Could the Entire World Live in Texas, Part II

Somewhere along the line somebody who believed the world was not overpopulated pointed out that the entire population of the world could be comfortably placed within the confines of the state of Texas. Countless online debates have occurred centering on whether or not this is a sensible comparison, with environmentalists often pointing to this claim as an example of the sort of absurdities that their opponents are willing to entertain.

Now, however, the Sierra Club has gotten into the act by implicitly endorsing urbanization levels that make the whole-world-in-Texas argument look positively spacious. They’ve temporarily taken down the page, but in June the Sierra Club put a page up at which contained a calculator applet to measure the impact of various population densities. The page was constructed to promote the Sierra Club’s anti-sprawl initiative. But it contained some very curious results.

The applet compared the environmental impacts of what it called “efficient urban density” versus “sprawl density,” with the sprawl density, of course, coming out the loser. But the Sierra Club’s definition of efficient urban density might surprise some people. Initially, when the page went live, the Sierra Club defined efficient urban density as 500 households per acre. Given the average number of people per household in the United Stats, that works out to more than 750,000 people per square mile.

Folks ridiculed people for suggesting that the entire world population could fit in Texas, but at the density level the Sierra Club was advocating, all 6 billion people in the world today would be able to fit in an area just 2 percent as large as Texas. The state could hold upwards of 300 billion people at that level of density.

Responding to criticism, the Sierra Club quickly took the page down and retooled it, defining efficient urban density as only 100 households per acre. But that’s still a population density of 153,600 people per square mile, or a density high enough to put every single man, woman and child in Texas almost 7 times. Forget Texas, the entire world population could fit in Virginia!

It is almost beyond belief to see a mainstream environmental organization actually advocating population densities that exceed those proposed by the Texas thought experiment. At least the critics of overpopulation claims never actually advocated such an absurdity.


Sierra club exposes “smart growth” madness. Randal O’Toole, Heartland Institute, September 2001.

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19 thoughts on “Could the Entire World Live in Texas, Part II”

  1. What do you mean “live”? I’m not talking about creature comforts…like the ability to sit more than 20 feet away from someone. I’m talking about actual survival. There would be no space for farming, drilling, water treatment, sewer systems, landfills etc. So could you actually live? Yes, I suppose you could. If you did not eat, drink or have human waste. So yes, everyone could live there for about 3 days. Hardly impressive.

  2. Ok, regardless of the exact numbers. The point is that the world is not anywhere near being over populated. If you could fit the population of the world in an area the size of two Texas’, that would still be a fraction of the habitable space on the planet. The numbers that were being used in the original argument were not even considering building up, as in skyscrapers. The fact that anyone can think that the number of people that we have on this planet is having any significant effect what so ever on the climate or ecosystem in general is mind boggling to me. If anyone is interested in checking some real science and not just listening to Kerry, who stands to make a hell of allot of money with his cap and trade bill, check out this site.

  3. I may not be venerable enough to possess a website but I must agree with Jeremy. I have done the math and a population of 12 billion could fit packed into Texas with the space of 608 feet square. Now imagine if we could stack this, I refer to sky scrapers every floor we go up on a building reducing the demand on the land. Two stories half as much land four a fourth and so on. Our buildings reach grand heights do they not? Then couldn’t we use the space of an entire country say the size of the U.S to feed their huger? Or perhaps two countries… The world is very far from being over populated and certain natural factors which people loath and do oft protest successfully keep the population “in check” (flood, famine, plague, etc.). The world looks crowded because the public is fed snapshots of 50 crowded into the space less than a living room pardon the hyperbole. On ward to global warming I have not nor will i ever be such a pitiful specimen as an evolutionist hehe the very idea. But if people assume the Earth from molten toxic origins (which i also do not believe) even if the entire blasted human race is damned won’t life find a way? The environment will always bounce back surely the origins of the Earth’s destruction cannot come fromt the earth itself. Climate, temperature, the seasons they cycle, they flow humans think way to highly of themselves if they assume they can stop it all on their whim. I have ladies and gentlemen no fear of what deeds humans may perform on the Earth surely they will only grow increasingly wicked and terrible so stop what we can and fight where can. I fear no end other than the promised one that is the difference between myself and the atheist he frets I do not. We did not shape the world in our hands nor will the world in our hand perish. If you are concerned about the population insight war. Stop washing your hands stop eating for Christ sake and I assure you there will be one less and the human populace will greatly rise in IQ. If Global warming is your issue dispose of your computer and your electrical and gas consuming devices and go live in the jungle with the apes who would not want someone as foolish as you in their midst. Be a good martyr for you own cause you hypocrites. I have no illusions about the goodness of human being or the existence of a perfect world. Rubbish! Hehe, it appears I flew off the proverbial handle. I will stop…

  4. Nobody ever said that projected population totals couldn’t fit within a given geographical area or that the amount of available land on earth is inadequate to contain projected population numbers. Overpopulation simply means that there are or are projected to be more people on the planet than the planet’s resources can sustain, as those resources are currently being used. Somewhat apart from the question of sustainability is the question of life quality and whether people would even want to live in a world with multiple times the current population and the kind of competition for ever-scarcer resources that would necessarily involve. The Chinese and Indians aren’t riding bicycles anymore. They want to live like Americans, and so do millions of other people in developing countries. Increasingly, they are doing so.

