How many individuals could there be on earth?

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Revision as of 19:31, 25 October 2008 by M2231665 (talk | contribs) (length of a human generation is about 25 years (currently))
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The question of how many individuals there may be in a generation certainly depends on the civilization, on how things are done. Often - in terms of all people, not just one generation - this is discussed in terms of the carrying capacity (click here for Wikipedia article with several references).

The number of individuals in one generation may be in the order of a billion people, maybe 100 million or a bit less, maybe 10 billion or a little more. The total number of people on the planet at any time will be higher, as several generations overlap.

One can also add time. How many generations could there be? Unless someone finds a way to move it, the planet will certainly become uninhabitable at the latest in about 5 billion years. That would leave room for millions of generations, about two hundered million, at the current length of a human generation.

The number of individuals on this planet might thus be in the order of a hundred million billion or 10 to the 17th (100 000 000 000 000 000).

Time matters. The number would have about seven zeros less if civilization can not find a way to continue. Reducing the assumed number of individuals alive in one generations from 1 billion (people in India) to 10 million (Delhi) only takes away two zeros, increasing it from 1 billion to 10 billion only adds one.

Managing to move elsewhere would seem to increase the number of individuals anywhere considerably, as the number of potentially suitable planets in the milky way galaxy might itself be in the order of many billions. It would probably conflict with the ability of life to develop there in its own right, though, so might not increase the number of possible individuals much.