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How will we survive when the population hits 10 billion? | Charles C. Mann

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By 2050, an estimated 10 billion people will live on earth. How are we going to provide everybody with basic needs while also avoiding the worst impacts of climate change? In a talk packed with wit and wisdom, science journalist Charles C. Mann breaks down the proposed solutions and finds that the answers fall into two camps -- wizards and prophets -- while offering his own take on the best path to survival. Check out more TED Talks: http://www.ted.com The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. Follow TED on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TEDTalks Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED Subscribe to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/TED
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Text Comments (3439)
HDXBear (2 days ago)
Birth control good place to start
Bison Days (3 days ago)
YO U R POPULATION IS IN DECLINE SO WHY YOU WANNA KNOW !?
Celina K (3 days ago)
Simple; eat the rich, drown the poor
Celina K (3 days ago)
8:25 people don't like that they're patented or the possibility they might be 10:28 should have used thorium instead 10:45 good idea No mention of seaweed, duckweed or purple sweet potatoes? Well I guess tubers count
Conrad Wolf (4 days ago)
My wife and I are in the 40-50 group and enjoying life. No kids cause we didn't (and still don't) want them. We couldn't care less what happens to the planet after 2060. :) As for this quack, he forgets the main difference between protozoa and humans. Protozoa are all equal. Humans are not. The West, which discusses the ways to save our species and living in harmony with the planet has roughly 1.3 billion people. China, India, the rest of Asia and Africa, and Brazil and the rest of the poor countries in Latin America have a population of 6.3 billion, and they are (mentally) at the stage where the West was 3,000 years ago - eat and breed, eat and breed, eat and breed. Nigeria has gone from 46 million people in 1960 to 200 million (a staggering a growth of 435%) in just 60 years. Not to mention China, India, Indonesia, Brazil - all f*ing backward places with huge populations and no real plan, no real hope. Even if the West figures out ways to save humans, there are too many humans on this planet who will make sure that plan fails. The only way to save humans is to stop all immigration from undeveloped countries and have free trade agreements amongst the top 40 countries in the world, excluding the other 160 from it. Let them connect, if they want, and see if their block can survive. I would bet my last dollar on the Block of 40 against the Block of 160.
Tom Harris (4 days ago)
I thought he might have said something
pops tops (5 days ago)
the human species has always had a finite time to exist.we will go the way of the dinosours,then earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas,and carry on its merry way until the sun eats her up,the end>
SunsetGalore (6 days ago)
Every individual should only be able to have one child. This needs to be enforced desperately. Why is everyone saying 'uuuuhhh EvErVyOnE sHoUlD OnLy hAvE 2'? To maintain 7 billion? Lets cut it in half and maintain that. 3.5 billion and everyone can have two kids.
feelmd ks (6 days ago)
Easterns should stop giving birth up to 3 kids and then come to west and expect from our goverment to feed them. You see middle eastern families having 5-6 kids like rabbits... and get benefit for each kid.
BFDT (7 days ago)
THE ANSWER IS: STOP MAKING BABIES. Really. Not kidding.
BFDT (7 days ago)
At 10 billion, the natural world in so many places will be replaced with our and our slave species biomass. There won't be enough room or resources for any other biomass, except of course, for the bacteria. The bacteria is the predator of 10 billion. Watch.
Oscar Maximo (7 days ago)
Hi, for example, here in Portugal: We are going to reduce fossil emissions and build another airport. F*ck Lavoisier.
Callum Lueders (7 days ago)
WOW. This. video. really. fuucked me up How am i going to argue with a SCIENCE JOURNALIST that he's saying toblerone wrong?!?!?!?! MY LIFES A LIE
Kriegtime101 (7 days ago)
Nuclear power is only safe in terms of the newest technology.
Kathy Coleman (8 days ago)
In the year 2525 If man is still alive, If woman can survive, They may find...
Mark Caseon (9 days ago)
Interplanetary colonization is a way to solve overpopulation.
Callum Lueders (7 days ago)
No. Not correct. The cost of colonising another planet and transporting millions (if not billions) of people would be much more expensive than fixing earth. And ethically it would be much worse than telling people to stop eating meat on Mondays or to stop using cars 3 days a week too as the people involved in the colonisation would be like how the British empire built Australia (x10)
green house (9 days ago)
the answer is world war 3. war is the best way to reduce population.
Callum Lueders (7 days ago)
orabigfatnuke
Sam Crone (9 days ago)
This is just Malthus economics it has already been disproved
D Roe (10 days ago)
This is one of the biggest non-issues people get all up in arms about. Less than half of the planet's land mass is developed, and we produce enough food for double the current global population. Between waste and stupid over regulations, stupidly huge amounts of food are thrown away every day. 10B is nothing. Given current farming technologies, we can easily support far more than 10B people.
