At present we share our planet with some 7.5 billion other human beings, and as swollen as that number may already sound, it is projected to hit 10 billion before levelling off sometime around the middle of the century.
Global population may never scale the vertiginous peaks foreseen in the panicky neo-Malthusian literature of the mid-20th century, chiefly Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s famous jeremiad of 1968, The Population Bomb. Nor will overpopulation’s effects, as they fold back against the cities of the global north, much resemble the apocalyptic depictions in the era’s pop culture; 1973’s Soylent Green, for example, opens with a title card informing the viewer that 40 million souls reside in the smog-choked New York City of 2022, and that seems more than a little hard to imagine now. But neither is it a state of affairs one can dismiss casually. Every last one of those 10 billion human beings is going to need a place to live.
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