switch to a vegetarian diet. After all, bacon is a beautiful thing that exists. But what about the amount of available water? Humans are currently using about 30% of the Earth’s accessible renewable water supply, with the rest being used for agriculture.
And the water available to some people in countries like: Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Haiti isn’t even clean enough to drink. So, the amount reaching humans would have to increase with an increasing population. So, to answer the original question: the Earth may be able to hold a large number of people, perhaps even over 10 billion. But the quality of those people’s lives would be much different than they are now. So how many humans do you think the Earth can hold? Or do you think we’re already there? Let me know in the comment section below.