Pieter Steenekamp (10 days ago)
Nah, I don't buy this scaremongering. Since Malthus two centuries ago there have been many doomsdayers and all were proved spectacularly wrong every time. Not? Old-timers like me remember all the predictions of the 1970's that we are going to run out of resources by the end of the 20th century. They were all spectacularly wrong. When Malthus preached doom, nobody had the answers, human ingenuity solved the problems and we have been better off all the way. Nobody has the answers now, but human ingenuity just got better and the pace of solving problems is faster than ever. Obviously there are ultimate limits to resources, but we are very far from those limits. For practical purposes we need an energy miracle, as per Bill Gates' definition of a miracle (www.gatesnotes.com/Energy/Energy-Miracles). With abundant clean energy and developments in AI and bio-technology, the sky's the limit. If you wish to worry and it makes you happy, please do it. Personally I'm not worried at all. We have been doing much better than protozoa, I don't foresee that human ingenuity will stop.
man of Christ (11 days ago)
Billions will be coming back with him.
man of Christ (11 days ago)
Jesus!
Mike (12 days ago)
There's something wrong about this. He suggests we can survive an outbreak, but really we can't.
Oscar Maximo (13 days ago)
He is wrong about protozoa on petri dish. What is observed is that the previous last generation will resort to canibalism.
Michael Cole (14 days ago)
5:48 Anyone else see the guy sleeping? Lol
Daniel Balan (14 days ago)
the western world guilt tripping the western wold about overpopulation, yet China and India alone account for 3 billion people, more or less. How stupid can you people be? Not to me mention the influx of migrants from Africa that tend to have at least 3 children. Yet the western world is the one that needs to get their act together.....Why do I never see an Indian or some Chinese guy talking about this? no. It's always some white bitter dude who scares stupid compassionate people into not reproducing.
Vlad Tepesh (14 days ago)
Looking forward to seeing human logistics hitting its ceiling, and the fallout.
Andre Abreu (14 days ago)
Yawn
Arnold.J. Meijer (16 days ago)
If we, the West, continue to pour into our countries third world trash, supporting them with aid, food and medicins, our world will be destroyed. So STOP doning that! And lets think about ourselfs!
Daniel De Lauretis (17 days ago)
we wont. the end of this TED.
rakzr (18 days ago)
Trump wants to chisel you into the wall.
Tronald Dump (18 days ago)
bring me THANOS!
Leopoldo Astudillo (19 days ago)
Stop fornicating!!!
JoachimderZweite (21 days ago)
Why not face it calmly - we are screwed and we have passed the tipping point. My only consolation is it comes for the rich too though they may last a little longer.
Jonathan Sze (22 days ago)
Thanos 50%
João de Carvalho (23 days ago)
Wizard vs. Prophets is like Edward Bellamy vs. William Morris in their late 19th century utopias: "Looking Backward: 2000–1887" and "News from Nowhere".
Mahersay (25 days ago)
Why does this have only 1/2 a million? Share this now! This is exactly what he was saying, people need to be aware of the edge of the Petri dish and the solutions we need to push for.
MDM (25 days ago)
It's tough to get 5 people to agree on what to get on a pizza. We are not going to get 9 million to agree on anything.
wolfaww (25 days ago)
perry brought me here
Pocket Monkey (25 days ago)
Who’s down for the 10 billion subscriber special
Myusuf05 (25 days ago)
Thanos will stop by
Out of Many, One. (26 days ago)
Thanos is gonna snap his fingers duh
Rearsky (29 days ago)
Could survive fine if we didn't distribute resources with the intellectual might of a sack of potatoes.
Kevin Neely (29 days ago)
Mann co.
Lê Thị Nhàn (29 days ago)
People actually think having less kids will save the earth. I disagree. Today with mordern science we should be able to survive for millions of years. I can say governments are corrupt and want to control society. And has already with taken a shift, especially with technology and social media. Were all programmed and gullible. The fact is we barely know anything about earth as a whole . We can stop and nip half the problems in society to move fowards if we stick together as human race.
Grommsh (29 days ago)
I feel like he is missing the one thing that makes humanity different than a protozoa stuck in a petri dish, and that's the fact that we have the capability to move to an endless amount of dishes. There's an entire universe filled with enough resources to last humanity billions upon billions of years, and yet the enthusiasm to go out and claim it is not there. There is at least 25 times more water out in our solar system than there is on the entire earth. Solar panels in space could collect a near limitless amount of energy to power the entire planet. Orbital agricultural hubs that are there to purely grow large amounts of food without damaging the ecosystem of the planet could be built. Mining operations on other stellar bodies would make it so that we do not have to continue to dig into our own for building materials and precious metals. Our real solutions to saving the people on this planet, lie outside of the planet. And only once people start caring about it and funding it, will it happen.
