Top 5 Inventions That Changed Population History

Population Connection celebrates World Population Day by featuring major historical moments and discoveries that affected global population through new interactive website

Jul 08, 2015, 10:11 ET from Population Connection

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In celebration of World Population Day, Saturday, July 11th, Population Connection has launched an interactive website that features major population changes throughout time, including the top five inventions that changed population history. From the Han Dynasty to the Information Age, the site provides insight on how major historical moments contributed to an expanding population and how it will impact the future of humankind.

To view the Digital Media Release please click here.

One of the highlights of the site is a video that portrays the history of population growth with dots, each representing 1 million people, illuminating a world map. Historical images on the screen provide context for the events, discoveries and civilizations that shaped world population over the past 2,000 years. An interactive timeline on the website showcases over 370 milestones, including major inventions.

Included among them are these five inventions that drastically altered population history:

  • Oil Wells (347 CE) – First drilled in China using 800-ft. bamboo poles, oil wells have allowed people to use fossil fuels for heating, cooking, transportation and manufacturing. This improved lives and increased lifespans, but also contributed to air pollution that affects the health of millions worldwide today.
  • Magnetic Compass (Improved during China's Song Dynasty) – The magnetic compass served as a primary navigational instrument for mariners, which launched the Age of Discovery and poised Europe to become a world power that would later fuel the Industrial Revolution, global trade and migrations of people around the globe.
  • Microscope (1676) – The microscope revolutionized medicine by increasing our understanding of bacteria, viruses, and all living cells, and enabled us to create vaccines for once-deadly diseases and life-saving medicines, which increased life spans worldwide.
  • Flush Toilet (1775) – The flush toilet improved sanitation, preventing people from dying of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhus and typhoid that spread from raw sewage. In places around the world where infant mortality rates are still high, one of the leading culprits is lack of improved sanitation.
  • Nitrogen-based Fertilizer (1913) – When inert nitrogen was transformed into a usable, reactive form in chemical fertilizer, plant growth was extended and the human population more easily fed. Without the additional food production fueled by nitrogen fertilizer, researchers estimate that two billion fewer people would be alive today.

"The video is an astonishing visual of our unprecedented population growth and is now available in six languages," said Pam Wasserman, Population Connection's Senior Vice President of Education. "Our hope is that the site will be used by students, teachers and anyone interested in the history and future of the planet."

To learn more about the resources available on the site, please join us for a Twitter Chat on July 8th from 1-2 PM EDT using #WorldPop and for our Reddit Ask Me Anything on July 9th from 1-2:30 PM EDT at For more information, you can visit

About Population Education
Population Education is a program of Population Connection, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to educate the public about global population issues. Since 1975, Population Education has been developing K-12 curricula for a range of disciplines – science, social studies, math and environmental studies. Our staff and network of local teacher trainers facilitate over 500 professional development workshops annually in North America. A full description of all of our materials and workshops, plus downloadable classroom resources, are available at our main program site:


SOURCE Population Connection