The global population has been able to expand exponentially only when supported by a similar exponential growth in the exploitation of fossil fuels.
At the dawn of agriculture, about 8000 B.C., the population of the world was approximately 5 million. It took a further 8,000-years to grow to only 200 million.
But, a tremendous change occurred with the industrial revolution: whereas it had taken all of human history until around 1800 for world population to reach one billion, the second billion was achieved in only 130 years (1930), the third billion in less than 30 years (1959), the fourth billion in 15 years (1974), the fifth billion in 13 years (1987), the sixth billion in 12 years (1999) and the seventh billion in only a further 12 years (2011).
- During the 20th century alone, the population in the world grew from 1.65 billion to 6 billion.
- In 1970, there were only half as many people in the world as there are now.
Adapted from http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/.