The danger of overpopulation
The United Nations again raised its world human population projections within 90 years to reach 10.1 billion human beings on this already ecologically devastated planet.
>> Humans add 10,000 babies net gain per hour, 240,000 per day and 80 million annually. Our species adds another 1.1 billion every 13 years.
All the while, we wreak havoc with all the other creatures on this planet as we encroach upon their habitat. Humans drive the “6th Extinction Session” at an astounding rate of 80 to 100 species suffering extinction every 24 hours. (Source: Norman Myers, Oxford University, UK)
Every environmental misfortune facing humanity in the 21st century stems from human overpopulation. A litany includes species extinction, polluted biosphere, toxified oceans, climate destabilization, melting polar caps, melting glaciers, dead zones, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, oil spills, 80,000 chemicals injected into the land, water and air 24/7, relentless litter, tree-cutting, advancing desertification, 18 million human starvation deaths annually and quality of life swirling the drain. On the political front, wars for water, oil and resources escalate.
Yet, not one world leader speaks about it. Not one U.S. leader stands up. Not one U.S. paper will address it. No one will mention the last taboo of the 21st century: human overpopulation.
Nonetheless, whether humans avoid, evade or ignore the population issue — Mother Nature continues building her defenses against the human mob. The Four Horsemen gallop toward humanity at ever increasing rates of speed.
“A new UN report predicts that the world`s population will surge past 10.1 billion by the end of the century, a forecast that would shatter earlier estimates that the number would stabilize at about 9 billion by mid-century,” said a UN spokesperson. “Much of the population growth will occur in so-called ‘high fertility` countries — in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”
In Africa, where growth already threatens to overwhelm over-stretched food and water resources, the population could more than triple, from about 1 billion today to more than 3.6 billion.
>> World population is expected to pass 7 billion later this year.
Can anyone get a handle on Africa growing from its current 1 billion to a mind-numbing 3.6 billion within 90 years? How about the United States adding another 100 million, then 200 million after that? How about Mexico adding 40 million on its desert plateau with limited water or arable land? What about China adding another 200 million to reach 1.5 billion while India adds 11 million annually to reach 1.6 billion in 40 years?
Having seen the results in my worldwide bicycle travels over the past 40 years, I am dumbfounded that the United States thinks it`s immune to what`s coming. I am further dismayed that we think we will somehow use our “Yankee ingenuity” to solve our demographic and environmental problems without gasoline to run those tractors to plant and harvest those crops on less and less arable land. Don`t get me started on the water scarcity aspect! I am also astounded that America`s “ecological footprint” hits 19.4 acres for each new human addition. That means within 25 years as we add 100 million, we will destroy 1.94 billion acres of wilderness to support that many new human additions.
Does anyone think we will get away with this incredible human population charade? Anyone ever hear of Easter Island? Do we think we will magically find a way out of our predicament? Has anyone ever seen the movie “Soylent Green” with Edward G. Robinson and Charlton Heston? Will that be our food source? Lots of luck with that idea folks!
We do not have to become victims of our own fecundity! Unlike animals that reproduce beyond their carrying capacity and ultimately collapse their numbers through starvation — we can choose to gracefully move toward human population stability. It`s called birth control and family planning.
In Colorado, we reached 5.1 million population last year. We are on course to reach another 5 million to hit 10 million in 40 years. That population load is not sustainable. We need a serious discussion on stabilizing Colorado`s and U.S. population if we expect to survive the 21st century as a viable state and civilization. Urge top leaders at CU to sponsor a worldwide forum.
We must urge our world leaders around the globe to address human overpopulation before we become victims.
Population growth must stop
Published Thu, 07/01/2010 – 07:00 by The Oil Drum: Campfire
This is a second copy of this post, because of the large number of comments on the first thread.
This is a guest post by Gary Peters, a retired geography professor with a long time interest in population issues. I have added some discussion questions at the end. – Gail
Earth’s population is approaching seven billion at the same time that resource limits and environmental degradation are becoming more apparent every day. Rich nations have long assured poor nations that they, too, would one day be rich and that their rates of population growth would decline, but it is no longer clear that this will occur for most of today’s poor nations. Resource scarcities, especially oil, are likely to limit future economic growth; the demographic transition that has accompanied economic growth in the past may not be possible for many nations today. Nearly 220,000 people are added to the planet every day, further compounding most resource and environmental problems. The United States adds another person every eleven seconds. We can no longer wait for increasing wealth to bring down fertility in remaining high fertility nations; we need policies and incentives to stop growth now.
