The world population currently stands at about 7 billion people, and the United Nations expects that to grow to 9 or 10 billion by the end of the century. But populations generally don't stay at the same level for long periods of time--they tend to cycle up and down, and sometimes, if they've grown in ways that are unsustainable, they crash. How do we avoid this fate and keep the world on a sustainable path?

This question is being put to a panel of experts at the Affordable World Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 27. Led by cientific American executive editor Fred Guterl, author of the forthcoming book Fate of the Species (Bloomsbury). Panelists include:

WOLFGANG LUTZ, founding director of the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna, Austria.  People often look at population simply as so many mouths to feed, but Lutz focuses in his work on how people can be engines of growth and change.

SYLVIA EARLE is former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an oceanographer, author and lecturer.

MARTIN LEES is former Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations and Secretary General of the Club of Rome. He is now a senior advisor to the Chinese government on climate change and other issues.

GEORGE POLK is former CEO of THE CLOUD, a broadband wireless network operator in Europe.  In 2007, he began working as a philanthropist focusing on climate change, most recently at the Catalyst Project, which seeks to jumpstart low-carbon growth plans for developing countries.

Tjhe session begins at 4 PM ET, but you can see other sessions as well. The full schedule of the conference, which runs through Wednesday,  here (pdf).


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