• Sites answer 300 million questions
     | October 22,2006

    The population of the United States supposedly surpassed 300 million on Tuesday. (Doesn't it seem a little more crowded lately?) Let's take a look at the national and global numbers game on the Web.


    You can see the current U.S. and world populations at any time by looking at the real-time counters in the upper right corner of the bureau's home page.

    The U.S. counter works on this formula: one birth every seven seconds, one death every 13 seconds and one international migrant every 31 seconds for a net gain of one person every 11 seconds.

    Among the many cool features at the site is the American FactFinder (factfinder.census.gov), which includes a search box to get an instant census fact sheet for your community simply by entering the ZIP code.

    www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/ worldpop

    David Levine's real-time world-population counter (a Java applet) has a neat twist: the ability to enter any calendar date since 1970 and see historical figures. For example, there were 3.91 billion people in the world on Jan. 1, 1970. Today, we're at 6.65 billion.

    You can set the calendar forward, too, and get projected data.

    According to it, unless something drastic happens, the world population will be at 10.4 billion on Dec. 31, 2037, the calendar's highest future date.


    The Population Reference Bureau reminds us that the United States is only the third country, after China and India, to have at least 300 million people.

    The site is more news-oriented than others, even including a recent Webcast symposium on how the United States has changed since its population was 200 million, in 1967.

    www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ worldbalance

    Nova's World in the Balance Web site, based on the PBS TV program, explores how the world is affected by population changes.

    For example, while the United States has reached the 300 million mark, North America holds only 5 percent of the world's people.

    Using the site's interactive Human Numbers Through Time feature, you can see that 50 years from now, most of the world's growth will have occurred in developing countries, "where the demand for food and water already outstrips supplies," it says.


    If overpopulation seems depressing, consider the radical views of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT, pronounced "vehement"). Its motto: "May we live long and die out." How to do it? Stop breeding. Right now.

    You might ask, "Are they really serious?" The site addresses that, too. "Many see humor in the movement and think we can't be serious about voluntary human extinction," it says, "but in spite of the seriousness of both situation and movement, there's room for humor."

    To that end, it has several professionally produced cartoons pushing its agenda.

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