Much has been written about population growth since the first edition of Malthus’s famous essay was published in 1798. However, an underlying truth is usually left unsaid: Population growth on Earth must cease. It makes more sense for humans to bring growth to a halt by adjusting birth rates downward in humane ways rather than waiting for death rates to move upward as the four horsemen reappear. Those who think it inhumane to control human fertility have apparently never experienced conditions in Third World shanty towns, where people struggle just to stay alive for another day.
In 1970 Norman Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on developing new plant strains that formed the basis for the Green Revolution that began in the 1960s. However, in his Nobel acceptance speech Borlaug perceptively commented that “There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort. Fighting alone, they may win temporary skirmishes, but united they can win a decisive and lasting victory to provide food and other amenities of a progressive civilization for the benefit of all mankind.” That was four decades ago. During that time the world’s population increased by more than three billion and the struggle to feed, clothe, house, and educate ever-growing numbers of people continues. “Temporary skirmishes” seem persistent, if not permanent.
Writers sometimes confuse population issues. For example, in his post, The Population Bomb: Has It Been Defused?,”, Fred Pearce wrote that “The population bomb is being defused at a quite remarkable rate.” He conflates rates of growth with actual numbers. It is true that the rate of population growth worldwide has declined since 1970. However, the base population has grown by more than three billion; thus we currently add 80 million or more people to the planet each year. That is hardly “defusing” population growth!
Writers may sometimes have short memories when they write about population growth. Fred Pearce’s post at “Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat,” is one example. George Monbiot’s post on “The Population Myth,” is another. Both authors seem to have discovered that our rate of consumption is an issue, so both play down population numbers and focus on our consumption habits. Neither mentions the work of Paul Ehrlich and his I = PAT equation, where I represents our impact on the Earth, P equals population, A equals affluence (hence consumption), and T stands for technology.
Both population and consumption are parts of the problem–neither can be ignored and both are exacerbating the human impact on Earth. More distressing, however, is that many among us don’t even see that there are problems created by both growing populations and increasing affluence bearing down on a finite planet. To pretend that another 80 million people added to the planet each year is not a problem because they are all being added to the world’s poor nations makes no sense at all. Many of them will end up in rich nations by migrating, legally or illegally, and all will further compound environmental problems, from strains on oil and other fossil fuel resources to deforestation and higher emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. As Kenneth Boulding noted decades ago, “Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
Population, consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions will continue to grow until we either face up to the fact that there are limits on our finite Earth or we are confronted by a catastrophe large enough to turn us from our current course. If Chinese, Indians, and others in the poorer world had consumption levels that rose to current western levels it would be like Earth’s population suddenly increasing to 72 billion, according to Jared Diamond, who then wrote that, “Some optimists claim that we could support a world with nine billion people. But I haven’t met anyone crazy enough to claim that we could support 72 billion. Yet we often promise developing countries that if they will only adopt good policies–for example, institute honest government and a free-market economy–they, too, will be able to enjoy a first-world lifestyle. This promise is impossible, a cruel hoax: we are having difficulty supporting a first-world lifestyle even now for only one billion people.”
This promise is often made by people who believe that that alone will stop population growth via the demographic transition, conveniently forgetting about such exceptions as China. As Tom Athanasiou argued, in Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor, “In a world torn between affluence and poverty, the crackpot realists tell the poor, who must live from day to day, that all will be well in the long run. Amidst deepening ecological crisis, they rush to embrace small, cosmetic adaptations.”
The widespread acceptance and political influence of modern neoclassical economics is a central part of our global problem. In one widely used economics textbook, Principles of Economics, Greg Mankiw wrote that “A large population means more workers to produce goods and services. At the same time, it means more people to consume those goods and services.” Speaking for many neoclassical economists, Tim Harford concluded, in The Logic of Life, that “The more of us there are in the world, living our logical lives, the better our chances of seeing out the next million years.” The absurdity of Harford’s statement must be recognized and challenged.
Economists do not deserve all the blame. As Thomas Berry noted, in The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, “Western civilization, dominated by a cultural arrogance, could not accept the fact that the human, as every species, is bound by limits in relation to the other members of the Earth community.” On his Archdruid blog, John Greer added his observation that “Our culture’s mythology of progress envisions the goal of civilization as a utopian state in which poverty, illness, death, and every other aspect of the human predicament has been converted into problems and solved by technology.” We don’t want to hear about limits.
