Talk:World population/Archive 1

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Malthus's supposed prediction nowhere to be found

The first sentence in the section "Predictions of Population Growth" states that Malthus "incorrectly" predicted in 1798 "that population growth would outrun food supply by the mid 19th century." However, I can find no such prediction in his 1798 Essay. In fact, he makes a very different sort of point, namely, that population growth always has outrun food supply and always will. In Chapter 8 of his Essay on Population he writes:

"Mr Condorcet's picture of what may be expected to happen when the number of men shall surpass the means of their subsistence is justly drawn. The oscillation which he describes will certainly take place and will without doubt be a constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery. The only point in which I differ from Mr Condorcet with regard to this picture is the period when it may be applied to the human race. Mr Condorcet thinks that it cannot possibly be applicable but at an era extremely distant. If the proportion between the natural increase of population and food which I have given be in any degree near the truth, it will appear, on the contrary, that the period when the number of men surpass their means of subsistence has long since arrived, and that this necessity oscillation, this constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery, has existed ever since we have had any histories of mankind, does exist at present, and will for ever continue to exist, unless some decided change take place in the physical constitution of our nature.

In a literal sense, as long as people are dying of hunger, population growth is outrunning food supply. Malthus correctly points out in his essay that this has always been the case, and it has remained the case since Malthus published his Essay.

Normally, I would have simply deleted the sentence in question, but I hesitate because it both cites its supposed source and states a very common misconception about Malthus's views. It is very common even in the most academic articles and books to state that Malthus was predicting a future calamity to befall humankind-- for this reason I'm bringing up the issue on the talk page before altering the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:35, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

Estimated world population at various dates (in thousands) table

This table currently shows the world population as extremely small in the distant past, going to *2* at 70,000 BCE, then gives references that completely contradict this data (eg. reference 7 - Do I smell religious vandalism? In any case, this needs to be fixed. Humans have been around for way longer than 72,000 years, as the references plainly state. Haridan (talk) 16:18, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

How is this "religious vandalism"? And yes humans HAVE been around for more than 72,000 years, but the table does not show data regarding these times. Why don't you fix it up yourself if you can find a source? --Hamster X (talk) 11:29, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
The figures are in thousands, so that's 2,000, not 2. And the reference states that the population fell to as little as 2,000 around 70,000 BC. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:02, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

My problem is that at 500BC the table states the world population was at 100,000 however at 503BC there were around 120,000 people alone living in the city of Rome. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:50, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Human population in the Americas prior to 1750

Your chart showing the population of North America shows nothing until the year 1750. Are Native Americans not people in your eyes? Surely you can find a good estimate on the native populations of North and South America prior to 1750.

This post edited to address confusion over population figures. However, the statement about the population in the Americas prior to 1750 stands. 02:34, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Completely ridiculous claim

"The future of world population could be significantly affected by the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic. But if HIV/AIDS is controlled or eradicated, world population could increase much faster than predicted."

This claim is insulting, silly and just plain wrong. Any quick search reveals that approximately 30 million people have died from aids since around the 1980s. This gives us a figure of approx 1,000,000 people per year. Now even if that was to go up 20 times we would barely notice it. (Population wise I mean)

I believe this claim should be removed immediately. Maximg (talk) 02:14, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Anyone have any comments? If no-one disagrees I am going to remove it tomorrow. Maximg (talk) 05:11, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Area where world population would fit

While reading this with my son we wanted to know how large an area the world population would fit in.

If you assume that everyone is standing, and takes up 2 square feet, it would be 472 square miles. The area would expand 10 acres every day. I don't think that should be part of the article though.

Untrue claim

Is it absolutely necessary to first make an untrue claim and then explain that it is untrue? Would it not be better to give the number rounded to the nearest million and then parenthetically provide specific reported numbers along with dates? Fredrik | talk 01:35, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)

also, if this number is constantly changing by the second, shouldn't there be an indication of when this number was posted?
Furthermore, given that the population of some countries, most notoriously Nigeria and Lebanon, is known so imprecisely (in Nigeria's case, perhaps only to the nearest 10 million), such precision is surely meaningless? Batmanand | Talk 13:53, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
Giving the figure to 12 significant figures when we barely know it to 1 is clearly ridiculous. I've changed it to give 3 s.f. instead which is slightly more plausible. The fact that the statement "According to one set of calculations..." precedes it gives some room for leeway on this but not that much. Dcf3001 | Talk 00:24, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


Egypt is marked as one of the most populous countries on the "The 15 most populous nations" image, but it's not on the Top 15 list in the article. Comparing the Egypt and Ethiopia articles tells me that Egypt probably has more people than Ethiopia (according to the estimates, but maybe those don't count?). --Zomis (talk) 14:53, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Image:Population curve.png shows a violent exponential increase in population growth while Image:World population increase history.png shows that the world population has actually decreased over the last years. I suppose I'm reading it wrong but if I am, chances are other people are as well...? Celcius 21:35, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

There are two main differences:
1. Image:Population curve.png covers the last 12000 years but Image:World population increase history.png only covers the last 50 years
2. Image:Population curve.png plots the world population, while Image:World population increase history.png plots the increase of this population in a given year. Even if the increase in population goes down, the total population still increases, only less rapidly.
UnHoly 23:43, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

I add a comment on an inconsistency as regards the early population. It is defines as being 8000 persons at 8000 BC.

This is heavily underestimated. Findings in Turkey at Çatal Höyük, from a neolithic times city (6300 BC) estimate that this city alone could have a population of 6000. The reason was opsidia deposits in the area. One can assume that every deposit of opsidian would create a city arrount this precious resource at those times. And they were trading this material at distances well at 500 km to other communities. I could risk to spell a number in the range of million if we account for the foraging population and small comunities. However not being a paleontologist I would invite one to comment. :User:Chariskosmas May 2007

Oops previous comment removed - what is on this page is a lot more sensible once you notice that the figures are in thousands giving a prehistory figure of 5 million - sorry. Lucien86 (talk) 06:12, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
To be more precise a more accurate population graph could use a band between about 100,000 and maybe 10 million people for the entire 'prehistory' period, which would cover most possibilities. Bands are far clearer than single figures because they show some of the degree of imprecision. It could improve things further to put "thousands" as numbers -n "x1000s" in the chart. Thanks Lucien86 (talk) 06:24, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

the 6th billion

On what base the 6th billion was born in Ukraine in that family? roscoe_x 15:35, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

By looking at number from censuses from the past years and at the rate of growth, the United Nations Population Fund calculated that this child would be born (approximately) on that particular day. They wanted to make a ceremony to celebrate that fact, but of course no one actually keeps count or could tell which particular baby was the 6 billionth. They chose Sarajevo (which is in Bosnia, not Ukraine) because the city was just out of a long and bloody war, and this was a strong symbol of hope. Then, they just waited in a hospital until a baby would be born. UnHoly 16:13, 8 November 2005 (UTC)


copyedit: It seems to me more accurate to say:

  • world population reached 6 billion on 12 october 1999


  • 12 October 1999 is the approximate day on which the the six billionth baby was born, somewhere in the world

The second phrase implicitly says : "counting from the first baby born in the history of mankind".

