Approaching 10 billion — Can our planet cope with population growth?

The physical capabilities of humans are lacklustre compared to most animals — we are not the strongest, nor the fastest and our senses are not the sharpest. In a bare-handed confrontation with a lion, for instance, a human would not fare well. Yet through our cunning, cooperation and resourcefulness, we have become unrivalled.

In the early stages of human history, our ability to create stone tools and control fire gave us a significant survival advantage. These skills enabled us to become effective hunter-gatherers…