This month, the population of the planet is believed to have surpassed 8 billion living people. This milestone serves as a reminder of the importance of critical natural resources, infrastructure, agriculture, and various services. Without well-functioning markets, supply chains, and governments, millions of people will be exposed to heat or cold extremes, drought and famine, energy poverty, lack of safe water, and a host of other preventable risks and unfortunate realities around the globe.

With these challenges in mind and the new record high human population, we asked our audience to look into the future and assess the most important issues in need of attention.


Aii Asks: With the global population now surpassing 8 billion people, what is the top infrastructure challenge of the century?


You answered: 62.5% for Power, Energy, and Fuel, 25% for Food & Water, and 12.5% for Transportation. There were no votes for Information Services


When people consider the magnitude of a global population of 8 billion people, their first thought is often “that is a lot of mouths to feed.” This common refrain has led to many wrongly reasoned articles and books about a population bomb leading to devastation, starvation, and famine. Over time, food yields have increased even in spite of more mouths demanding the food. This is in part due to energy.

In industrialized nations, robust energy affords the luxury of research and development into new and innovative farming techniques, genetic modifications, and harvesting technology. Together, these and other factors have increased food availability with no sign of slowing. That is one reason that our audience, and we at Aii, believe energy is the most foundational challenge of the century. To sustain the population of 8 billion, we will need electricity, heat, and fuel, which are essential for agriculture, sheltering people from the elements, powering the supply chain and vehicles that supply food and goods, and through all of it, energy is essential to acquire the raw materials and to manufacture everything we use.

As time goes on and we continue to tap finite natural resources in the ground, it will be essential that we use them efficiently. As we seek to improve the technology that can harness wind and solar radiation, we must ensure the supply chains are in place to acquire the vast natural resources needed to build them (and the energy needed to collect those raw materials).

Food and safe water are essential to live, but energy helps make them possible. Do you have other thoughts on this? Let us know by tagging @AiiNonProfit on your preferred social media platform.


Written by Benjamin Dierker, Director of Public Policy


The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.