Nowhere is acceptance of the twin towers of economic growth and increased consumption more apparent than in the United States, where “growing the economy” is still paramount, despite the leftovers of a financial meltdown created by banking and shadow banking systems run amok and a Gulf fouled by gushing oil. As Andrew Bacevich noted, in The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, “For the majority of contemporary Americans, the essence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness centers on a relentless personal quest to acquire, to consume, to indulge, and to shed whatever constraints might interfere with those endeavors.” Yet evidence that modern economics has let most people down is abundant.
More than two decades ago Edward Abbey wrote, in One Life at a Time, Please, that “[W]e can see that the religion of endless growth–like any religion based on blind faith rather than reason–is a kind of mania, a form of lunacy, indeed a disease,” adding that “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” He expressed his concern about modern economics as follows: “Economics, no matter how econometric it pretends to be, resembles meteorology more than mathematics. A cloudy science of swirling vapors, signifying nothing.” Similarly, Nassim Taleb wrote, in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, that “Economics is the most insular of fields; it is the one that quotes least from outside itself!” Gus Speth argued, in The Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, that “In the end, what has to be modified is the open-ended commitment to aggregate economic growth–growth that is consuming environmental and social capital, both in short supply.” Barbara Ehrenreich wrote, in This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation, that “The economists’ odd fixation on growth as a measure of economic well-being puts them in a parallel universe of their own. . .the mantra of growth has deceived us for far too long.” Whether in local areas, the United States, or the world, no problem that I can think of will be more easily solved with additional millions of people.
Future oil production will come at an increasing cost, if it comes at all. As Bill McKibbin noted, in Deep Economy: The Wealth of Comunities and the Durable Future, “Cheap and abundant fossil fuel [mainly oil] has shaped the farming system we’ve come to think of as normal; it’s the main reason you can go to the store and get anything you want at any time and for not much money.” More expensive oil will eat into world food production, especially if we continue to use foodstuffs to help fill gas tanks.
Scientists need to encourage a deeper and more realistic interest in population growth on a finite planet and its effect on many of the major issues of our time. We ignore the implications of further population growth at our peril. In 1971 Wilbur Zelinsky, in an article entitled “Beyond the Exponentials; The Role of Geography in the Great Transition,” fretted that “The problem that shakes our confidence in the perpetuation and enrichment of civilized human existence or even our biological survival is that of growth: the rate, volume, and kinds of growth, and whether they can be controlled in intelligent, purposeful fashion.”
Continued population growth is unsustainable, as is continued growth in the production of oil and other fossil fuels. As Lester Brown argued, in PLAN B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, “If we cannot stabilize population and if we cannot stabilize climate, there is not an ecosystem on earth we can save.” As Alan Weisman wrote, in The World Without Us, “The intelligent solution [to the problem of population growth] would require the courage and the wisdom to put our knowledge to the test. It would henceforth limit every human female on Earth capable of bearing children to one.” Started now, such a policy would reduce Earth’s population down to around 1.6 billion by 2100, about the same as the world population in 1900. Had we kept Earth’s population at that level we would not be having this conversation.
World Population, Agriculture, and Malnutrition
Published Sat, 01/01/2005 – 08:00 by WorldWatch / Constructive Creativity
Entering the new millennium, stark contrasts are apparent between the availability of natural resources and the demands of billions of humans who require them for their survival. According to the Population Reference Bureau, each day almost a quarter-million people are added to the roughly 6.4 billion who already exist. Yet the stocks of natural resources that support human life-food, fresh water, quality soil, energy, and biodiversity-are being polluted, degraded, and depleted.
Global population has doubled during the last 45 years. If the present growth rate of 1.3 percent per year persists, the population will double again within a mere 50 years. Growth rates vary from one country or region to another. For example, China’s present population of 1.4 billion, despite the governmental policy of permitting only one child per couple, is still growing at an annual rate of 0.6 percent. Although China recognizes its serious overpopulation problem and recently passed legislation strengthening the policy, its young age structure means that the number of Chinese will continue to increase for another 50 years. India, with nearly 1.1 billion people (living on approximately one-third the land of either the United States or China), has a current population growth rate of 1.7 percent per year. This translates to a doubling time of 41 years. Taken together, the populations of China and India constitute more than one-third of the total world population. In Africa, despite the AIDS epidemic, the populations of most countries also are expanding. The populations of Chad and Ethiopia, for example, are projected to double in 21 and 23 years, respectively.
