Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Seven Billion Or Bust: Is the Human Population out of control? Or is the way we live what's holding us back?

It's a great time to be alive. We can say without fear of contradiction that Homo sapiens has been an unqualified success. Make no mistake about it, the future looks bright. 2011 promises to be another bumper year for humanity, for this is the year our astonishingly fertile species will reach 7 billion individuals (Science Daily, July 28).

Global population is expected to hit 7 billion later this year, up from 6 billion in 1999. Between now and 2050, an estimated 2.3 billion more people will be added — nearly as many as inhabited the planet as recently as 1950. New estimates from the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations also project that the population will reach 10.1 billion in 2100.

These sizable increases represent an unprecedented global demographic upheaval, according to David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health, in a review article published July 29, 2011 in Science.

Over the next forty years, nearly all (97%) of the 2.3 billion projected increase will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half (49%) in Africa. By contrast, the populations of more developed countries will remain flat, but will age, with fewer working-age adults to support retirees living on social pensions...

The world's population has grown slowly for most of human history. It took until 1800 for the population to hit 1 billion. However, in the past half-century, population jumped from 3 to 7 billion. In 2011, approximately 135 million people will be born and 57 million will die, a net increase of 78 million people [graph above, source].

Considerable uncertainty about these projections remains, Bloom writes. Depending on whether the number of births per woman continues to decline, the ranges for 2050 vary from 8.1 to 10.6 billion, and the 2100 projections vary from 6.2 to 15.8 billion. (more)