T1337P (30 days ago)
we get rid of the radical religious people, and there we go, only 2billion pop left. Problem solved
inferno (30 days ago)
Easily.
brandon alger (30 days ago)
Can i do the public speaking for you next time mate. Your points are valid but the delivery is shocking
charles mcdowell (30 days ago)
Nice nuke commercial.
Zackidoo Zacoou (30 days ago)
Bs
Clayton Smith (30 days ago)
Could we just put the Japanese in charge, please?
richard lin (5 days ago)
Sushi
Crystal Ball (13 days ago)
Last time they tried to get in charge, they got nuked.
Ameer Faithullah (30 days ago)
We have feminism now, we won't hit 10 billion
Kay Kay (30 days ago)
I was really hoping the answer was cannibalism...
Graham Kettles (1 month ago)
We dont, we all DIE along with all the animals we've taken with the planet. We are not needed on this planet for it to survive, but we need it for our own survival. It's simply a humanist problem not a problem with the planet. So once global extinction happens, the planet wont be concerned about climate change because we're the cause and effect of that platform.
Soul Assassin (1 month ago)
Mass killing to help balance this.
Dan O'reilly (1 month ago)
We need a new plague - Dwight K Schrute
Ben Ferguson (1 month ago)
More people need to be having fewer or no children.
Steven Martin (1 month ago)
Mad Max Beyond the Thunder Dome style gladiator matches? Deathball? DCU movies...? Pick your poison. 😉
Pretty Prudent (1 month ago)
We may as well fill up this planet...Why not?
Florence P (1 month ago)
EASY: give women their full reproductive rights. Abortion available everywhere, free contraception, no more child brides, no kidnapping, no rapes, no social pressure to have kids. And you will see the population decrease FAST. It's men who want children, not women. And men know that if women are in charge of their fertility they will want less kids or no kids at all. they're terrified of that of course. So basically the patriarchy needs to be abolished. Obviously men don't want that.
Knucklia Assphuck (1 month ago)
More land.. More farm more food. More people. More cars, more houses more planet more land more farm more people
Knucklia Assphuck (1 month ago)
I don't understand.. Population is declining in developed countries..Who are the people making babies :D
Justin McGonigle (1 month ago)
Permaculture.
Tony Dinh (1 month ago)
Easy make war!
EaST CoAsT MaCHete (1 month ago)
By that time we're all be nothing but dust.
Why So Serious? (1 month ago)
Move all the immigrants back to there own countries where they can kill each other off and keep the numbers in check... bringing them to western countries they breed like cockroaches...
Don DoDat (1 month ago)
Sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense, with the pace that Chinese are duplicating, soon we will have 12 billion people within next 5 years. There are 2 billion Chinese in China and 2 billion outside of the China. When we count Chinese we count them as only 2 billion in the China ( big fucking mistake ) , right there you add back another 2 billion to what the number of the population is right now. Also these 4 billion on average will duplicate to 8 billion , so add to that to the rest of the population and , obviously it will be lot lot more than 10 billion. 😀😀 Oh , did I tell you that I was math major, that’s why I add the numbers correctly. Lol
Curtis LaForce (1 month ago)
We need Thanos now more than ever
davidsbeast1 (1 month ago)
Move to Mars also asteroid mining. If we can become a space fairing race then we would we would never want for anything again. The whole universe will be our home. NASA needs 10x the funding it has
Eli Feldmann (1 month ago)
TED talks are lit and no one can tell me otherwise
Oliver Sonmez (1 month ago)
Are we going to start looking for those infinity stones??
Jesse Day (1 month ago)
Lat time I put Protozoa in a CE, they started multiple rivaling and equally violent religions. Population problem solved
jim harring (1 month ago)
I can’t wait till we hit 20 billion in 2100
Vincent Rizzi (1 month ago)
Thanos
Jean Daniel Desrosiers (1 month ago)
Canibalism solves world hunger and overpopulation... Just sayin
sawnhill G (1 month ago)
Cannibalism.! World hunger : gone Over population: gone
I AM Pharaoh (1 month ago)
Now let populate the oceans?
Randall Smith (1 month ago)
Prophet vs. Wizard
Matthew Crump (1 month ago)
This guy needs to hit the blunt one time and see if it doesn't change his perspective
Mr. Burns (1 month ago)
Where's Thanos when you need him?
Ciara McCarthy (1 month ago)
Or, you know demographic transition happens like it has done with all developed countries, this stabilising population growth.
Tlasan Dukats (1 month ago)
2 things. 1. Climate change is a lie. The planet has always gone through cycles. We can never prevent it. 2. Gmo crops have been proven that they can cause cancer in lab rats in several studies.
