Category Archives: International

Do We Have Space for Seven Billion People?

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WE are now seven billion, the United Nations tells us. Columnists and commentators are extremely frustrated over the news. They are speculating about the imminent collapse of resources that such a continuing population bulge will bring about. The limited space on our earth is simply not sufficient for the kind of numbers we are producing every year, they say.

Really?

Let’s measure these arguments using basic math that Dean Esmay used in his Overcrowded Planet?.

New York is acclaimed as a beautiful city. It is one of the most popular (and populous) tourist destinations of the world. In 469 square miles of its area, 166 sq mi is water and 305 sq mi is land. With 8 million people residing in the city, its population density is 27,500 per square mile. The land area includes parks, sporting arenas, museums, libraries, universities, factories, airports, amusement parks, hotels, and shopping centers.

So, 27,500 people per square mile. That’s how crowded New York City is.

Now imagine if every one of the seven billion people – the entire world population – were to be settled evenly in the whole of the United States. What would the population density be?

The US of A has a total area of about 3,800,000 square miles. A simple division will give you: 1,842 people per square mile.

Surprised?

Let’s do something local. Let’s move the entire seven billion to our Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia (Area: ~274,000 sq mi). What would our population density be?

25,500 people per square mile. Less crowded than New York City with space for all amenities and facilities found in a modern state.

There you go! The world population is comfortably packed in the green area. Now we have the rest of the world for everything else.

Did I hear the earth is not enough? Subhan Allah!

“…So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.” (Qur’an, 23:14)

“…and Allah’s earth is spacious.” (Qur’an, 39:10)

Who will provide?

“And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We shall provide for them as well as for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.” (Qur’an, 17:31) 

Wealth and poverty

According to this study, the richest 2 percent own more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth. The richest 10 percent own 85 percent of global assets.

If Zakat were to be universally applied (distributing 2.5% of the excess wealth of the rich among the poor), there would be no poverty at all.

The top 10 wealthiest people of America are said to have $1.53 trillion in assets. If only 2.5% of that amount ($38 billion) were to be used in providing three meals a day (according toAmerican standard of living), over 30 million people in the US can be fed for an entire year.

There is certainly nothing wrong with some getting richer than the others. But if everyone had access to basic necessities of life and some money to spend, it would not only improve the lives of the poor, but also invigorate economic activity.

However, not everyone is interested in helping the poor.

And before we Muslims follow suit and write off poor communities as unworthy burdens on earth, we should look at history, our history.

The Islamic civilization, superpowers of the world for over 1,300 years, sprouted from an unlettered, backward and written-off community living in the middle of a desert.

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