It is generally estimated that about 60 billion men have lived so far.

(I moved this entry from above the table of contents, which seemed an odd place for it. It has apparently already been addressed. As an aside, I note the 60B number seems low. I've seen several independent estimates, all more like 100B.) Anon 00:15, 27 March 2006

Questionable numbers in first paragraph

The first paragraph says Approximately one fifth of all humans that have existed in the last six thousand years are currently alive. This seems rather iffy, so it would be worth including a cite.

Why iffy? Does the "six" in six thousand years sound like it should be meaningful? Would a 4 or 8 or 10 be different? Well, world pop is an order of magnitude down from 1 AD, so not so much. It's a game of choose a fraction which gives you a population which gets you to, say, 4 kyr back, and then rack up millennia. The sentence could as well have been Approximately one fifth of all humans that have existed in the last few thousand years are currently alive.

But is the first part even believable? 1/5, so 30B? A 1/4, 24B, would be a bad joke. And not even 1/6, or 1/7, 1/8, 1/9, or even 1/10, would get you past a plausible estimate like this.

Leaving us with A fraction of all humans that have existed in the last few thousand years are currently alive. Might be 1/5, 1/10, or 1/20. And 4, 6 or 10 kyr. A mere "Approximately" hardly seems adequate to non-misleadingly characterize this.

So two very overly precise, even meaningless, numbers, staking out a rather extreme position, in a high uncertainty domain. Which makes me think of propaganda, or a journalist dropping context. So a cite would be helpful.

This question was what lead me to this article. It is answered (as best it can be) in an article entitled "How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?" from "Population Today", as cited in, which I think should be used as a reference for the green growth graph on the left. FWIW, Haub estimates 106 billion people in total, with by far the majority after 6,000 BC, which makes the fraction far lower than the above. He estimates that 5.8% of people ever born were living in 2002 (note that 'born' includes young deaths, which were obviously far greater pre-18th century and esp. pre-historic)

I agree, even though (to pick a year) AD 1 the population was only a few hundred millionlife expactancy was 25 or so. So if the population was 250 million, about a billion would be born and die during the next century (or the preceding one) And who do you count? Homo Neaderthalensis? Homo Halibis? Homo Erectus? Even if you restrict it to our subspecies, population estimates for the old stone age are vague at best. I would keep the section of how many people have ever lived out of the article, although I am not going to bother with that when I see it. 18:51, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Reciprocal population

In the Image:AreaPerCapita_500_BC_to_2050_AD.PNG, there is a clear dip indicated by a vertical line. However, there is no indication of what year this line corresponds to, nor what event triggered it (collapse of the roman empire maybe?)

UnHoly 16:08, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Judging from the position, I'd guess that the line just shows the year 1. No guess on what caused the dip. Illuvatar 16:56, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
Reciprocal population.PNG

I have updated this image, adding numbers to the axes. Yes, the line was AD 1 (or actually year 0, which in this graph means 1 BC). Note that a minimum point in this reciprocal graph represents a maximum point in the population. The periods with declining population are, roughly:

(The exact beginning and end of each decline here is an artefact of the smoothing used in creating the graph from a limited number of estimates.)

Anyway, I contributed this graph and the doubling sequences. Honestly, do you think these contributions are useful? I think they are illustrative, but some may find them confusing, e.g. mistaking ups and downs in the receiprocal graph. I have added labels "100 million", "200 million", ..., "5 billion" to the graph; I hope that helps. Should I be bold and increase the image size - like this? --Niels Ø 09:55, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

This is much clearer now, thanks. Is there a specific reason why you use the reciprocal? As for the size, sure, go ahead, as long as it looks nice in the article. UnHoly 07:30, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
Why? Well, I've tried different representations - linear, semi-log, log-log etc. - and I find this is the simplest one that gives a "neat" picture. Most people should be able to understand it if explained as "land area per capita", or the like.-- 06:42, 6 October 2005 (UTC) is in fact me - sorry I forgot to log in!--Niels Ø 13:35, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

