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What's the Minimum Number of People Needed to Survive an Apocalypse?

A common theme of apocalyptic movies is a small set of survivors trying to build thriving communities after a worldwide disaster. But how small could that number of survivors really be in order to repopulate the earth? Scientists, as well as scriptwriters, have been studying the issue.

The short answer is, it depends. Different catastrophes would create different doomsday conditions for surviving human populations to endure. For example, a nuclear war could trigger a nuclear winter, with survivors facing freezing summer temperatures and global famine, not to mention radiation exposure. However, putting some of these conditions aside and focusing on population size, the minimum number is likely very small compared with the approximately 7.8 billion people alive today.

"With populations in the low hundreds, you can probably survive for many centuries. And many small populations of that kind have survived for centuries and perhaps millennia," Cameron Smith, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Portland State University in Oregon, told Live Science.

An article at LiveScience looks at the numbers, by looking to the past and how small populations worked in prehistory, and by looking to the future when people may travel to other planets. -via Damn Interesting


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Oh I duno, I'd say there's no greater hell, no greater apocalypse than 7.8 billion people. So we're already in an apocalypse. It's funny how, if there were 7.8 billion siberian tigers running around it would be considered a hellish nightmare. But if it's 7.8 billion people (which do way more damage to the planet, way more damage to animals, way more damage to outer space), then it's not a problem. It's "progress". But you can't tell people they can only have 1-2 children. Because that's "bad". "for some reason" Gee I wonder why that's considered bad, when it's the only solution to the hellish dystopian future we're heading to.
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Given that we got to approximately 7.8 Billion people from a smaller number of people, it's simply a function of having a birth rate for greater than 2.1 per female, and assuming that you could easily continue to provide the relative basics of shelter, food and water...
plus of course having sufficient genetic diversity to avoid the various genetic diseases, etc
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