Population clock ticking

Brian Brown, ReporterWhile I was still a student at Missouri State, I saw a video that scared the life out of me. I don’t remember the name, or even the class where I saw it (Biology 101, perhaps?), but I remember well its effect.

The video was seven minutes long. It featured a map of the world and white dots that represented 1 million people each. Every few seconds or so, the map with dots changed to represent a new century. The video started with a map that represented the world’s population beginning several thousands of years ago. Even at the beginning, Europe, China and India had a smattering of white dots.

For six-and-a-half minutes nothing much happened. A couple of dots would appear here there, but the population was fairly stable. When it got into 1600, 1700 and beyond, the world map lit up like a flashlight. The point was clear: human population is growing, and growing within a world that is not getting any bigger.

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released an updated version of its population clock, said to be one of the most popular features on its website, Census.gov.

At the time I write this, the world’s population is nearing 7.08 billion, increasing just as fast as I would count “five, six, seven, eight,” with no end in sight. The U.S. population growth is more muted, but with one person born every 8 seconds and a death every 12 seconds, there is a net gain of one person every 14 seconds.

According to a news release, the enhanced clock provides the public “with a quick and interactive overview of the population in the United States and the world, and now it also can be shared, downloaded and embedded on other websites.” The release is said to coincide with the beginning of the Population Association of America’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

As part of the new features, the clock provides an age and sex population pyramid and a graph showing the population of U.S. regions. It also allows users to see how the U.S. population has changed over time, but disappointingly, it only goes back three years. In case you were wondering, the U.S. population was 308.8 million on this date in 2010. Today, it is just under 315.7 million, an increase of 2.2 percent.

According to the world ranking feature, China has the largest population of any country in the world at 1.35 billion, followed by India at 1.22 billion, with the U.S. ranking third.

California is the most populous state at just more than 38 million – that’s 244 people per square mile.

The projections are based on monthly population estimates starting with the April 1, 2010, count derived from the 2010 Census, according to the release. Data for the world population estimates are drawn from the Census Bureau’s International Data Base.

Often, as part of my job, I’ll hear people talk about government regulations and their effect on businesses. As the world’s population continues to grow, and resources become more scarce, I can’t help but think my children and yours will live in an evermore regulated world.

If you are a numbers geek like me, check out the site. It has a lot of helpful information, even if it can be somewhat alarming to consider.


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