So I wanted to share with you something positive, fun and interesting. Three things actually, that give me hope for humanity.
The rate of population growth is slowing
The birth rate is slowing and eventually will start to drop. While following links to see where they will lead, you know, serendipity, I found a really cool article about world population growth on Slate. The article goes into some real depth exploring the trends of our population growth. The most interesting finding is this nugget here:
A somewhat more arcane milestone, meanwhile, generated no media coverage at all: It took humankind 13 years to add its 7 billionth. That’s longer than the 12 years it took to add the 6 billionth—the first time in human history that interval had grown. (The 2 billionth, 3 billionth, 4 billionth, and 5 billionth took 123, 33, 14, and 13 years, respectively.) In other words, the rate of global population growth has slowed. And it’s expected to keep slowing. Indeed, according to experts’ best estimates, the total population of Earth will stop growing within the lifespan of people alive today.The growth of the world population is slowing. Eventually it will stop growing and go in reverse. Birthrates around the world are already shrinking. By 2200, the world population is projected to fall by half. The biggest and most breathtaking cause of this decline in birth rates? Education.
Educate girls and they get interested in careers, delaying childbearing until they are planted in their careers. As the world becomes more educated, girls grow up into women with a job and a family, but it's a smaller family.
A great example of this education comes from MTV show, 16 and Pregnant. CNN has documented how birth rates declined by simply showing adolescents what life is like if you're 16 and pregnant. And that is just one example. The more we educate our kids, the better choices they will make for themselves and the planet.
Why is this so important? Because human habitation of the earth has done more damage to it than the worst nuclear power plant accident. With a smaller population we can leave a better world for our kids.
Solar power is trending in a big way
Solar City just introduced solar panels with 22% efficiency. And they're not the only company to introduce greater efficiency in solar panels. Industry wide, solar power efficiency has been on an inexorable trend towards lower costs, greater efficiency and better access for a decade. Trends all around solar power are positive.
Cost per watt of installed capacity are falling below $3. Panel efficiencies are rising. Inverter manufacturers are taking notice and building capacity to meet demand and increase efficiencies. Inverters allow your home to accept the DC power from the solar panels and converts the current to AC power at rough 95% efficiencies.
Banks are taking notice, too. They are working to capture the solar power loan market and all the subsidies that go with solar power installations. This market is already taking off. Solar power went from rare to occasional. In a decade or less, solar power will be a requirement, not an option when choosing a home to buy, so sellers get ready.
The internet is becoming the common consciousness of humanity
Never before have we seen a technology bring the world together. The internet has fomented a literacy revolution. More people are reading today than ever before. Kids are learning to type just to be able to use the internet. I took a typing class in high school and thought I'd be a sheet metal worker, never thinking I'd need to know how to type. Now I'm glad I got it. Kids are reading, typing and learning on the internet.
It's not just the kids, too. Adults are finding work that uses the internet. I myself have a job where I use the internet everyday to connect to customers and assist them with their computers. It is actually becoming difficult to find a job that does not require use of email, a browser and a network. Unless you want to do landscaping. Well, even then, if you run a landscaping business, you need the internet to promote it.
We have witnessed an explosion of content, sharing of information and discourse like we've never seen before, too. 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Here is a page of stats on the internet. We've gone from just a few users in 1995 (I got started in 1993), to 3.2 billion today.
Everything on the internet has an IP address. That is, an Internet Protocol address. There are two versions of IP in use today, IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 is a 32-bit addressing system that provides for more than 4 billion addresses. We've run out of the address space that's been allocated to the United States. Other countries are bound to report the same thing soon.
So the engineers came up with IPv6, a 128-bit addressing system. How many addresses are available with that? According to Wikipedia, approximately 3.4×1038 addresses, or more than 7.9×1028 times as many as IPv4. With IPv6, we're not going to run out of addresses for the foreseeable future.
The internet allows for everything to be connected, for people to communicate, share, and participate in political discourse. The internet has been a bonding force for humanity like no other. It has no borders, no owner, no end.
A connected world, with a smaller, more educated population, using solar power for all the energy we could ever want. That gives me hope for humanity.