US: As the world population touches seven billion – an increase of one billion since 1999 – Canadian anthropologist Felix Pharand created a series of maps which is based on satellite images. They depict some of the impacts of this vast human upheaval.
Using data from a range of sources, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the World Meteorological Organization, the images depict a sprawl of air traffic routes, the underwater cables that carry the internet, road and rail networks, pipelines, shipping lanes and electricity transmission lines.
“These images are illustrations of how far we have come at transforming our home planet,” said Pharand, who is founder-director of Globaia — an environmental education organisation based in Quebec. “It shows a human-dominated planet where wilderness areas are shrinking and where the habitats of other species are decreasing in size,” he added.
According to the UN Population Fund, it took the whole of human history until the early 19th century to reach a population of one billion people, and it was not until 1927 that the figure doubled to two billion.
Now, the UN calculates that the global population will reach nine billion by 2050 and, by the end of the century, it says there could be up to 16 billion people on the planet.