World population and its appetite

Astonishing: When I was born we were 4.8 billion strong, and 55% of the land was classified as ‘wilderness’. Today we are about 7.8 billion, and less than 35% of the planet is wilderness. Relatedly, this is what the composition of mammals on earth looks like (curiously displayed by weight thanks to xkcd):

We far outnumber our wild mammal cousins, and a huge weight of mammals is taken up by our lovely big beautiful bovine friends, almost exclusively kept for meat or milk. So what does it take to feed the humans of this world? lets have a look at this graphic of the environmental impacts of agriculture:

As you can see producing our food is a massive pull on the global resources, and there is therefore a strong motivation to make radical changes in this sector. Food production is something we definitely cannot divest from but we can change the way we do it!

You can explore more population and agriculture data from Our World in Data here:

Go on! Click on those links and have a look at these datasets and figure out how you can tweak your own eating and food buying habits to make a contribution. You can also try growing your own as much as your space or setting allows!


About lindsey

Environmental scientist. I am glaciologist specialising in glacier-climate interactions to better understand the climate system. The point of this is to understand how glaciated envionments might change in the future - how the glaciers will respond and what the impact on associated water resources and hazard potential will be.
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