But the problem is hardly confined to the developing world. The U.S. population-among the most heavily consuming in the world-is growing rapidly. Now standing at nearly 300 million, it has doubled during the past 60 years. The U.S. Bureau of the Census reported in 2003 that sustaining the current growth rate of about 1.1 percent per year will double the population to 600 million in less than 70 years.
Current United Nations estimates of population stabilization at about 9 billion people by 2050 are questionable, mainly because of the very young age structure of the current world population and the momentum it fosters. A large share of the population is concentrated within the 15-to-40 range, where reproductive rates are high. Even if all the people in the world adopted a policy of only two children per couple, it would take approximately 70 years before the world population would finally stabilize at about 12 billion, twice the current level.
Many human beings already suffer from hunger and/or malnourishment. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reports that the quantity of food produced per capita has been declining since 1984, based on available cereal grains, which make up about 80 percent of the world’s food supply. Although grain yields per hectare in both developed and developing countries are still increasing, the rate of increase is slowing. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. grain yields increased at about 3 percent per year between 1950 and 1980, but since then the annual rate of increase for corn and other major other grains has been only about 1 percent. Yet the World Health Organization estimates that more than 3 billion people are malnourished (deficient in intake of calories, protein, iron, iodine, and/or vitamins A, B, C, and D). This is the largest number and proportion of malnourished people ever reported.
At the same time, cropland resources are under severe strain. FAO Food Balance Sheets show that more than 99.7 percent of human food (calories) comes from the terrestrial environment, while less than 0.3 percent comes from the oceans and other aquatic ecosystems. Of the total of 13 billion hectares of land area on Earth, cropland accounts for 11 percent, pastureland 27 per cent, forested land 32 percent, and urban lands 9 per cent. Most of the remaining 21 percent is unsuitable for crops, pasture, and/or forests because the soil is too infertile or shallow to support plant growth, or the climate and region are too cold, dry, steep, stony, or wet.
In 1960, when the world population numbered only 3 billion, approximately 0.5 hectare of cropland per capita was available, the minimum area considered essential for the production of a diverse, healthy, nutritious diet of plant and animal products like that enjoyed widely in the United States and Europe. But as the human population continues to increase and expand its economic activity and related artifacts, including transport systems and urban structures, vital cropland is being covered and lost from production.
Globally, available per-capita cropland is now about 0.23 hectare. In the United States, there is already about 0.4 hectare (1 acre) of land per person tied up in urban buildings and highways and the available cropland per capita has shrunk over the last 30 years or so to 0.5 hectare. In China, per-capita cropland has declined to 0.08 hectare from 0.11 hectare 25 years ago, due to continued population growth as well as extreme soil erosion and degradation. This relatively small amount of cropland provides the Chinese people a primarily vegetarian diet.
The United States produces 1,481 kilograms per year of agricultural products for each American, while the Chinese food supply averages only 785 kilograms per year per capita (mostly grains in both cases). Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has suggested that by all available measurements the Chinese have reached or exceeded the limits of their agricultural system. The Chinese reliance on large inputs of fossil fuel-based fertilizers to compensate for shortages of arable land and severely eroded soils, combined with their limited fresh water supply, suggests severe problems looming ahead. Even now, China imports large amounts of grain from the United States (which also relies heavily on fossil inputs for agriculture) and other nations, and is expected to increase imports of grains in the near future.
The decline of per-capita cropland is aggravated by the degradation of soils. Throughout the world, current erosion rates are higher than ever. According to a study for the International Food Policy Research Institute, each year an estimated 10 million hectares of cropland worldwide are abandoned due to soil erosion and diminished production caused by erosion. Another 10 million hectares are critically damaged each year by salinization, in large part as a result of irrigation and/or improper drainage methods. This loss amounts to more than 1.3 percent of total cropland annually. Most of the additional cropland needed to replace yearly losses comes from the world’s forest areas. The urgent need to increase crop production accounts for more than 60 percent of the massive deforestation now occurring worldwide.
