Ten thousand years ago, there were only 10 million humans on the planet; it took until 1800 AD to reach our first billion. But by 1960, we managed our third billion, and in the mere halfcentury since then, we’ve added four more. In an eyeblink, in geological terms, humans have gone from being just another species of large apes to one of utter global ubiquity.
Dr Hans Rosling, the Swedish presenter of Don’t Panic: the Truth About Population (BBC Two), wanted us – obviously – not to panic. We are not going to run out of the room imminently, he said, and the situation is righting itself.