People, people

Currently, there are 6 billion, 396 million people in the world. That works out to 43 people for every square mile on Earth, including Antarctica . You would think that would be enough, but as a species, we continue to breed like rabbits.

There is, however, a slight glimmer of hope. The United Nations says the world's growing population will eventually stabilize—in about 300 years! And when it happens around the year 2300, there will be about nine billion people on the planet. That would be sixty people for every square mile on Earth. (Before you get in a claustrophobic panic, there are 806 people per square mile in New Hanover County now.) The U-N report goes on to estimate that the average life-span then will be 95 years, and that in Japan people will be living until they're 106. (They eat mostly seafood in Japan .) The report actually lowers long-term population estimates because of some new thinking about fertility rates in the future.

The guess—and population predictions that go far into the future are little more than that—is that we'll breed less like rabbits, and more like prairie dogs perhaps. Still, just feeding 9 billion people will be an enormous task. And, at the rate we're polluting the oceans, our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren won't be able to count on seafood.