Erosion losses are critical because topsoil renewal is extremely slow. It takes about 500 years for 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) of topsoil to reform under agricultural conditions. Soil erosion rates on cropland range from about 10 metric tons per hectare per year (t/ha/yr) in the United States to 40 t/ha/yr in China. During the past 30 years, the rate of soil loss throughout Africa has increased 20-fold. A 1996 study in India found that as much as 5,600 t/ha/yr of soil were lost under some arid and windy conditions. Some crops can be grown under artificial conditions using hydroponic techniques, but the cost (in energy and dollars) is approximately 10 times that of conventional agriculture. Such systems are neither affordable nor sustainable for the future.
The availability of adequate supplies of fresh water for human direct use and agriculture is already critical in many regions, especially the Middle East and parts of North Africa where low rainfall is endemic. Surface waters, for instance, are often poorly managed, resulting in water shortages and pollution, both of which threaten humans and aquatic biota. Groundwater- rainfall lying in underground aquifers-is another vital source of water for agriculture; it too is often used profligately. Aquifers recharge very slowly, usually at rates of 0.1 to 0.3 percent per year, according to the UN Environment Programme. At these rates, groundwater resources must be carefully managed to prevent overuse and depletion, but this wisdom is often ignored. For example, in Tamil Nadu, India, groundwater levels dropped 25 to 30 meters during the 1970s because of excessive pumping for irrigation. In Beijing, China, the groundwater level is falling at a rate of about 1 meter per year, while in Tianjin, China, it is dropping 4.4 meters per year. In the United States, groundwater overdraft is high, averaging 25 percent greater than replacement rates. The capacity of the Ogallala aquifer, which underlies parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas, has decreased by 33 percent since about 1950. Withdrawal from the Ogallala is three times faster than its recharge rate. Aquifers in some parts of Arizona are being overpumped more than 10 times faster than the recharge rate.
Irrigation enables crop production in arid regions, provided there is an adequate source of fresh water and enough energy (generally fossil in origin) to pump and move the water. About 70 percent of the water removed from all sources worldwide is used solely for irrigation. Of this amount, about two-thirds is consumed by growing plants and is non-recoverable, i.e, lost to the hydrologic cycle via evapotranspiration. Irrigation is less water-efficient than rainfed watering of crops, and the limitations of surface and ground water resources for irrigation, its high economic costs, and the large energy inputs required will tend to limit future agricultural irrigation, especially in devel oping nations that cannot afford such expenditures.
Pollution is a major threat to maintaining ample fresh water resources. Although considerable water pollution has been documented in developed nations like the United States, the problem is of greatest concern in countries where water regulations are not rigorously enforced or do not exist. This is common in most developing countries, which (according to the World Health Organization) discharge 95 percent of untreated urban sewage directly into surface waters. For instance, of India’s 3,119 towns and cities, only 209 have even partial sewage treatment facilities, and a mere eight possess full facilities. Downstream, the polluted water is used for drinking, bathing, and washing.
Humans have relied on various sources of power for centuries, beginning of course with solar energy-fundamental to nearly all natural ecosystems-and their own muscle power. Other sources have included animals, wind, tides, water, wood, coal, gas, oil, and nuclear energy. Since about 1700, increasingly abundant fossil fuel energy supplies have made it possible to augment agricultural production to feed an increasing number of humans, as well as improve the general quality of human life in many ways.
Since the fossil era began, the rate of energy use from all sources has grown even faster than world population. From 1970 to 1995, energy use increased at a rate of 2.5 percent per year (doubling every 30 years), compared with worldwide population growth of 1.7 percent per year (doubling about every 40 years). During the next 20 years, energy use is projected to increase by 4.5 per cent per year (doubling every 16 years) and population by 1.3 percent per year (doubling every 54 years).
Although about half of all the solar energy captured by worldwide photosynthesis is used by humans, this amount is still inadequate to meet all human needs for food and other purposes. To make up for this shortfall, the world consumes a lot of fossil energy: about 345 quadrillion British thermal units (3.64 x 10 to the 20th joules) of it in 2001, with the United States alone accounting for 83 quadrillion Btu of fossil energy consumption that year. (Each year, in fact, the U.S. population uses twice as much fossil energy as all the solar energy captured by harvested U.S. crops, forest products, and other vegetation.) A great deal of this supplemental energy goes into agriculture. In China, for instance, while most fossil energy is used by industry, about one-quarter is used for agriculture and the food production system. Like some other developing nations with high rates of population growth, China is increasing fossil fuel use to augment agricultural production of food and fiber. Since 1955 Chinese agriculture has boosted energy use 100-fold for fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.