The authors have not explained why reciprocal population is a meaningful quantity. The reciprocal population graph is useful in showing population trends for times when the population is very large, and when it is very small. However, a logarithmic plot or a log-log plot would be much more meaningful, useful, and is the canonical way to show such data. I have a hunch that the reciprocal population graph was created by someone who was very creative, yet naive of log plots. Unless someone makes clear why the quantity 1/population is meaningful and useful for more than just making pretty graphs, I will replace the reciprocal population graph with a logarithmic graph.⇝CasitoTalk 17:26, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Dear Casito. I made that graph, I put it in - and I expected comments like yours. I'm surprised it took so long... I was in no way naive of log plots, in fact I've taught them for years (I'm a high school math teacher in Denmark, and lin-log and log-log plots are curriculum). I'll tell you how I came to produce the reciprocal graph - and by telling that, I'll supply ammunition to anyone who may want to claim that it's original research.
First, I extracted the data from Ponting: A Green History of the World. (I have since double checked with other sources, but that hasn't changed much, prossibly because the sources aren't really independent. The data begins year 10000 BC, but I've omitted the first 9500 years in the graph I submitted here.) Then I produced a regular linear graph - and as expected, it blows up in the 20th century. So I produced a lin-log graph (i.e. linear time axis, logarithmic population axis) - and it too blowed up in the 20th century!
Then I considered a log-log plot, but the resulting graph would depend crucially on the choice of zero point for the time axis. So I tried different choices, in the past as well as in the future. To my surprise, I could "civilise" the population explosion into a reasonably linear graph, but only by defining year 2034 AD (plus/minus 10 years or so) as the zero point for my time axis. Today - year 2006 - is then "year 26 BA" (Before the Asymptote). With this time axis, the log-log plot fitted a straight line reasonably well for years AD 1400-2000, and remarkably well for AD 1700-1980. And the gradient turned out to be -1 (plus/minus 0.03), so the expression for this line was P(t)=k/(2032-t), where t represents year AD.
That result made me realise that a plot of 1/P vs. t should produce a straight line too - and so it does.
Now, is that interesting? I think so. And is it relevant to the article? I'm not sure; I put it there to see what reactions it would produce. But I do think a wikipedia reader with sufficient mathematical insight to understand the implication of the line intersecting the axis in 2032 would find the graph instructive.
Here's some quotes from the summary page for this image at wikimedia (written by me):
Shows development in available land area, or in any other constant resource, per capita. (The actually arable land area has not been a constant resource in that period.)
Note the almost linear decrease AD 1400 to 2000, pointing towards zero around AD 2030. As this would correspond to an infinite population, it cannot really happen.
This linear decrease corresponds to a growth form where the doubling time required for each doubling of the population is half of that for the previous doubling. A mathematical model leading to this form of growth is one in which the relative growth is proportional to the population. This can be contrasted with exponential growth, where the absolute growth is proportional to population, i.e., where the relative growth is constant.
Perhaps some of the observations in this discussion could be included in the article, thereby making the relevance of the graph clearer - but, to avoid accusations of original research, I'll leave it to others to do so - or to remove the graph.
I have an Excel spreadsheet comparing data from several sources, and including lin-lin, lin-log, log-log, and lin-rec graphs. The image I've submitted is the lin-rec graph, post-processed a bit in a graphics program. I'll be happy to e-mail this spreadsheet to anyone interested (I don't think one should upload Excel files to wikimedia, am I right?). Use my talk page to get in touch with me. I have uploaded the raw data here.
--Niels Ø 19:03, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't trying to be demeaning when I wrongly accused you of being naive of logarithmic plots, and I'm sorry if I have offended you. I think that in many ways we are both trying to solve the same problem. Global population is highly nonlinear, and in fact, chaotic. Thus, no curve fit will really do it justice as we both realize. I think that the second graph should not intend to make some profound statement about population trends, but rather should just allow the reader to see population trends for both really small and really large populations. A log-y plot is the typical way to do that. Sure, the curve will not be a straight line, but it will still allow the reader to see population trends over all times, which is the idea. A log-log plot might also be a good choice, since recent data is more dese than ancient data. On the other hand, as you described above, logrithmic time is a strange animal, since there is no zero time datum. In fact, making time a log scale is very uncommon and can be confusing to the reader, thus it's probably best avoided.
Regarding the hyperbolic fit you described, how are you weighting your data (I'm just curious)? Are you giving each data point the same weight? Uniform weighting of interpolated points? or something more complicated?
I agree that unless we can find some literature that a certain curve fit of population versus time is accepted or used by the scientific community, we should probably avoid trying to insinuate that such a fit exists, as that would border on origional research.⇝CasitoTalk 16:48, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm in no way offended; I'm actually happy to see some reactions. I like my reciprocal plot, and perhaps the fact that it has been allowed to stay in the article for a year indicates that others do too - perhaps not. I agree a lin-log plot could do some good. - As for weighting the reciprocal population data in my linear regression, I just used the points I had (see my raw data; I used the data labelled "Ponting" as far as they go, and then "UN medium"), uniformly weighted. Of course, as you suggest, other weightings could be used, but I don't think the results would change much.
Let t = years AD, and let P = population in billions.
Using data t = 1400 to 2000, a power law regression of P vs (t0 - t) gives the highest R2 with the zero point for time at t0 = 2034.5:
  • P = 250×(2034.5-t)-1.0228, with R2 = 0.9966.
I cite the R2 value, but it's really more relevant to observe that the model stays within 10% of all the data points (with largest deviations -8% in AD 1600, +7% in AD 1700, and +10% in 2000), while the population grows by 1639%.
Inspired by the proximity of the exponent to -1, I did linear regression of 1/P vs t. If 1/P = -at+b, we have P = (1/a)×(b/a-t)-1.
  • Using data t = -500 to 2050, I get P = 324×(2087-t)-1, with R2 = 0.9364.
  • Using data t = 500 to 2050, I get P = 290×(2069-t)-1, with R2 = 0.9867.
  • Using data t = 1400 to 2000, I get P = 222×(2035-t)-1, with R2 = 0.9956.
  • Using data t = 1700 to 1990, I get P = 200×(2025-t)-1, with R2 = 0.9995.
--Niels Ø 09:10, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I think it's a nice looking graph, but I think a lot of people are going to be confused by it. I mean I understand what it's saying and I have trouble relating it to meaningful numbers... TastyCakes 05:27, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
I just noticed a new section added below in this discussion, #Removed from article. The paper mentioned there deals with the same type of models as I do above, and thus adds support to the sensibility of a reciprocal plot. However, I agree with the decision to remove the section as it was, but perhaps someone can add a brief reference to this stuff in the article, near "my" graph?--Niels Ø 13:32, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Niels, I like your attempt to visualise the hyperbolic nature of the historic population growth. However, I think this hyperbolic growth is better demonstrated by plotting the growth rate (% per annum) against the total population. Notice that also in this plot hyperbolic growth shows up as a linear trend. Notice also that we've 'made the turn' with a total population that is levelling off rather than growing hyperbolically. In a 1/population versus time plot this feature is strongly suppressed. JocK 15:52, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

NPOV - Biblical Creationism

"In line with population projections, this figure continues to grow at rates that are unprecedented prior to the 20th century."

The 6,000 years scale implies that the Earth is 6,000 years old, and therefore reeks of Christian Creationism. 06:52, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Living happily in a country where fundamentalism and creationism are not (yet) seen everywhere, I had not made that connection - and I don't think it "reeks". It's an interesting fact(oid), and extending the time span further back would include periods where estimates of population and life span are less certain. On the other hand, it IS certan that the population was so much lower than today that I think extending the time span all the way back to Lucy, or at least to the birth of agriculture approx. 10000 BCE wouldn't make much difference.--Niels Ø 07:04, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Section 2: Forecasts of World Population

The section on population predictions should include proposed answers to the following questions: How big will world population get? How will the transition from current rapid growth phase to a sustainable stable phase occur? Will this be an easy or difficult transition? -- Huysmantalk 19:48, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Removed from article

In 1960 von Foerster, Mora, and Amiot published, in the journal Science, a striking discovery (Foerster, H. von, P. Mora, and L. Amiot. 1960. Doomsday: Friday, 13 November, A.D. 2026. Science 132: 1291–5). They showed that between 1 and 1958 CE the world's population (N) dynamics can be described in an extremely accurate way with an astonishingly simple equation:

Nt = C/(t0 - t),

where where Nt is the world population at time t, and C and t0 are constants, with t0 corresponding to an absolute limit ("singularity" point) at which N would become infinite. Of course, von Foerster and his colleagues did not imply that the world population on that day could actually become infinite. The real implication was that the world population growth pattern that was followed for many centuries prior to 1960 was about to come to an end and be transformed into a radically different pattern. Note that this prediction began to be fulfilled only in a few years after the "Doomsday" paper was published: Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow, URSS, 2006 (ISBN 5484004144), Chapter 1.
This recent addition is overly enthousiastic and badly formatted. -- Ec5618 10:45, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

Clean-up tag?

What is particularly wrong with this article that it requires the (always ugly) clean-up tag? Marskell 21:39, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

For one, I think the subheading "doomsayers" lacks neutrality, in that it implicitly dismisses concerns about the very real and present effects of population growth as doomsaying.


Why is the population of north America in 1750 listed as 2 million? That seems absurdly low. In the "population history of native americans" article its is states that at LEAST 8 million INDIANS ALONE lived in the Americas. Please reveiw.

Pre-1500 I would think what you're saying is true, but I believe by 1750 old world germs (and to a lesser extent weapons) had killed off a huge portion of that population. TastyCakes 17:05, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
What the hell? 50 million africans were taken from africa during the slave trades. These were documented (also that half of them died on their way fro mthe continent). The population would still be fairly large.

-G —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:18, 11 February 2007 (UTC).