    Finally, being a martyr is not the only option. By framing the possible responses to problems in extreme, either/or ways, people justify doing nothing. There’s such a thing as being aware of the effects our lifestyles have and trying to minimize the impact as best we can.

  5. Although the Sierra club is being perhaps too wishful, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to reduce the world population and then concentrate people into sustainable, well-planned arcologies. That would leave enough nature and farmland unspoiled for people to enjoy.

    The people who usually quote that Texas stat, I find, are those who rejoice in the idea of a sprawling hell-slum growing from the cities and engulfing once peaceful rural areas and natural preserves alike. Food and water issues are dealt with later I suppose. This they envision to support their madman’s dream of 40 billion people living on Earth, presumably all of them religious zealots of their preferred “faith”.

  6. Your post hmm ? Blog Archive ? Hello world! was very interesting when I found it over google on Friday by my search for hmm. I have your blog now in my bookmarks and I visit your blog again, soon. Take care.

  7. It’s amazing to see how some people still don’t believe in overpopulation, climate changes and everything else. These replies really opened my eyes to it.
    Overpopulation does not mean that there is no space for people anymore. It means there is not enough space to produce the things these people need. Every person needs, above all, to breathe. There needs to be enough space to regen that air. Every person needs food that has to grow somewhere. Every person needs a chair, a table… All that stuff needs to be produced somewhere and all the trash you produce every day of your life needs to go somewhere.
    If you think the world is no overpopulated keep your trash for 3 months in your home. I’d love to see you say “hey, this is not to bad, we could all live like this forever”. And then, all that trash needs more time to decompose then you spend living. This means you need X space for Y times your lifespan. This means that (in a not growing population) we need space for every person plus the space that is still decomposing the trash from people that already died making us need more space for trash from dead people then for actual living people today.
    You sound like a guy that says “hey there is allot of space in my home, why don’t I invite 30 people to live with me?” and doesn’t think about the space he needs for his clothes, his car, his TV, the space to sit at the table and eat, to store his food, the plate he is eating out off, the space for the table itself and the space he needs to sit on the can, that also needs space, while he is taking a dump.

    “What holds the world together is stupidity, not gravity”

  8. @Jeremy:
    What amaze me the most not only that people will stand behind a ridiculous comment like this one just to not be confronted with the idea that how the they live their lifes is wrong, is the idea that the most of the world is “empty”. apparently humans are alone in this world, humans can do or undo as they please because we re the only ones in here…… we share this world with millions of creatures (and this goes for religious people that mostly defend their right to procreate) they re creatures of god too!! they re not here in this world just for us take advantage of them. in your tiny calculation how the rest of the ecosystem (that we’re destroying by the way) fits in Texas? please people open your eyes to what is happening around you!! humans are destroying everything god have us…. and the bad news is .. we can’t live without it.

  9. Right on Brenda (above)! I’m with you 100%. It seems that the majority of people tend to believe that the world was created for them- specifically. That GOD (human-like with a beard and the need to be worshiped by name) made this planet for them/us to “have dominion over” ever animal, plant and what-have-you. Translation: have babies and more babies and fuck everything else. In my opinion all Religions – contains great truths and ageless wisdom, however, they also contain the seeds of false hope, delusion, bad science and social prejudices. Even sadder is that most collage educated Westerners lack a clear understanding of what is meant by bio-diversity or sustainability and focus on the goal of being rich and/or powerful. They choose to close their eyes/minds to anything that conflicts with their pursuit of money and personal aggrandizement. I have more sympathy for poorly educated religion fanatics that greedy self-centered capitalist.

  10. guys, this is not saying we could all live in Texas, its just saying we could all fit in Texas, I think i didnt read all of it. but, its to prove something about a myth.

  11. Wow I can’t beleive real people are actually denying the fact that all humans could live comfortably in texas. Texas is 7,488,166,118,400squareft. Divided by 7bil is a little more than 1000squareft. The population density of this would be less than New York.

    I live in a 1000squareft house (including my backyard), I share it with two other people and its not cramped although I wouldn’t mind living in this imaginary texas where I’d get three times more space.

    For the sake of this thought experiment lets triple this space so we can add infrustructure and each have a farm, and also lets learn to recycle and compost properly. This still leaves the rest of the planet for your sacred animals to flourish. Anybody who beleives in overpopulation is a bloodthirsty fool end of discussion.

  12. pepole i agree with both points of view even if we could fit all people in texas we could not all be there at one time there are tto many arguments and other petty fights in this world to alow us to be in one place in one time for example religion the fact about it is that we all belive different so we can ont agree the radical muslims for example want all cristions dead for they do not belive what they do that is my statement on this fact

  13. Modern technology has made it possible for us to create agri-facilities that produce food and drinking water far in excess of conventional production methods without pesticide and chemical pollution, without crop failure from drought and other weather problems, and without burning fossil fuels that create devastating climate changes around the world — and create millions of permanent, well-paying jobs in the process. See for the whole story:
    “The new manufacturing” wave
    will create millions of jobs
    The Vision: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
    The Beginning: First Steps In A New Direction
    The Future: Will Our Nation Lead Or Follow?

