A Global Neighborhood

Lots of folks have linked to this little chartlet, which reveals that if the entire population of the United States lived at the density of the New York borough of Brooklyn, then it would fit inside the state of New Hampshire. Makes you think, huh? Or consider this: if the entire world’s population were located evenly within America’s borders, the country would be settled at less than the density in prototypical suburb Fairfax County.

If the world’s population were built at Brooklyn density, it would occupy about 70% of the state of Texas. At Manhattan densities, you could fit the whole world into Virginia and North Carolina. Leaving the rest of the world empty.

In practice, humans have to spread out in order to cultivate land to feed themselves, and agriculture aside, there are significant gains to distribution of population around the world (including the utility gains of satisfaction of varying tastes). But, you know, think about it.


  1. Freddie says:

    You are, consistently, one of the most incurious writers on the Internet.

  2. Grey Wolf says:

    I’ve heard this kind of statistic before. It never seems to remember that the human footprint (aka ecological footprint) is far greater than the size of our homes. If we moved every person in the world to Texas, some people would have impossible commuting times to the thousands of industries that would envelope the state. Rivers would need to be redirected to feed the thirst of 6.5 billion people. And lets not forget that if everyone in the world lived by consuming as many resources as the average American, the produce of about 9 Earths would have to be redirected, somehow, to Texas.

    Grey Wolf

  3. Ahab says:

    Thanks Grey Wolf,

    Way to ruin a thought experiment. Good Job.

    The Internet

  4. bdbd says:

    other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the thought experiment?

  5. slag says:

    “But, you know, think about it.”

    You meant this sarcastically, but sometimes, thinking about things–even crazy things like this–does help. It can help us delineate between what we do by choice and what we do by default. It can help us come up with even better solutions to our problems than we have now. And yes, it can even help us appreciate some of the things in our lives that we’ve tended to overlook in the past.

    So, yes, I think I will, you know, think about it.

  6. I first came across this sort of argument a long time ago in a book of Catholic apologetics for high school religion teachers – when students tell you the earth is overpopulated you ask them to figure out what state we would have to take to settle the world’s population at Mexico City densities – and I forget the answer back then, but it was much less than Texas.

    It is a fun thought experiment, river-diversion and all.