Something incredible happened in the 17th century. Just by looking at the chart on the left you can see that population growth started taking off. By 1800, we reached 1B people, and kept growing ever since. Neither wars, nor epidemics could arrest the trend.
The right chart shows projected numbers for the next 40 years. Seems like India is going to take the lead on population growth among economically developed countries.
Source: Science 29 July 2011:Vol. 333 no. 6042 pp. 540-543. DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.540
Another article talks about most prevalent chronic diseases (NCD) today and projections for the future. Based on those pictures, I can guess that somehow in the 17-18th centuries humans managed to develop resistance to infections diseases, either through natural and/or social immunity. The latter we call science and medicine, but it also should include business methods for running large scale public health services and hospitals.
Source: Science 29 July 2011: Vol. 333 no. 6042 pp. 558-559. DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.558
tags: medicine, history, technology, business, distribution, control