  14. Here’s a related item:
         Stunned silence greeted President Barack Obama as he entered the General Assembly of the United Nations and approached the podium cradling in his arms the emaciated and lifeless body of a small child.

         He did not speak when he reached the podium.  Instead he stood grim-faced, glaring at the shocked ambassadors.  He fixed his penetrating stare particularly on the representatives of warring nations.

    See for the whole story:
    The day the president
    shocked the world

  15. If the world has to many people then all of you that are worried about sustainability should go ahead and take yourselves out of the equation for the greater good. This a joke by the way!
    We are conditioned to believe that we are sinners and usurpers of the earths resources and we should die at a certain age for our carbon footprint date.
    PROPAGANDA people wake from your sitcom and fluoridated water (main ingredient in Prosac) and sports slumber. Why should I be subject to what the machine wants your leaders chew resources by the tons live in lavish homes own multiple vehicles and homes and I am supposed to live in a 16×16 apartment for the betterment of the environment …..what a disgusting notion for me to sacrifice my way of life when the elite you can bet your bottom dollar will not do the same.why?
    Control control control people of the world wake to what’s really going on
    Their is no population crisis their is no monetary crisis their is no food crisis.

    Population let’s see …..hmmmm….. Getting to be to many people in the world to be controlled by the top echelon , that’s it in a nutshell so your fed global warming crap and no food crap and so on.
    If food is such a crisis then instead of using 63% of the corn crop for ethanol and other non edible products just mandate a stop …..simple don’t ya think? That’s just corn.
    Your national debt ( if your in America) is around $69,000 per person in the good ole USA but wait just one minute the money the FED creates is out of thin air it’s computer generated and it’s all digital their is no gold or silver or oil or other commodities to back it up. Think people about what’s really going on !!!!!!
    Example for you all to chew on. Your actual debt to your nation is about 9%
    Truly roughly accurate figure , this is what is going to hopefully get you upset and thinking!
    FEDERAL RESERVE (just to keep it simple) loans Bank A $1000 bank A can loan out 90% of it’s loan to Bank B which has $900 and now Bank B can loan 90% to Bank C which is $810 and Bank C loans Bank D 90% which is $729 and Bank D loans 90% to Bank E which has $656 and so on …….
    Let’s just take those figures 900+810+729+656= $3095 wow
    That initial $1000 dollars has turned into over $3095 dollars just being distributed between a few select banks so you have all of this fictitious money with added interest and that is where your main debt bubble comes from and you are a slave to this debt through income tax and IRS both truly illegal in every respect of the word.Americas money system is built on a ponzi/pyramid scheme the people at the top get most all of the money and the ones at the bottom get very little for a lot of effort and oh by the way
    No ponzi/pyramid scheme has ever been sustainable EVER!!!!!
    This one will fail too….it’s a matter of time……population control, sports , TV ,environmental issues, religion and race and bad nations of the world that need to be corrected LMAO! It’s all an illusion to the real agenda of forcing people into smaller areas and reduced offspring to more manageable numbers .remember that without us following along with the devilish agenda they cannot control us,you,me or anyone else.For the love of GOD turn off your spoon fed propaganda that is your TV (every station is owned by 6 corporations and they answer to the global banking system) and step back for a moment and think about what’s really happening in the world your neighborhood your community your state and with reason and logic ask yourself is this really how it should be?
    I know this is about population but fellow humans of life , liberty, freedom and the betterment of ourselves and the world think about these few topics
    and maybe you will see that if our leaders were concerned about the well being of the nation we would not be outsourcing jobs and putting people by the millions on food stamps and the to big to fail get away free of charge.
    If I don’t pay my bills or make bad investments I doubt very likely that I will be bailed out. Wake up quit drinking the presstitute and corporate whore media propaganda. Nothing is free and one day the piper will come to your front door to be paid………you can turn your cheek and hide in your sitcoms and sports and population debates but when it hits your front door in the garb of Marshall law or military state , you won’t be able to ignore it any longer .By then it will be to late. Scary times this country is not what it was ….it’s a time gone by and if your kids are going to have a future without tyranny and authoritarian society we have to do something now!!!!!!!!!!!
    God bless and well being to all my brothers and sisters of truth,liberty,justice and freedom.

  16. Some of you have missed the forest for the trees. No one ever implied that we SHOULD, (all seven billion of us) live in Texas. The actual message is that overpopulation is a myth, plain and simple. Is there anyone, religious or otherwise, that believes we shouldn’t be good stewarts of the earth? Resources are only a problem currently because two percent of the entire world’s population owns fifty percent of it’s wealth. Be that as it may, if one day the Koch brothers suddenly decided, ‘We will end world hunger entirely on our own and not even go close to broke doing it’ , they could do it, period. The problem is I don’t see any of the superwealthy becoming moral giants any time soon. But that does mean we have to believe the lies they feed us.


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