In general, however, in what may be a harbinger of an approaching crunch, the International Fertilizer Organization reports that fertilizer production has declined by more than 17 percent since 1989, especially in the developing countries, because of fossil fuel shortages and resulting high prices. In fact, the projected global availability of fossil energy resources for fertilizers, not to mention all other purposes is discouraging.
British Petroleum and other authorities have estimated that the world supply of oil would last approximately 50 years at current production rates.. Perhaps somewhat optimistically, the global natural gas supply is considered adequate for about 50 years and coal supplies for at least 100 years. However, demand is not static, but rising dramatically. Moreover, even adequate production in one place may not translate into adequate supply elsewhere; natural gas supplies are already in short supply in the United States and U.S. reserves may be depleted in as little as 20 years, yet transporting natural gas in liquid form to the United States from places where it is abundant poses serious technical and financial challenges.
An even more sobering prospect is that of the imminent peak in production of oil and natural gas. The experience of the United States may portend the fate of global oil and gas production. Walter Youngquist, formerly an oil geologist with Exxon, reports that current oil and gas exploration drilling data have not borne out some of the earlier optimistic estimates of these resources yet to be found in the United States. U.S. oil production peaked around 1970 and has been declining ever since. Youngquist estimates that about 90 per cent of U.S. oil resources already have been mined. A key consequence is that U.S.
net imports of oil rose to about 53 percent of total consumption in 2002 and are still going up, placing the economy at risk from fluctuating oil prices and difficult political situations.
This scenario is likely to repeat globally. Predictions for the peak year of global oil production, for instance, range from 2005 to 2035, but in our view the most plausible of these estimates are those in the 2005-2010 range. Whenever the peak occurs, the impacts of rising energy prices on the economies of most nations will be profound. Modern agriculture, no less than other sectors of the economy, depends on large quantities of oil and natural gas (used in nitrogen fertilizer production) and higher energy prices are already having an impact on agricultural production.
These facts speak for themselves. They starkly signal a rapidly approaching time of grave challenge for the agricultural system. During the 20th century, increased food production-supporting a period of unprecedented growth in the world population-depended on the availability of cheap fossil energy, primarily oil and natural gas. The consequent expansion of human needs and activities has been depleting the land, water, and biological resources that are essential for sustainable agricultural production. Already, more than 3 billion people in the world are malnourished, yet per-capita production of cereal grains, basic world foods, has continued to decline for the past 20 years, despite all the new biotechnologies.
As the world population continues to expand, all vital natural resources will have to be divided among increasing numbers of people and per-capita availability will decline to low levels. When this occurs, we believe that it will become quite difficult to maintain prosperity, a quality life, and even personal freedoms for those who already enjoy them, much less secure those benefits for the billions currently living without. Meeting this challenge will test humanity’s resourcefulness and goodwill to the utmost.
David Pimentel is a professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Anne Wilson is a research assistant at Cornell
World’s population up
As the world’s population grows, Russia’s population will be declining, the experts forecast. The world’s population in 2009 made 6.8 billion, and by 2025 it will make up to 8.1 billion, and a quarter of a century later – up to 9.4 billion.
Africa’s population will be growing most quickly. By 2050, it will double to reach 2.1 billion. Asia’s population makes 4.2 billion now, and may add 1.3 billion by 2050.
The growth will depend mostly on demographic situations in two countries – India /1.2 billion now, 1.7 billion by 2050/ and China /1.3 billion and 1.4 billion respectively/.
Europe will be “most likely the first region ever where the population will decline long-term due to low birth level, first of all in Eastern Europe and Russia,” the research said. Presently, there are 738 Europeans, and by 2050 there may remain only 702 million.
As for the United States of America, the present population makes 310 million. By 2050, it may grow to 399 million, or 423 million, or even 458 million, which will depend on the immigration processes.
The experts believe that by 2050 the USA will be the only ‘first world’ country among the world’s top ten leaders in population.
Present-day leaders are: China, India, the USA, Indonesia /235 million/, Brazil /193 million/, Pakistan /185 million/, Bangladesh /164 million/, Nigeria /158 million/, Russia and Japan /127 million/. American experts forecast that by 2050 the same countries will keep first eight positions, though the order may change, while the two last positions will be taken by Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.