WOLF DICE (1 month ago)
It’s fundamentally impossible to stop our overpopulation because you can not convince everyone to help. If one million people construct social structures that benefit our longevity what is to say that structure will not be taken advantage of by one thousand people. Back in the 1980’s during the huge stock market boom, an prime example of human nature was revealed. One person had the power to make billions of dollars by doing a market takeover, which cut out many of people from profits, and shut down major companies forcing hundreds of people out of a job and most of the company lies with one man meaning the company has to buy back shares. Well that one man now has the leverage of bringing a company to its financial knees. That company took over forty years to build up and was stripped away of all its assets by one man. Who is to say one man will not find a way to exploit the overpopulation plan.
Michel Sakakini (1 month ago)
We are So... Fucked
S Blaise (1 month ago)
Call Gandalf. He knows the solution ! Great speech, without any pictures or powerpoint what usually people do, I could imagine everything what he said.
Matthew Ng (1 month ago)
Population will go down soon. Trumps going to start ww3
Great Spirit (1 month ago)
We will have to resort to wisdom filled and non-violent (imposed from outside) form of population control. The replacement rate is two children per couple. In some groups, the fertility rate exceeds five children per couple. This is unacceptable. We will lose our planet to the indiscretions of humans.
Serslystrong (1 month ago)
One day we will have to vote on limiting children per family
Tmike Sierra (1 month ago)
Thorium salt reactors are the solution to our energy problem and the problem with implementing them is one group is afraid of all things nuke and the other makes profits off the current energy offerings
Systematik (1 month ago)
Not having kids is my contribution. Stopping the bloodline right here! :-D
Ryan Vance (1 month ago)
This guy looks like he sleeps with his eyes open.
rain dog (1 month ago)
10 billion wow isnt the plan to downsize before all the normal joe jobs get taken over by A.I if I were you get smart and get smart fast and look good too
Ronald Garrison (1 month ago)
An impressively precise rendition of a carefully crafted speech. But it has no conclusions or recommendations. Well, what do you expect from a self-described, confirmed cynic? I have no grand, sweeping answers for the whole problem. But I can affirm a few solid, partial conclusions: 1. We are NOT protozoa. It is a plain fact that some major trends are turning in the right direction, starting with that old shibboleth, population. I don't know how commentators like Mann can say, with a straight face, there is nothing being done. There's a mountain of facts that say otherwise. 2. The wizards/prophets dichotomy is useful, but insufficient. The answers that end up working will resemble both of those visions at important points, but only partially. 3. Not all wizards are big on nukes. I'd say I lean heavily to the wizards side, but I see little future for nukes. The Nuclear Renaissance isn't happening. If it ever does, it will be in a totally different form. Maybe in space. Down here, the economics just don't work. The very nature of the technology means that everything needs to be huge, and in small numbers. 4. Small, modular nukes? 250 MW is not what I call small. GMAB. 5. Social movements and international agreements are not the answer here, any more than a contract is a substitute for trust and a solid track record. 6. The free market, left to its own devices, is not anything like a full answer either. There has to be adult supervision, now more than ever. BTW at 9:38 Mann says fossil fuel use increases by 30% per year, which is obviously ridiculous. But other than that, the choreography is almost perfect.
Dank (1 month ago)
so, basically... we need to learn how to stop being an outbreak species, because we are smart enough to know, but doing... different ballgame. we're so fucked hah
Mendel S17 (1 month ago)
If we get rid of islamism we can just tell them Allah willed it. #jokingdontsayIsupportmurder
Bob (1 month ago)
Charles C Mann speaks directly at the problem . as for example . shown when hunters and conservationists clash . both parties are interested in saving the animals and their habitat but both HATE each other . even though most other people could not care less about the animals or their habitat . So it is NOT the Conservationists who are "wrong" or the Hunters who are "wrong"... the ones who are "wrong" ... are those who do not know what is happening ... and the results of not knowing what is happening are obvious and self evident ... but (chances are).... it wont be ME ..... because I know and also ..... because I am a Hunter
Maikol (1 month ago)
And now I give you another parameter. Things that human individuals tend to sacrifice for more wealth. And (if it is even possible) if one entiry country agreed on working together on this matter, then see the country as an individual in the world market. The country prioritized long term future above short term wealth will lose ground. This is the fundamental problem. Utilizing this system though, is also our only hope. That is where we have to focus on right now. Make long term future the biggest measure (and reward) for short term wealth. How? I don't know.
David G (1 month ago)
Is that Steven King??
Happie Our (1 month ago)
trust your GOD! just surrender to GOD plans. zionist agenda to creates worry about birth, birth is beauty given.
NAMSOV (1 month ago)
He looks like a ghoul from Fallout 4. Interesting talk though!

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