Posts Tagged ‘Ecology’

Watch Human Population Growth Through Time

November 6, 2016

It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer babies on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?

Biggest Walrus Gathering Recorded as Sea Ice Shrinks

October 5, 2014

Scientists have photographed the largest gathering of Pacific walruses ever recorded, on a beach in northern Alaska.

mass-walrus-gathering

It’s hardly the first big walrus gathering to be documented. But scientists say the size of the gatherings are growing as climate change melts Arctic sea ice, depriving walruses of their sunning platforms of choice.

As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral. Since the late 1970s, the ice has retreated by 12 percent per decade. Learn more here.

World population will continue to rise

September 22, 2014

When it comes to the party that is planet Earth, we might need to plan for a few extra guests, according to scientists. A new statistical projection concludes that the world population is unlikely to level off during the 21st century, leaving the planet to deal with as many as 13 billion human inhabitants—4 billion of those in Africa—by 2100.

World population graph

Learn more here.

Earth’s Land Mammals by Weight

March 7, 2014

land_mammals

Where 2% of Australia’s Population Lives

September 13, 2013

Australia has a population of over 23 million people. 98% of them live near the coast …

where-2-percent-of-australia-lives

Earth’s Population by Latitude and Longitude

September 1, 2013

China and India really sway it.

the-worlds-population-by-latitue-and-longitude

Disproportionate global population visualised

June 9, 2013

This image says it all …

Populatiom distribution

Thanks to Birds we have no more Giant Bugs

July 17, 2012

Sure, they provide the soundtrack of spring and are often lovely to look at. But a new study may offer the best reason yet to appreciate birds: the general absence of gigantic insects from our daily lives.

Today insects are among the smallest creatures on Earth, but about 300 million years ago, huge bugs were fairly common. The dragonfly-like griffinfly, for example, had a wingspan of about 70 centimetres—a little bit smaller than a crow’s. Today’s widest-winged insects are butterfly and moth species that span about a foot (30 centimeters).

The prehistoric bugs’ incredible growth was fueled by an atmosphere that was more than 30 percent oxygen, compared with 21 percent today, experts say. The extra oxygen gave bugs more energy per breath, allowing them to power bigger bodies.

But things changed about 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, when the first birds appeared alongside dinosaurs. After birds took to the skies, winged insects stopped growing bigger—even as oxygen levels rose.

As to why the big bugs might have fallen to birds, the maneuverability of any sort of flying thing really scales with size. Small things are much more maneuverable than large things. In other words, large insects may have been easy targets. Another possibility is that birds may simply have eaten the big bugs’ lunch. The birds may have m0re successfully competed for food sources.

The largest insects today could perhaps be three times as large as they currently are, based on current oxygen levels – hip, hip, hooray for birds!!! Learn more here.

Humanity weighs in at 287 million tonnes

July 15, 2012

Humanity weighs more than 5400 Titanics. Biologists have calculated the total mass of all humans living on Earth, which they say is a better way of measuring our impact on the planet than simply counting our numbers.

Scientists used 2005 data on body mass index (BMI) and average height to work out the average body mass of people for each country. By factoring in population data, they calculated that the total adult population weighed 287 million tonnes. The true figure is larger – as they did not include children – and will grow over the coming decades. Learn more here.

The World’s Population Density, Visualised

June 22, 2012

It’s difficult to get a handle on the population density around the world. Fortunately, this visualisation makes it a little easier to get your head round it.

Put together by Derek Watkins, it’s actually interactive: you get to use a slider to shift the population density and see it change before your eyes. You should head to his website to try it out for yourself. The image above shows the areas around the world that house five people per square mile or more.