7 Billion Humans | National Geographic Magazine: Camel Beauty Contest | Empty Quarter, Abu Dhabi

Camel Beauty Contest | Empty Quarter, Abu Dhabi

For some in the West, the greatest challenge — because it is the least visible — is to shake off, at last, the view that large and growing numbers of people represent power and prosperity.

This view was fostered over millenniums, by the pronatalism of … Arab thinkers like Ibn Khaldun… more workers, more consumers, more soldiers… “The number of the people makes the wealth of states,” said Frederick the Great.

This view made some sense for societies subject to catastrophic mortality from famines, plagues and wars. But it has outlived its usefulness now that human consumption, and pollution, loom large across the earth.

—Joel E. Cohen, New York Times, October 23, 2011

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