The Big History Project (BHP), supported by Bill Gates, aims to inspire a greater love of learning and to help students better understand how they got here, where they’re going, and how they fit in. BHP describes itself as ‘a social studies course that runs on jet fuel’, with the goal of providing a ‘world class, ready-for-the-classroom resource available to everyone, everywhere. For free’. For their multimodal assessment, students were required to prepare a speech and an infographic – drawing upon the skills of investigative inquiry – to answer the question: How many people could Earth support now and 100 years from now?
‘This assessment was the culmination of Unit 7 of the Big History Project and is classed as Project Based Learning,’ said Social Science’s teacher, Genevieve Gray. ‘The Big History Project promotes this kind of investigative process. It’s akin to the inquiry learning models that many subjects here at CHAC often use.’
If you think BHP sounds interesting, you are in luck! With several of our subjects, like Year 9s Flight, parents frequently comment ‘I wish I could attend this class’. Well, if Big History interests you, you can. The BHP website offers an option for Lifelong Learners so, dust off your pencil case or keyboard and head online to the self-guided, six-hour version of Big History.
Overall, there are issues including conflict, water misuse, rapid population growth, food wastage, unsustainable agriculture, growing life expectancy, uneducated children and limited space that all impact on how many people the Earth can support. But all of these obstacles have solutions that can be implemented and be overcome by combining our constantly increasing knowledge, collective learning and will to survive.
First and foremost, for the Earth and its humans to live in harmony; the Earth must support the people and the people must support the survival of the Earth. For the Earth to support humans, it must meet their biological needs (water, food, shelter) in such a way, that this then allows for their social, civil and cultural life to prosper. Basically, for the Earth to support humans, it needs to give them a good quality of life. You could have 10 billion people wiping away every resource and other species while living a crowded, limited life. Or, five billion people living a civil, full, cultural experience. We are emotional creatures who need more than just a bowl of rice and a cup of water to survive.
Edie Biasibetti and Kaitlyn Banks
There have been many different opinions, in the form of movies and books, on how the earth will look in 100 years. A couple of examples of this are The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Selection. Although they are great reads, they don’t really provide a very accurate representation of our future earth. Through our research, we factored in the planet’s needs and have calculated how much agricultural land and food will be available to support our estimated population. We have determined our population through population growth and fertility rates trends as well as the resources available to support it.
A cosmonaut economy is essential for our future. If we decrease waste by reusing most of our resources, combined with slowing population growth, we won’t outgrow the food production and water available. This
project opened my eyes to how much we are struggling to support ourselves and the speed at which we are running out of resources. Many will run out in our lifetimes.
In today's environment and with our current way of life, Earth, our home, is able to support only 10 billion people where food and water supplies are concerned. Our research indicates that due to current food trends, 10 billion people is the maximum unless people are willing to live in absolute poverty; however, even with this figure, over one third of this population will still be living in extreme poverty and in water-scarce areas.
Are we limiting our children's lives by wasting resources? Are we damaging our only home, our Earth? Let me remind you all that, as Barack Obama said, there is no plan B, there are no second chances for our Earth. If we ruin this precious planet, we ruin our own race: humanity.