Total number of human beings

Has anyone ever tried to calculate the total number of human beings there have been since creation? For example, there could be a total number of 4 trillion human beings that have lived on the Earth (not at the same time obviously). That is, how many individual human beings have there been? I hope this question is clear enough. [unsigned]

I guess it was a harder question then I thought. [unsigned]
Like so much else, it has been on this page, but has been removed. Of course, nobody really knows, and quite different answers has been given. Some years ago, I in several different places came across the claim that more than half of all humans who have ever existed are alive today, but as far as I remember the material that used to be on this page, that was an exaggeration.--Niels Ø 18:59, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

World Population at 0 AD

I remember reading Durant some while back and also references in the World Almanac that gave the population of the world at 0 AD as 200 million and not 300 million. The references given at the end of the article go to links that do not give references. There is also a very small jump from 0AD to 1000AD. The existance of agriculture in general has allowed a greater number of persons on the earth in comparison with numbers that existed at 3000BC or before, when writing and agriculture did not exist in most areas, with a somewhat gradual increase in human population since then. Can someone give more references to the 300 million figure versus the 200 million figure, including sources for the UN figures at the UN website, or if not that then revise down the figures?

There are a lot of high powered sources that in the past have tended to give a world population of about 200 million for 0AD. A cool looking map from NOVA and even an unreferenced source page from the UN are not enough to challenge the figure of 200 million without further data given. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 02:51, 20 September 2006

First, a little nitpicking: There is no year 0 AD, as year 1 BC was followed by year AD 1. Anyway, let me remind you of the page Talk:World population/data, also linked above in this discussion, where I have collected data from various sources. It seems you are right: Most sources give values like 200 million or less around year "0", not 300 million.--Niels Ø 08:16, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
So what you are saying is that the year before Christ is followed by the year after Christ. Then where did the year of Christ go? 10:38, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
Well, according to legend, he was born close to new year, so that's not really the problem. Of coures, we know the historical Jesus was actually born a few years earlier, but all the same...--Niels Ø 19:25, 14 October 2006 (UTC)
AD is not after death it is Anno Domani, in the year of the Lord, as in after Christ's birth. Since Christ rose from the dead according to Christian belief, it is still a year of our Lord, and that is why AD is continuing to be used and why 1 AD comes right after 0 BC Jztinfinity 04:09, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
Except it doesn't - it comes right after 1 BC, which is what I attempted to explain above.--Niels Ø 07:18, 1 December 2006 (UTC)
How did people in BC number their years? Because I'm sure that they didn't count down to AD... --YeoungBraxx 20:46, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
See AD, quote: "Anno Domini" dating was first calculated in 525. Before - and many places after - AD 525, years could be counted as "in the third year of the reign of King Zorro the 5th", or the like.--Niels Ø (noe) 08:25, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
Exactly, the Romans counted from the year of the founding of the city "ab urbe condita", 753BCE to us. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:26, August 20, 2007 (UTC)

History of population

What's the history of the world before the year 0? I mean there were cavemen hundreds of thousands of years ago, sure, but how many do the brain men think there were? And please ignore the barbaric Christian beliefs that human history is short and that we didn't evolve from neanderthals, because it should be about fact. But from that population "history" you could be forgiven for believing that humans just suddenly appeared, at numbers of 300 million at the year 0 JayKeaton 09:55, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Actually, we didn't evolve from Neanderthals. They're extinct relatives. DirkvdM 07:38, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
That wasn't the point, a comparison of whatever we were when Neanderthals were around. It's like the world didn't exist before the year 0 otherwise JayKeaton 11:47, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Still I find it pretty ironic that you were talking about facts whilst having one of your major arguements comprehensively wrong. Probably worth noting as well that documented human hisotry is fairly short. If you can find accurate figures going back milleniums then feel free to use them. I doubt you will have much success. Also just wondering; how is someone thinking that humans appeared 6000 years ago "barbaric"? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ronan.evans (talkcontribs) 12:01, 13 March 2007 (UTC).
I would imagine its 'barbaric' because it comes from the pre-science pre-enlightenment era. In Jesuses time they had no idea about geology or space or how old the world is or how things work, and there was no real distinction between myth, legend, reality, fantasy or history. Lucien86 (talk) 06:01, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
I'd like to know how it is possible that there were only several hundred thousand people between the years 500 BCE and 0, when Xerxes, it is claimed, led an army of near such a number in his invasion of Greece =/ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:39, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Table gives population in thousands.--Noe (talk) 08:08, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Exact date for 6.5 billion mark?

The intro says Earth's population reached 6.5 billion on Saturday, 25 February 2006. Isn't that ridiculously precise? The population number will probably be an addition of partly out of date data that are often mere estimates. And even a decent census will have inaccuracies. And I can't believe averaging out will be sufficient to pinpoint the exact day. It's a citation, so might deserve a place in the article, but it's probably an oversimplification to sell newspapers. The intro should just state that as of 2006 the world population is 6.5 billion. DirkvdM 07:35, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Section: World Population History

Are the graphs and table listings for North America and Latin America/Carribean nations mixed up here? Is Mexico considered part of Latin America? This chart shows North America with approximately 330M people as of 2005. This only accounts for Canada and the USA. Text in the section immediately preceeding World Population History states North America has 514M as of 2005.
This should be changed if it is in error (North America/Latin America reversed), or a note of geographic boudaries (eg. ...Mexico is part of Latin America...) used to determine the population breakdown in this chart should be added. 14:51, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Terry H.

Whoops! Just re-skimmed this talk article- I missed the earlier discussion of North America. I agree that "Northern America" is a more appropriate label. I've added a footnote to clarify that it indicates USA and Canada. 15:13, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Terry H.

Material lost in this article, perhaps belonging to Population growth

The distinction between what belongs in this article, and what belongs in the Population growth article is not clear to me. Can anyone enlighten me - or should they in fact be merged?

There used to be some material on this page, which perhaps belonged on the other, but which now is at neither. Most of it was lost in the revert after this vandalistic edit. It is the following material:

Rate of population increase

Population (est.) 10,000 BC – 2000 AD.
World population 1950–2000

The 20th century saw the biggest increase in the world's population in human history. The following table shows estimates of when each billion milestone was met:

  • 1 billion was reached in 1802.
  • 2 billion was reached 125 years later in 1927.
  • 3 billion was reached 34 years later in 1961.
  • 4 billion was reached 13 years later in 1974.
  • 5 billion was reached 13 years later in 1987.
  • 6 billion was reached 12 years later in 1999.

These numbers show that the world's population has tripled in 72 years, and doubled in 38 years up to the year 1999.

Increase rate 1950–2000

Some estimates say that the human population around AD 950 was 250 million and in 2027 will be 8 billion, and the world population doubled (or will double) in the following years (doubling times in parentheses):

  • AD 950 (650) 1600 (202) 1802 (125) 1927 (47) 1974 (50) 2027.

Yet other estimates (beginning with 375 million around year 1420) say:

  • 1420 (300) 1720 (155) 1875 (86) 1961 (38) 1999.

Note how, during the 2nd millennium, each doubling has taken roughly half as long as the previous doubling.

The UN estimated in 2000 that the world's population was then growing at the rate of 1.14% (or about 75 million people) per year [1]. This growth rate has been generally decreasing from its peak at 2.19% in 1963.


