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Technology and the History of World Population


We know from the technology equation:

inventions= population (time)2.

Population changes over time are therefore important technologically.

HYPOTHESIS: World population is a barometer of technological success.

CONCLUSION: Success in technology can be indirectly measured by population growth, rising life expectancy, declining infant mortality rate, declining child mortality rate, and global mobility.

Life expectancy was 33 years in the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer era of prehistory.

If a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer survived to age 15 (reproductive age) then life expectancy increased to 54 years.

Life expectancy actually decreased with the Neolithic agricultural revolution after 10,000 BCE to age 26. Bronze and Iron age life expectancy remained about 26 years. Classical Greece and Rome life expectancy stayed at 26 years. Medieval Europe life expectancy decreased to 25 years.

Life expectancy began to increase in Great Britain first around 1650 to 30 years.

Life expectancy of 33 years was again achieved by 1770 in Europe and the USA.

By 1850, life expectancy in Europe and USA was 36 years.

As late as 1900, world life expectancy was 31 years, and 42 years in Europe and USA.

Current world life expectancy averages 72 years, 79 years in USA, 82 years in Western Europe, and 85 years in Japan.

Human world population in 200,000 BCE was estimated to be 20,000 individuals, all in Africa.

World population declined in 75,000 BCE to an estimated at 15,000 persons

primarily in Africa (“human bottleneck period” due to Toba volcano super eruption).

World population then increased to an estimated 4 million by 10,000 BCE, spread over 6 continents.

Then, world population grew by 266x from 75,000 BCE-10,000 BCE.

World population doubled 8x over these 65,000 years or

doubling every 8000 years.

What caused the massive 266x population increase between 75,000 BCE and 10,000 BCE?

Homo sapiens successfully migrated out of Africa to the rest of the world from 50,000 BCE-10,000 BCE. Africa represents 20% of total land area on Earth. Population of Australia continent occurred by 50,000 BCE. Then, population of European continent occurred by 30,000 BCE. Population of the Americas occurred by 15,000 BCE. Human land occupation increased by 4x from 75,000 BCE-10,000 BCE. That is, land occupation increased 4x from the migration out of Africa to the other 5 inhabitable continents. Global warming with the end of the most recent ice age glacial period occurred around 10,000 BCE.

The first agricultural revolution (Neolithic Revolution) occurred in 10,000 BCE.

World population grew 50x to 190 million by the Roman empire (1 AD) over 10,000 years.

Next, world population almost doubled between 10,000 BCE and 4,000 BCE (4 million – 7 million).

World population doubled again between 4000 BCE to 3000 BCE from (7 million to 14 million).

Then, world population almost doubled again between 3000 and 2000 BCE (14 million-27 million).

World population almost doubled again between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE (27 million -50 million).

World population goes up 4x between 1000 BCE and 1 AD (50 million-190 million)

From the Roman empire to now, the world population increased another 40x to 7.5 billion over 2000 years.

World population increased only 50% between 1 AD and 1000 AD (190 million-280 million).

World population increased 60% between 1000 AD and 1500 AD (280 million-450 million). The third agricultural revolution occurred after 1500 with light mechanization, New World crops, Norfolk 4 crop field rotation, increased use of horses, and land reorganization (end of feudalism).

Over 75,000 years passed to reach 500,000 people (1550), then 250 years passed to double to 1 billion (1800), then 130 years passed to double to 2 billion (1928) then 50 years passed to double to 4 billion (1975) then 50 years passed to double again to 8 billion (2025).

World population increased 13x between 1500 AD and 2000 AD (450 million-6.1 billion). The Age of Discovery opened the Americas, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand to re-colonization by heavily agricultural Europeans who replaced a largely hunter gatherer indigenous population. Whereas some crops were planted by the indigenous populations, little or no domestication of animals occurred necessitating hunting for meat.

The third agricultural revolution (Green Revolution) occurred from 1940 to present.

The Green Revolution was high yield hybrids, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, expansion of irrigation, and heavy mechanization. Norman Boraug, PhD (U of MN) became the “father of the Green Revolution”. Boraug was responsible for saving 1 billion from starvation in Mexico, India, and Pakistan. Crop yields increased 400% since 1940 in the US, wheat yields increased 300% since 1940 in Europe.

In prehistoric hunter gatherer societies, infant mortality was 27% under age 1, 50% mortality for children under age 15.
In agricultural societies from 10,000 BCE – medieval Europe, the numbers were very similar, 27% died in the first year, 46% died in childhood before puberty.

These mortality statistics of children have been remarkably consistent across cultures, regions, and over time.

In 1650 England, 30% of children died before age 10. 20% died before age 5. Less than half lived to 45 years. 5% survived to age 80.

Globally, child mortality is 1/10 now compared to old (before 1850) and ancient societies.

Currently, 95% of children survive to age 15.

The decline in mortality began in England and Wales around 1750 and can at least partially be attributable to the vaccination against small pox and drainage of mosquito infested swamplands.

Nutrition determines infant and child mortality more than any other single factor.

Malnourished children are more prone to disease, particularly infections.

Infant and child mortality fell 50% between 1850 and 1950 globally.

Then infant and child mortality fell another 50% between 1950 and 1990 globally.

Infant and child mortality fell another 50% between 1990 and 2013 globally.

In 1850, 10/10 most common causes of death were infections.

Prior to 1850, infections completely dominated mortality. 1850 marks the beginning of the first medical revolution. The first medical revolution saw the invention of the hollow needle and glass syringe, Virchow’s cellular basis of disease, and the germ theory for infection.

By 1900, only 4/10 top causes of death were infections.

In 1950, none of the top 5 causes of death were infections and only 1/10 top mortality causes were infection.

By 2000, none of the top 10 causes of death were infections.

According to Our World In Data, Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, and Bernadeta Dadonaite, 2013, revised 2019., United States Census Bureau, 2018.