Why Density Works

by Zoë Pollock

A study of 339 present-day hunter-gatherer groups demonstrated that after "every doubling of population, the home ranges of [those] groups increased by only 70 percent":

Every additional person requires less land than the previous one. That’s an important statement. Not only does it say we’re hardwired for density, it also says a group becomes 15 percent more efficient at extracting resources from the land every time their population doubles. Each successive doubling in turn frees up 15 percent more resources to be directed towards something other than hunting and gathering. In other words, complex societies didn’t just evolve as a way to cope with high-density—they evolved in part because of high density.

(Video: Lilium Urbanus from Joji Tsuruga on Vimeo.)