The sections World population#Population Distribution and World population#History appear to contradict each other. In particular, one section says that ‘Oceania’ (whatever that means) has 60 million people, whereas the other says it has

No date is provided in the Population Distribution section, so I assume it’s roughly current—sometime since 2000. The exact timing doesn’t really matter because there’s a contradiction however we look. The other discrepancies seem reasonable, but the ‘Oceania’ section is different by a factor of two.

Year World Africa Asia Europe Latin America US & Canada South America North America Americas (total) Oceania
pop distn secn 6 295 000 840 000 3 800 000 710 000 n/a n/a 514 000 371 000 885 000 60 000
(history secn) 2000 6 070 581 795 671 3 679 737 727 986 520 229 315 915 n/a n/a 836 144 31 043
(history secn) 2005 6 453 628 887 964 3 917 508 724 722 558 281 332 156 n/a n/a 890 437 32 998

I note that according to List of countries by population, Papua New Guinea + Australia + New Zealand = ~30 million. PNG, Australia and NZ are sometimes considered part of Oceania but aren’t really. But um. The population of the rest of Oceania is negligible, certainly not 30 million.

I assume it’s the ‘Distribution’ section that’s wrong (PNG+Oz+NZ might’ve been double counted?). Anyone got any further knowledge that tells me that other parts of Wikipedia I’ve used are wrong?

Felix the Cassowary 12:14, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

The primary use of the term Oceania is to describe a macrogeographical region that lies between Asia and the Americas, with the Australian continent as the major landmass and consisting of some 25,000 islands in the Pacific. The name Oceania is used because, unlike the other regional groupings, it is the ocean and adjacent seas rather than a continent that link the lands together (see Oceania Overview). Oceania's population is actually ~40 million (with the combined population of Australia, New Zealand and PNG = 30 million), though the population figures are out of date on the Oceania page.--Just James 21:40, 17 October 2006 (GMT+10:00)
My point wasn’t really how you classify who’s a part of Oceania; just that the article contradicts itself by saying the population of the area is 60 million in one section, and 30 million in the next. But as I say, the primary use of ‘Oceania’ in Australia (at least as I’m familiar with it) is to refer to the various Pacific Islands out to our east; it usually doesn’t apply to Australia or New Zealand or Papua New Guinea. (I’m familiar with the inclusion of Australia in Oceania only from Wikipedia and European-based multinationals. I note tho that you’re also an Australian, so obviously there’s some variety in this.) —Felix the Cassowary 10:08, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
My understanding was that Australia and New Zealand were a part of Oceania as well. --WikiSlasher 12:29, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Total population

At the top of the article it says 6.7 billion but the ref for it mentions 6.5 billion. Also I've seen 6.5b more on the Internet. --WikiSlasher 12:29, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

I've changed it to 6.5 billion. --WikiSlasher 05:36, 1 November 2006 (UTC)


I've heard there were about 300,000 people in Australia before Europeans arrived - were there really 1.7 million in Polynesia? EamonnPKeane 21:35, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Population Chart Inconsistencies

The chart is completely laughable. my history books show china as having a population of roughly 550 million in 1720 CE, Rome was the first city to top 1 million inhabitants (in 30 BCE), and there were CERTAINLY more than just 50,000 people in 1000 BCE.

The chart at World population estimates exactly fits my information, and is much more believable.

If this chart is at all believable, then it would show that the vast majority of the population is nothing more than inbred hicks derived from incest (which may explain decreased fertility since 1960, but...that's besides the point). The Legendary RaccoonFoxTalkStalk 21:39, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

The numbers on the chart must be multiplied by 1000 as noted in the article. It shows a population of 50,000,000 in 1000BCE not 50,000. Alan Liefting 09:20, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

The Americas

In the days ahead, I plan on working on the chart with regard to the Americas for the following reasons.

The numbers and organization of the American population as given in the chart are innaccurate, ill-informed and disorganized. First of all, by convention the entire North American continent is known to contain the present areas of Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Central America. (The equator actually passes in South America.) Second, the current political (i.e. colonial) separation of Mexico and central America from population counts of "North America" is an artificial and meaningless distinction, particularly for pre-Columbia times. This brings me to my third point, which is that the table neglects to include about 12000 years or 96% of the time of human presence in the region. In fact, the graph fails to include pre-Columbian estimates of population size right before the arrival of Europeans. Thus, the chart neglects the documented decline of the Amerindian populations in the years 1500 to 1700. NoraBG 14:00, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Reference 11 duplication

I accidentally duplicated reference 11 and can't seem to get rid of it. Can you fix, please? (Mollwollfumble 06:19, 30 January 2007 (UTC)).

Needs a clean up

looks like the page has been vandalised.... check the first paragraph


It would be prudent to have a statement of the form "many religions maintain ...." and give a few dates for the start of the earth. This is an alternative point of view and as a reader I would be interested to see how the scientific and religious point of view compare. Mike 10:46, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

I disagree. I say keep religion out of the article. It's an unnecessary controversy, and the article is not about the age of the earth, or even how long humans have been on it, but rather the number of humans we believe there were at various points in history. TastyCakes 20:55, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the previous talker - all scientific articles in wikipedia should be about science, not made-up beliefs without good scientific sources. The earth's age is not of importance in the article. Ran4 15:53, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Population by country

Instead of breaking up into countries, which are kind of arbitrary, can we just use the map of population density as the main map and show country boundaries on that map? — Omegatron 21:23, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Source for historical population

Suggest updating with [2].-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  23:07, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

uhhh.... 15.3 billion?

Forecast of World Population?

Okay, the "Forecast of world population" section says that forecasting hinges on two factors, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the number of Latinos worldwide. According to the adjacent chart, the population of central/south america, where most "Latinos" are presumed to live, is not particularly significant compared to the population of say, India. plus, the Latino bullet discusses the United States in great detail, which really has little or nothing to do with world population forecasting. It seems as though this uncited claim better serves to imply there are too many Latinos in the world than contribute any real information.

Also, the AIDS bullet directly adjacent seems to say, in somewhat gentler words, that if HIV/AIDS is eradicated, the population of Africa will explode. Now, this could potentially be legit, but it has no citation and its close proximity to the Latino claim makes me wonder if it is similarly arguing that science should avoid curing AIDS because then there will be more africans.

