There are thought to be seven billion people living on our planet and this number is set to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, according to UN figures.
This population explosion is largely attributed to better healthcare and farming practices, with some experts arguing that industrialisation in the 18th and 19th centuries was the tipping point that allowed more humans to thrive.
However, one social scientist claims the human population explosion has its roots as far back as 2,000 years ago.
‘The Industrial Revolution and public health improvements were proximate reasons that more people lived longer, Professor Stutz said.
‘If you dig further in the past, however, the data suggest that a critical threshold of political and economic organisation set the stage 1,500 to 2,000 years ago, around the start of the Common Era.
‘The resulting political-economic balance was the tipping point for economies of scale - It created a range of opportunities enabling more people to get resources, form successful families and generate enough capital to transfer to the next generation.’
Population dynamics have been a hot topic since the late 18th century when English scholar Thomas Robert Malthus published his controversial essay claiming that population booms in times of plenty will inevitably be checked by famine and disease.
His Malthusian Catastrophe theory was penned just before the global census size reaching one billion in around 1800.
Just 120 years afterwards, the human population topped two billion and during the last 50 years it has surged to almost eight billion.
While thriving has lead mankind to diversify and achieve incredible feats, some worry that too many of us sharing a limited amount of resources, will one day lead to a worse standard of life and even starvation.
Professor Stutz describes the population explosion as ‘mind-boggling’.
‘The human population has not behaved like any other animal population. We haven’t stayed in any kind of equilibrium with what we would consider a typical ecological niche,’ he said.
Economic historians and demographers have focused on societal changes that occurred during the Industrial Revolution as the explanation for the exponential population growth, but Professor Stutz thinks the reason for the explosion lies far earlier.
He found that the potential for the human population to flourish despite environmental degradation, conflict and disease, could be traced to a subtle interaction between competition and organisation.
At a certain tipping point, this interaction created opportunities for individuals to gain more control over their lives and prosper - opening the door to economies of scale.
He said that the Roman Empire, which spanned 500 years from just before the Common Era to 476 AD, is a good example of passing through this threshold.
It is known for its economic and political organisation, literature and advances in architecture and engineering.
But for individuals, life was often hard, with labourers often dying young, having produced goods for trading and empire building. Large numbers of young men also had to serve in the military, potentially shortening their life expectancies.
Professor Stutz said: ‘The vast majority of people who lived under Roman rule had a life expectancy into their late 20s or early 30s.’
‘A huge swathe of the population was feeding, quite literally, on the dynamism that was taking place in terms of economic and political development.