“Climate change, war, reduced mortality and fertility, and increased maternal age … [even a] devastating global pandemic that killed 2 billion people” would only dent the human population. “Global population has risen so fast over the past century that roughly 14% of all the human beings that have ever existed are still alive today.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/28/global-population-science-growth-study-wars-disaster-disease)
14% is startling. There have only ever been 50 billion humans? Over 20,000 years? A reasoned estimate puts this figure over 100 billion (http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx) but any of the assumptions could be challenged. Still startling.
“Growth purely for its own sake is the philosophy of cancer.” (Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book, Hodder Paperbacks New Ed edition, 2002, p86)