Over the last two thousand years the human population has grown from 170 million to 7.4 billion people. By the year 2100, the population will likely reach 10 billion – a number that some posit will place unsustainable stress on the world’s available resources.
People can now explore the world’s exponential growth through time with World Population: An Interactive Experience – a map/timeline combo that shines light on global population trends between 1 C.E. to present, as well as the historical milestones that accompany them.
Each dot on the map represents one million people, and each milestone is organized into five themes: Food and Agriculture; Health; Science and Technology; Environment; People and Society.
As you scroll through the timeline, population dots and milestones appear and disappear on the map, with bonus descriptions popping up when you click on each icon.
For example, when the Black Death struck Europe in the middle of the 14th century, up to 50 per cent of continent’s population fell victim to the fast-moving and virulent plague. On the map, the outbreak manifests itself in the sudden reduction of population dots.
In Canada, the population dots don’t start multiplying until around the Industrial Revolution, when the global scale tips over 1 billion people.
“The capacity of our environment to provide space, to produce food and to supply energy are all limited,” says Sal Vecchio, a TV editor known for his work on National Geographic documentaries, in a video that accompanies the map. “Slowing human population growth and lowering our use of natural resources are key to reducing the impact we have on the planet.”
The map was made by Population Connection, an American grassroots organization that advocates for population stabilization.