The world has over 7.5 billions humans in it. The United Nations estimates that by the year 2100, the number will increase to over 11.2 billion people. Some would argue that the world is overpopulated. I contend that we aren’t even close.
The total surface area of the Earth is about 57,308,738 square miles. Typical overpopulation estimates claim that 57% of this surface area is uninhabitable. That is because 24% of the Earth’s surface area is mountainous and 33% is desert. This leaves 24,642,757 square miles of habitable land. That equates to 15.77 billion acres of land.
If the aforementioned estimates were to hold, there would only be about 1.3 acres per person of habitable land by 2100. But that isn’t going to happen. That is because humans are going to use technology to expand habitable possibilities on Earth and in our universe.
Human overpopulation occurs when the ecological footprint of a human population in a specific geographical location exceeds the carrying capacity of the place occupied by that group. The consideration that often isn’t reasonably measured is that technology has the ability to change the potential carrying capacity of a given location. Technology unleashes potential by transforming our situation into an imagined future.
Emerging tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has articulated a prime example of such imaginative possibility. While being interviewed on The Joe Rogan Podcast, Musk suggested that humanity could alleviate traffic congestion problems by simply digging tunnels, up to a 100 tunnels deep. Musk is actively working toward that goal with his company, The Boring Company, and that may not be the only use for such subterranean excavation.
The fact is that current overpopulation estimates are flawed in several ways. They don’t consider the possibility of transforming mountains or deserts into habitable land. They don’t consider creating aquatic dwelling spaces or colonizing other moons, asteroids, and planets. They also don’t reflect widespread declines in fertility rates or intentional decreases in the birth rate.
But, beyond all of these possibilities, current overpopulation debates don’t account for how subterranean dwelling, transportation, and farming could change the world we live in. Imagine a world where most roads are underground and where skyscrapers go as far below ground as above ground. Imagine a world where clean energy helps to grow food underground and provide underground parks and recreation areas.
I believe that we are just scratching the surface of understanding how to care for and steward the resources of our world. Much of that future begins simply by developing the technology to discover what has been right under our noses all along. In so doing, tech will provide us all the space we need for the foreseeable future.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. How do you think that creating massive tunnel systems under the surface of the Earth could positively or negatively impact overpopulation in the world?
2. How do you think that creating such tunnel systems could positively or negatively impact the surface of the Earth?
3. If we don’t build tunnel systems, how would you suggest that we curtail overpopulation concerns and its side effects?