Thoughts? April.s 23:44, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I thought so too--the birtrate of Latinos is higher that for 'white' USA natives, but not hugely so, and the population of Latin America is much smaller than the population of Africa, much less Asia. Fertility and birth rates in Latin American countries have decreased significantly in the last 20 years. Also, immigration into the USA does not change world population--it just redistributes it. Furthermore, according to the USA census bureau, the population increased close to 3 million in 2006, not 5 million. There is always some fuzzyness in the accuracy of demographic statistics, but that is a gross and easily verifiable error. I deleted the section 18:31, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I have also removed the following from the "Rate of Increase" section, which seems to reflect a Western POV and is mostly talking about population data for Latinos in the United States. Also the figures are wrong: even if 33 million ethnically Latino people are born every year (only M 56 out of M 133 yearly births are on a continent other than Asia), the world total that is given is for net population increase, not births.
While the regions with the highest growth are in Asia and Africa, the world's fastest growing ethnic group are Hispanic-Latino origin, who make up 33 of the 75 million people born per year, or 44% of the world's population growth per year. The primary reasons for their fast growth vary, from their refusal to perform any abortion acts (as this is a defiance to the Roman Catholic church), to their sparsely-usage of contraceptives when performing intercourse. In the United States, Hispanic adolescent girls are the most likely to become pregnant, and as the poorest minority, are also the least likely to get an abortion. Also in the United States, Hispanics with the highest birth rates are illegal immigrants, who constitute highly-densely populated areas in the nation, especially in the Downtown section of Los Angeles, which is also among the U.S.'s poorest regions. Kyle Cronan 03:16, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
That is factually incorrect. First, there are more than 130 million births annually in the world, not 75 million. Second, the number of births in the western hemisphere is under 20 million annually, when you add up all the countries in North America and South America. At least 4 million births in the USA and Canada come from people of non-Hispanic white or African American or Asian background. So your figure of 33 million Latino births annually falls to 15-16 million at best. The continent with the fastest growing population in numerical terms is Asia, and in percentage terms Africa. In the 1960s and 70s, Latin American populations may indeed have been the fastest growing in percentage terms in the world. But birth rates have been trending down sharply in the last 20 years--some countries such as Chile, Argentina and Uruguay have fertility rates below replacement level--and the countries with the largest populations in Latin American (Brazil, Mexico) have populations growing barely over 1% annually. Some countries in Central America still have very high growth rates, but in Mexico and South America explosive (2% and up) annual growth is no longer occurring.

The whole tenor of the arguement seems to be a fear that a brown wave of Latin immigration is going to overwhelm us all. But like most fears of this sort, it is based on falsehoods.

Whoa hold on, my figure? I'm the one that removed it from the article. I only copied it here so that people could see what I was refuting. I completely agree that it's fear-mongering of the worst sort. Kyle Cronan 03:48, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

Oops, sorry my apologies.


What's with the attack of political correctness? Years are counted from the birth of christ established as refference. Saying "common era" is like hiding an elephant behind a telephone pole.

False, BC/AD does not start with the actual birth of christ. I think we should all use BCE/CE - there's no reason to use religious terms when there's nonreligious terms available. There's over six billion people on this planet. Less than 2 billion is believing christians. Ran4 15:57, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Someone swapped all the CE -> AD and BCE -> BC without reformatting to place the AD before the year (as it is traditionally done) and their edit summary was "Continuity throughout the article". Huh ? what does that mean ? I have reverted on the basis that we don't need to be like Conservapedia on every article. Ttiotsw (talk) 08:16, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

So using BC/AD dating is Conservative now? What a fucking joke! Our system of dating is based on the birth of Christ. What on Earth is offensive about that? Why do we need to cover that up? Shall we start using metric time while we're at it?? --Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (talk) 10:16, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
The aim of MOS:DATE is to avoid an edit war. Edit wars are tedious, time wasting and not an honourable way to die. Ttiotsw (talk) 22:34, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
WP:MOS has no preference. As I see it the dates are stable for the past few months (ignoring drive-by vandalism) at BCE/CE thus the change by Special:Contributions/CrazyInSane a few days ago [3] seems arbitrary. Looking at some of their other changes e.g. [4] where they bizarrely mixed both conventions, I don't see that they understand the point of WP:MOS. Their attempt at going back a few years to identify first-mover (talk about a waste of time) misses the point of consensus and how articles change over time. They should have added to talk first. Ttiotsw (talk) 17:44, 6 August 2008 (UTC)
(note to self) Ummm - only now just noticed Block log for that user. That kind of explains the focus on BC/BCE etc. Ttiotsw (talk) 19:48, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

What use would this article be for Policy Decision Makers?

What use, if any does any of the above knowledge have for human decision making and policy setting at the governmental/international level? Of course, this is a silly point in a sense, as there are *very many* possible applications of the knowledge, but here are some thoughts :

1) Those areas with the greatest population growth could be provided with aid in order to enable the relevant governments to control population size - this would enable a longer time frame within which countries can adapt to the problems induced by resource allocation and large populations.

2) The prediction of likely immigration patterns (this has already been done I'm sure, but worth finding out about).

3) Likely limits placed on population growth (for example, water scarcity, agricultural land scarcity, etc...).

4) Predicting the characteristics of the future population. For example :

i) What does the average human being look like ? How has the average human being changed in appearance over time? I doubt anyone will get time to do this, but it is interesting.

ii) Male:Female ratio, etc...

iii) Height, IQ, etc.... (this is useful for various reasons - though I can imagine that it would be quite controversial, etc...).

Please do comment - would just like to motivate discussion.

ConcernedScientist 21:32, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

10 Most Populous Nations

This section needs serious revision, or possibly needs to be removed. Headed "THE 10 MOST POPULOUS NATIONS", it lists PRC, India, United States, Indonesia, Other Asia, Africa, Europe, U.S.A., North America, South America, Middle East, China ... Most of them are not countries, and two of them are repeated. Then it says "these 15 countries". Ordinary Person 12:29, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

I have fixed it and reverted the section to the way it was before the edit by Graham87 05:55, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Human population growth

Should this be redirected somewhere (either here or population growth)? Is it worthy of a separate article? Richard001 07:19, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

The same applies to world population growth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Richard001 (talkcontribs) 10:44, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Actual Population of People's Republic of China

Future Populations

Why are made-up population projections for 2050 and 2150 listed as "historical figures"? Furthemore, these figures are listed to the nearest million. It seems very far-fetched that the population of the world in 2150 can be projected to anywhere near this level of accuracy. BriKaBraK 20:11, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, we use this accuracy even if we can't be that accurate. Sometimes in the article, exact numbers are used, like 6 453 628 people in 2005. Of course we don't know exactly if there's even 6,5 or 6,6 billion, but we still use the exact number since otherwise we'd get rounding errors. Ran4 16:06, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Who is "we"? My scientific education taught me specifically not to state figures to unjustified levels of accuracy, but what does the British education system know compared to the might of Wikipedia? If current and past figures are similarly stated to arbitrary levels of accuracy that cannot be empirically supported then this, too, ought to be ammended. I don't know enough about measuring current populations to say what level of accuracy we can give it to, but I do know that we cannot give predictions for 140 years into the future to seven significant figures. BriKaBraK 07:53, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
I have updated the titles. The future numbers are just an extrapolated result with an associated error percentage (for this percentage you'd have to look at how the figures were created). To round the number to make it look less accurate and so more appealing then you are in fact increasing the error percentage. We cannot do this. The numbers should stay as they are. If I take a amp reading and my multimeter goes to 1,000th of a amp then I can write 2.368 amps or I can round it to 2.4 amps (for example). If I do a network calculation and I end up predicting 2.361 then I round it to 2.36 or 2.4 to make it look nice but the when I measure the network I got 2.368 amps (for example) so I'm comparing that to calculated and rounded estimate and will show a greater or lesser error difference. Not good. Ttiotsw 09:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
What you want is bands - bands (can) work very well. - Lucien86 (talk) 06:35, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
Your ammeter might read to 1000th of an amp but very often its accuracy will be far lower - yes you keep the raw data but you keep your results tabulated. (I do a lot of physics estimate calculation's and one figure of accuracy is usually more than enough - light is 3E8, c^2 is 9E16, G is 6E-11, pi is 3.14 or 3, the earth weighs 10^24 etc - scratchpad equations are often a few orders of magnitude out anyway.) Lucien86 (talk) 06:56, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Blatant Inconsistancy between articles

In the List of largest cities throughout history, if you look at 100 BCE, you find that a single city has a much larger population than that listed in this article, and in 1AD Rome by itself appears, according to the former article, to have 4 times the population of the world. Can't be good, right? 07:30, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

The List of Largest Cities is in units; if you look at the table in this article, it's in thousands. So, in 1 AD the population of Rome was 800,000 people, and the population of the world was 200,000 thousands, ie 200 million people. Problem solved. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:10, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

i.e. 200, 000, 000 = 200, 000 thousands.

