Visualizing How a Population Grows to 7 Billion (Adam Cole & Maggie Starbard)

What It Shows

This video infographic gives a broad overview of how the world’s population skyrocketed from 0.3 billion a thousand years ago to 1 billion 200 years ago, and then in that 200 years from 1 billion to 7 billion today.

Why It’s Good

I love the simple water analogy. Drops in represent births, drops out represent deaths, and blocks to the drops out represent innovations in medicine and farming. Simple and effective.

Also, I didn’t really have a good sense of the scale of population growth on Earth until this infographic, which was nice to learn. The regional breakdown by color was a nice touch, and added a prettiness to the video that I think worked nicely.

What It’s Missing

The obvious question is of course: will this trend continue? The video says that the UN indicates a change at the end of this century at 10 billion, but they don’t explain why. Why not tell me?! I would have gladly taken a one-line summary, or a simple list of contributing causes. The accompanying article explains that figures are of course best guesses, and while some suspect a decline around 2100, some think the population could reach 15 billion by then.

The useful Wikipedia article on this topic helps, discussing a variety of projections and some reasons, including predictions of famine (which were predicted and came out false a few times in the past already) from insufficient agricultural resources or catastrophe caused by excessive uniformity of modern crops, a global modernization leading to reduced birth rates, energy shortages, and pandemics.

This infographic was found here.