One of the most remarkable events of modern times? Human population growth.
At the time of the First Dynasty in Egypt — around 3000 BC — global population was just 100 million, according to estimates. By the height of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christ, that number was perhaps 250 million. And in 1750, at the dawn of the industrial revolution, global population had risen to 750 million.
Now — thanks to antibiotics, improved sanitation, mechanized agriculture, vaccinations — it's 7,155 million, or 7.15 billion.
Current estimates suggest that global population will top out at 8.5 billion in 2030. The growth rate is already falling, due to women having less children. In 2012, the global fertility rate was 2.47 births per woman. That was a decrease from 2.50 in 2011, and 2.90 in 2006. The rate at which population growth will level off is 2.10, according to projections.
Of course, 8.5 billion people is still a huge number for the planet to support in the long run. Can the Earth do it? Some estimates say no, and some estimates say yes. Personally, I'd say a lot depends on technology. If humans can figure out a way to keep atmospheric dioxide levels close to pre-industrial levels, and transition to renewable energy to avoid over-reliance on finite resources like oil and goal, then we have a pretty good chance. John Aziz
Empire's first season aired its finale in March, and fans have been eagerly waiting to find out when they'll finally get to see all those dangling cliffhangers resolved.
Unfortunately, the season two premiere date is still pretty far away — but at last you can put it down on your calendar. Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie, took to Twitter to reveal that Empire will return on September 23. Set your DVRs accordingly. Scott Meslow
Creator of black market website Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced to life in prison Friday.
Ulbricht received the maximum sentence for his felony convictions of conspiracy, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Stephanie Talmadge
A Texas high school senior was suspended and barred from graduation this week after a can of Bud Light was found in a cooler in his truck. Quintin Walker says he didn't realize the single beer can was still in the soda-filled cooler that his mother had packed for a family picnic the previous weekend. "I worked 12 years to walk across that stage," Walker said. "It's just crazy."
Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert reportedly paid off a man to conceal past sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times. A federal grand jury indicted Hastert on Thursday for allegedly evading currency reporting requirements. He reportedly withdrew the cash to give to an unidentified person, who one official claimed is a man Hastert wanted to conceal a past relationship with.
The alleged misconduct, which one source called "sex" and the other confirmed involved sexual abuse, dates back to Hastert's stint as a Yorkville, Illinois, high school wrestling coach and teacher, LAT reports.
"It goes back a long way, back to then," one source told the paper. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office." Julie Kliegman
Yes, we know that Bud Light basically tastes like water anyway. But for victims of the devastating floods in Texas and Oklahoma, actual drinking water is essential right now. Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, which makes big-name beers like Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Corona, and tons more, decided to halt beer production at its Georgia brewery in order to produce 2,000 24-packs of drinking water, which are currently en route with the Red Cross to flood victims in Texas and Oklahoma.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 29, 2015
Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is expected to formally enter the 2016 presidential race June 3, a source told Politico on Friday. Chafee's spokesperson told MSNBC there'd be a "major announcement."
Chafee, 62, became a Democrat midway through his term as governor, which ended earlier this year. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1999 to 2007 as a Republican.
Chafee is slated to speak at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. He would face Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and likely former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (expected to announce Saturday) in a Democratic primary. Julie Kliegman
There have been rumblings that former two-term Maryland governor Martin O'Malley will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. But if you prefer guitar picking to "rumblings," let the video below help you make your decision:
O'Malley, who BuzzFeed reports is trying to position himself as a more authentic alternative to frontrunner Hillary Clinton, is set to make a special "announcement" Saturday in Baltimore, and will head to the crucial election states of Iowa and New Hampshire soon after. Samantha Rollins