-G —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:46, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

future of world population

  • The future of world population could be significantly affected by the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic. But if HIV/AIDS is controlled or even eradicated, world population could increase much faster than predicted.
i am deleting the word even from the above sentence, as it conveys a wrong meaning.  —Preceding unsigned comment added by The persistent invincible (talkcontribs) 19:51, 12 October 2007 (UTC) 
The charts are "in thousands" i.e. they say...Estimated world population at various dates, in thousands, thus at 1CE/AD it says 200,000+ which means 200 Million. Which is OK I think. Ttiotsw 20:46, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Philippines and Vietnam?

Well according to there respective Wikipedia articles, the Philippines is 12th and Vietnam is 13th in most populous countries. Should it be fixed or should their respected articles be changed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:39, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Current population over 6.6 billion not 6.7

It is not of major importance but if one goes to the sources given one finds that the population is just over 6.6 billion and not 6.7. I am talking about the very first sentence in the article, by the way. I will change it back to "over 6.60 billion." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Artur Buchhorn (talkcontribs) 17:20, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Isn't the currenet population sustained by oil?

surly shortages of oil will start to bring the population down before 2150? -- (talk) 12:21, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

No. By 2150 we'll be mining hydrocarbons from Titan. It rains fuel there. Population growth has been supported by the humble toilet, mains water, democracy and social welfare, in no particular order.Ttiotsw (talk) 19:13, 18 March 2008 (UTC)
Crap, when the tractors go, so do we! (talk) 22:46, 26 March 2008 (UTC)


This article forecasts different populations. For example; Under "Milestones" it predicts that the population will hit 9 Billion in 2042, yet under "Forecast of world population" it predicts that in 2045 the population will be 8.7 Billion, and in 2050 the population will be 8.9 Billion. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:03, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


The second paragraph is based on Patrick Buchanan's claims about the West being overrun by foreigners. The "negative effects" are from a racist point of view; that is, from a POV. Which, if I may spell it out for you, goes against wikipedia's NPOV policy.

Thus, I'd like to remove it.

Better? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dfunk1967 (talkcontribs) 08:43, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

New population pie chart

I have made a new, more detailed population chart. I think it provides more information and detail than the one already provided, although it's also more cluttered and thus harder to read at a small scale. You could also quibble with how I divided up the world, but I put a lot of thought into it and can't find any major discrepancies. Brutannica (talk) 22:52, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Very good work, I like it. --FrancescoA (talk) 07:22, 4 April 2008 (UTC)
O.K., if there are no objections I guess I'll post it then. Brutannica (talk) 02:02, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

"The world population is the total number of humans on Earth at a given time." Does anyone think this is an inaccurate definition? What about DEAD humans...? (talk) 16:39, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

How about: "The world population is the total number of currently living humans on Earth."? NoHitHair (talk) 08:05, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Surely this should be compressed as a PNG for superior image quality? The JPEG artefacts are very noticeable in this diagram. MattieTK 23:43, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

AD/BC or CE/BCE and what MOS:DATE says on styles.

The MOS:DATE states that the style of the original or major contribution to the article dictates the style.

In June 2005, the Arbitration Committee ruled that when either of two styles is acceptable, it is inappropriate for an editor to change an article from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so. Edit warring over optional styles is unacceptable. If an article has been stable in a given style, it should not be converted without a style-independent reason. Where in doubt, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

Ttiotsw (talk) 09:50, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

The article originally gave BC/AD dating. Our whole system of time is based on Jesus' birth and using Before Common Era and Common Era is merely adding ambiguity. What makes an Era Common or Uncommon? It makes no sense. --Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (talk) 10:12, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
We are not going to argue with you about the relative merits of "BC" and "BCE" generally. Wikipedia's current style convention is to reserve BC/AD for explicitly Christian topics and use BCE/CE for other topics. If you wish to change this convention you are free to try, but not by edit-warring on individual articles. <eleland/talkedits> 14:09, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Wait a minute, I think I've been reading Conservapedia too much. Apparently we tolerate BC/AD if that was the originally used style. Pathetic, but what can you do. Edit-war away. <eleland/talkedits> 14:13, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

All people who have ever lived.

This article has no citation so I am going to delete it. There is no proof of how many people have ever lived on Earth. Another thing I would like to know is, is this site Wikipedia based on scientific fact or just speculation? Are there any rules as to what is considered fact? Any way of verifying information? Another thing is why is that when I present true information and people don't like it they delete it? Is this site based solely on consensus? If so how many people have to agree with you for you to post something? I am wondering this because I have edited a few articles with accurate information but because people had biases they didn't like the way the information was presented. How many people must agree with your edit in order for you to keep it? Are there any rules that somebody could show me, or do people just randomly delete your contributions? Thank You.Maldek (talk) 02:36, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

On the issue of all the people who lived, then the Carl Haub reference looks like a reliable source as much as any and so your deleting the whole section doesn't make sense as the citation required are not on what I would call contentious points. Wikipedia ultimately is based on reliable sources. These sources can have speculation but we make a call when a view looks to be fringe or biases the article by giving an undue weight to a minor view. The Vedic sources you mention maybe could be added except that to me the number you cited (10^303 people) times say 60 kg average mass would bizarrely nearly equate to the total mass of the known universe so it would appear to be fringe.
People don't randomly delete your edits. There usually is a reason unless they are just a drive-by vandal. For instance if we take your edit [5] as an example then it may look accurate but it has a number of flaws that caused it to be reverted,
  • it uses US date m/d/y format - Wikipedia is global in reach,
  • it breaks a reference (doesn't close a tag) and so totally trashes up all the references,
  • it uses a ridiculously accurate looking number and time for what can only ever be an estimate.
I reverted back to the original as it not only read better but the references have closed tags. There was nothing random at all. Ttiotsw (talk) 04:48, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

No Scientifc Proof of number of people who have ever lived

Since there is no scientific proof of how many people who have ever lived on Earth, who's guesses do we go bye. I know a lot of Vedic Sources that give the world population 5300 years ago to be over a Centillion (10^303)people, but that is not scientifically proven. I do not think we should put people's guesses about how many people have ever lived, because then we would have to allow people to put an unlimited amount of guesses from anyone. Who's guesses can we post, and why allow some guesses and not other's guesses of how many people who have ever lived?Maldek (talk) 02:42, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

