Envisioning a more open world: an exercise

May 10, 2021 by Joshua
in Exercises, Nature

Here’s an exercise I’ve enjoyed playing around with.

I’ve written in other posts that the sustainable population of the Earth is 3.7 billion. I’ve read other reports that it’s more like 2 billion. The number depends on the standard of living we choose, how much we wreck the Earth on the way to sustainability (it could go to zero), and other factors.

I don’t know why people want a bigger population. Everyone knows it has to level off at some number. Why choose 10 billion over 2 billion? By 2 billion we had Einstein and Mozart. By a few hundred million we had Buddha and Jesus. I’d love to live in a world with 2 billion people in it.

The exercise: Imagine a world with 2 billion people

Next time you’re in traffic, waiting in line, or hearing someone make too much noise, like the person without the muffler I hear outside, imagine living in a world with 2 billion people. Forget about how to get there, this is your imagination. If you can imagine flying or going back in time, you can imagine this situation.

When was the last time you got away from everyone, heard no human sounds, saw no human constructions, and so on? I’m not saying we can’t have as many people, just not all at once. Imagine the opposite of this picture, not a space empty of people but with a comfortable density:


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