Population Biology

Are there too damn many of us?

According to the United Nations, the world’s population will reach 8 billion next month. Here’s a link to the World Population Meter, if you’re interested in watching as this event unfolds: Worldometer.

Now, if you’re very logic-oriented, you might ask, “8 billion what?”

Humans, dumbshit, humans.

But it’s actually not such a dumb question, in my opinion. After all, we humans can be so anthropocentric we can forget we are vastly outnumbered by all the other creatures occupying this planet. And most of those other creatures give as little damn about us as we give about them.

Some believe humans are the most important animal on earth. I’m loyal to our species, so I’ll go along with that and stick up for us, also. But I’ll bet other creatures are loyal to their own species, and they would dispute that humans are the most important. Perhaps we could settle this dispute with an arm-wrestling contest. But no octopuses allowed!

If you really want to get a grasp on how outnumbered we are, you can take up the study of Population Biology. This term has various meanings, but it often denotes the way we use math in order to calculate the populations of various species.

For instance, a population biologist might tell us that there are 110 trillion mosquitoes in the world. But how does this person really know? Was each and every little mosquito counted, one-by-one? If so, I want this job, and I want to be paid $100 an hour. I think I’ll apply for a government grant.

But no, the population biologist probably developed a mathematical model, performed some small sample counts, and then applied those counts to the model in order to calculate a worldwide estimate.

One thing is for sure, counting species is not an exact science. I think that even includes counting humans. Who knows how many people there really are? I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve already surpassed 8 billion. Or maybe some nations inflate their population numbers, in order to impress and intimidate other nations. So maybe the real number is far less than 8 billion. Who knows?

But assuming population biologists are close to accurate with their counts, I find it fascinating to compare the populations of other species to that of our own. It kind of puts our existence in perspective against the whole picture. I think the most interesting way to find this perspective is visually. So what follows are the whole numbers, rounded and written out, of various species that reside on planet Earth:

Different Species, including microbiological (As many as 1 trillion):


Humans (8 billion):


Monkeys (1.4 million):


We outnumber monkeys 5,714 to 1! Yessss!!! Ooh-ooh-ooh, ahh-ahh-ahh!

Cats (600 million):


We outnumber cats 13 to 1. Rrowwwr!

Dogs (1 billion):


Take that, cats! And we humans outnumber dogs 8 to 1. Woof!

Birds (50 billion):


Birds outnumber us more than 6 to 1. How humiliating. You’ll hear not one peep out of me.

Mammals (130 billion):


We are only 1/16th the total population of all mammals. That just isn’t fair.

Fish (3.5 trillion):


Fish outnumber us 437 to 1. But if you’ve ever been heartbroken, then told there are plenty of fish in the sea, this is good news.

Mosquitoes (110 trillion):


Mosquitoes outnumber us 13,750 to 1. But we are better buzzkills.

Flies (17 quadrillion):


Flies outnumber us 2,125,000 to 1. Yikes! Close the screen door.

Ants (20 quadrillion):


Ants outnumber us 2,500,000 to 1. And they’re all in my backyard.

Animals (20 quintillion):


Humans consist of only one 250 millionth of the total population of all animals.

Trees (3 trillion):


That’s 375 trees for every man, woman and child on Earth.

Plants (????):

Who the hell knows?

Individual bacteria in human body (39 trillion):


Sometimes it really does feel crowded in here.

Individual bacteria on Earth (5 nonillion):


Sorry, my calculator just exploded.

Individual viruses on Earth (10 nonillion):


All calculators on Earth have just exploded.

Stars in the universe (200 sextillion):


With more microbes than stars, we must be living in a very sick universe.

I couldn’t find total figures for plants or fungi. But suffice it to say, we humans are just a drop in the ocean, compared to the vast sea of living creatures, flying, swimming, squirming, walking, crawling, and sprouting upon planet Earth.

Environmentalists urge us to share our planet with other creatures. But after researching this post, I feel grateful they’re the ones sharing it with us.

And from a spiritual perspective, this brings up a question for those who believe in reincarnation. If human beings represent the pinnacle of achievement in rebirths, how could this planet possibly accommodate all the other creatures, as they advance along on their path to humanhood?

Or could it be the other way around? Is our ultimate goal in reincarnation to be reborn as a virus? Mathematically, it makes a lot more sense.

Perhaps on the Other Side, the most advanced beings become the ones that are incarnated on Earth as the least advanced and most simple, such as bacteria. And perhaps that’s because they need the least amount of challenges, to exercise their souls and get back into good spiritual shape, before returning to the Other Side. Planet Earth is nothing more than a gymnasium for them, that they visit briefly, perhaps on a regular basis, to stay in shape.

On the other hand, the least advanced beings on the Other Side could be the ones that need the most spiritual exercise. They’ve been lazy, and allowed their spiritual strength to dissipate, by neglecting the “gym.” So those poor bastards have to come to this Earth as among the most advanced and complex, facing the toughest of challenges to survive. And the worst of the worst come here as humans.

Yep. We’re the dregs. All eight billion of us.

Categories: Science

66 replies »

  1. I knew your post would make me smile. May have make my brain explode as well with all the math in it,but that’s okay!
    Oh, and you forgot to include how many mythical animals there are, you know like Unicorns, Pegasus and that other animal that starts with an A. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dude. This post was crazyyyy! How insightful. I love reading things where I can feel my brain moving and thinking. I think a big aspect we should also consider is that it’s not only that there are “so many” of us, but that we use soooooooo much shit

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wonder what an ideal human population for the earth would be. That might depend upon whom you ask. We have driven a lot of other organism extinct to get where we are. Not sure how much farther we can go with that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, that’s some rather involved math for my weak brain. But with 39 trillion bacteria in each human body, the more of us we create, the more hosts we create for them. I doubt we could ever outnumber the menacing microbes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I love mathematics. It reveals the absurdities of everyday existence.

        “Mass of one bacterium: 9.5 × 10^−13 g”
        (Evolution, Microbial Life, and the Biosphere. BISC 300,University of Southern California, Fall 2002.)

        At 39-trillion bacteria, each human should account for about 37 grams of bacterial biomass. (Seems low to me, but I’ll stick with what I can reference.) Times 8-billion humans, that’s around 300-million kilograms (or 300,000 metric tons) of bacteria. That would require more than 13,600 fully-loaded, ISO-standard (TEU), 20-ft. shipping containers, which is about the average maximum load for a container ship, or the space on sixty-eight, 100-car trains with 2 containers per car.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I was going to say the ants are going to win, but then I saw your microbe count. Sheesh.

    I’ll bet reincarnation assumes all that ever have lived (and will live) already inhabit a body. We just keep going round and round, like a bad politician.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Meantime, people fruitfully multiply nonetheless, prolifically even, regardless of their questionable ability to raise their children in a psychologically functional/healthy manner. And general society erroneously perceives and treats human reproductive ‘rights’ as though we will somehow, in blind anticipation, be innately inclined to sufficiently understand and appropriately nurture our children’s naturally developing minds and needs.

    I recently watched in the news a parental protest against some form of proposed, undoubtedly controversial elementary school curriculum. A picket sign read, “We don’t co-parent with the government”. But maybe a lot of incompetent yet procreative parents nowadays should.

    Liked by 1 person

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