The Carl Haub reference looks like a reliable enough source to keep the existing paragraphs. The Vedic number you cited (10^303 people) times say 60 kg average mass would probably exceeded the total mass of the known universe so it would appear to be fringe but if enough people believe such stuff then like any God, angel, fairy, we do have articles on these entities-without-any-scientific-proof. So we can add numbers like that as it is encyclopaedic but you'll have to provide a reference for that that we can trust as a reliable source (basically we can't have any old "guru" invent a number but we need the "guru-master" who says this number and is quoted by a reliable source e.g. its published in some press - not self-published etc etc etc. Ttiotsw (talk) 04:56, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Another way of seeing that the 10^303 number must be bogus is to assume that there a constant number of say 10 billion people in each generation. And 10 years between each generation. Then it would take (10^303 people*10 years/generation)/(10^10 people/generation)=10^294 years to arrive at this total number of people ever alive. All the numbers I have used here are estimateded to reduce the time needed, so better estimates will not help the case for 10^303. Now compare 10^294 with the age of Earth. (talk) 22:24, 29 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm just a guy who wandered around here, and I know nothing about all the theories or proof about estimating number of human who ever lived on Earth. However, I just think that even there're no scientific proof about this number, it's still okay to stay in this article as long as it tells readers to understand where's this number came from. (aka, how it been estimated.) Scientific simply can't proof everything. (talk) 20:42, 6 February 2009 (UTC)


I started making a navbox regarding human population and overpopulation. It is not finished, but take a look and feel free to help out: template:population. I am trying to keep it from snowballing into other topics. StevePrutz (talk) 02:26, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

I began filling in the blanks myself. Please take a look and post feedback. StevePrutz (talk) 00:34, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Year of 7 Billion

StevePrutz (talk) 23:35, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Accuracy of current population figures.

A few weeks back someone changed the figure in the lead to go from 2 to 9 digits of accuracy. Unlike the speed of light in a vacuum the actual human population can never be known to such an accurate figure given todays technology and societies. It can only ever be an estimate. We indicate an estimate in two ways, round off the higher resolution digits and/or show the digit as a mean with a percentage range, indicate an error/uncertainty percentage or show it as a range. Sticking in one accurate looking number without indicating the uncertainty is poor statistics. I propose that the population figure is rounded to nearest 100 Million i.e. 6.7 Billion and that we only ever bother to update it when the 100 Million ticks over to next number. Then we're just 1. something percent off (which is fine). Anyone who thus tries to change the figure to ridiculously accurate looking figures without also providing the actual percentage of uncertainty should be reverted as providing unreliable data. Ttiotsw (talk) 06:29, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, some of the estimates given are far to precise. At present, the first paragraph includes this sentence: "As of September 2008, the world's population is estimated to be just over 6.725 billion." Since the population is growing by several million each month, a number given to the nearest million is doubtful even if our estimate had no error. And and the first two websites cited show, estimates disagree by tens of millions of people. I'll return the number to two significant digits.Cephal-odd (talk) 20:45, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

distribution edits

Extended content

Hi there, i'm trying to resolve an editing dispute within this titled argument, however it appears i have come across a rather eager editor, who besides suggesting that I am partaking in an edit war and stating that I am not discussing the edit with himself and others who are reverting it but also seems to be working his way up from the graham's hierarchy of disagreement, rather than what he should be doing. here is how i have approached the disagreement:

A point I left on his discussion page

[edit] world population Dont be ridiculous. What does the second sentence say, indeed what is the whole article full of? Estimations, thats what! My point is to highlight the difference between the vastly overpopulatd regions of the earth to the areas which have low levels of population density, which, funnily enough, has everything to do with the distribution of the earths population, which is indeed the very relevant article it is in!! I have made the figures in correspondence to the latest statistics from the related wikipedia entries. I can further edit this or cite these values if this is where i have gone wrong. This is isn't analysis with a personal objective or ulterior motives, this is to highlight the highly skewed population distribution. You could at least make constructive criticism to my input rather than just completely ignoring it and myopically deleting it, just because you didn't create it. It's people like you who discourage the public from interacting and partcipating in this highly enjoyable and educating medium, which im sure has its attractions in that peopla can enjoy it that way. I'm pretty sure thats one of the 'pillars' of wikipedias foundations as well, to allow anyone to contribute, and to stimulate discussion on the websites articles, rather than ignorantly deleting new information. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rossg21 (talk • contribs) 11:56, 9 September 2008 (UTC

FYI, your edit has been removed because Wikipedia generally avoids editor-generated analysis. --Ckatzchatspy 09:49, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

[edit] Hmmm I'm trying to make a valid point in the world population article and leave some positive input. when it has been previously reverted, i am trying to instigate discussion on the matter whereas you are acting like a child and saying that you can edit 'just beacuse you can'!! thats a bit unreasonable is it not? and rather immature. I'd hate to think that the majority of editors on wikipedia behave like you. I don't think your behaviour is a part of the wikipedia ethos is it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rossg21 (talk • contribs) 12:37, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Now it is been suggested that i have started this edit war, can anyone suggest any reasonable help without me being banned from editing? This editor chris Kintetsubuffalo appears to be not allowing me to have my opinion and discuss it with him or others without fear of banishment.--argonorgan (talk) 13:31, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Please do not forumshop. Let's address the basic points at Wikipedia:Editor assistance/Requests#world population and the more specific points related to this article here. user:Everyme 13:38, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Estimated world population at various dates

I noticed that the source cited does not give the estimates provided on the table, but rather provides a range of estimates based on a number of scholarly sources, yet the table only provides one set of these numbers. In order for this table to be accurate, it would have to provide all the data provided by the Census Bureau, since that source does not provide definitive estimated, as presented here. Without objections I would like to rework the table to present the actual data as best as possible into something that is actually meaningful and accurate for the reader. Best, epicAdam(talk) 14:57, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree. I also think we should just write the numbers in as they are, as it can be confusing looking at 126 different sets of numbers and only having the little note at the top reminding you that they are meant to be "in thousands". JayKeaton (talk) 19:05, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
I, too, think thhousands is a bad choice. Millions, or individuals!--Noe (talk) 19:35, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
a consensus seems to be forming Zomputer (talk) 16:11, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Population density map

I can't see why the small country of El Salvador is emphasized in the map's discription the way it is, I wouldn't even consider Central America to be densely populated. Western Europe as a hole isn't either, which is why I'd add "the Blue Banana of" (or something like that, don't really like the concept) to the mention of Western Europe. Btw, does the coastal megalopolis to the northwest of the Gulf of Guinea have any specific name? --Axolotl Nr.733 (talk) 15:22, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Growth since when?

It would be an interesting fact to mention since when the world population has continually grown each year. E.g. was there a decline in the world population during one of the World Wars? --Roentgenium111 (talk) 16:02, 16 October 2008 (UTC)