Dear Group,

Demography: (from prefix demo- from Ancient Greek δῆμος dēmos meaning “the people”, and -graphy from γράφω graphō, implies “writing, description or measurement”[1]) is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings. …Demography encompasses the study of the size, structure, and distribution of these populations, and spatial or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration, aging, and death.” [From Wikipedia

I consider our world, the ecosystem in which we live, to be finite. Finiteness is a bedrock concept, a concept shared by most people with any background in biological science. Our ecosystem is limited and intimately interconnected. That we are part of and dependent on that ecosystem is fundamental, a fact that runs counter to our tendency to think of ourselves as exceptional. The world can support only a limited population of any organism before the biological and physical systems upon which that organism depends begin to collapse. [It turns out there is a opposed thought stream dedicated to the idea that human ingenuity can and will triumph over these limits, but that is an topic for another day.]

I have long been interested in human population growth, human demographics, the details of how we as a species have “gone forth and multiplied.” I view our survival as a species as dependent on our peak numbers and our pattern of resource use, especially the burning of carbon fuels. 

Today allow me to introduce to you a remarkable man, a statistician, physician, public speaker and educator, Hans Rosling. I find his presentations fascinating. He offers demographic insight that is entertaining and accessible to non-mathmeticians, I encourage you to click on and watch his 13:20 minute TED talk, Religions and Babies. It will be time well spent. He makes a convincing argument that human population will stabilize at around ten billion. That leaves open the question as to whether 10 billion exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet, but his talk offers some welcome hope.

Sadly, Hans Rosling died in February 2017, age 68. His TED lectures live on. I have enjoyed and learned something new from each one I have spent the time to watch. I encourage you to explore this man’s insights. 

Keep to the high ground,