The previous post was about the U.S. population hitting an estimated 300,000,000 this week. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I read The Population Bomb by Paul Erlich back in the 1970s. Among its predictions:
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…
The book was filled with apocalyptic forecasts, but almost none of Erlich’s predictions came to pass.
There are still plenty of “the sky is falling” prognosticators out there. But what does the future really hold, in terms of population growth? Demographers (those who study human population) observe that birth rates are falling, and that we likely will not have the nightmare scenarios of The Population Bomb. Instead, global population will likely hit a peak sometime in the mid to late 21st century, and then start declining. This will happen given current population trends; nothing radical needs to be done. As societies become more urbanized, and as people have more access to clean water, adequate nutrition, and health care, their birth rates almost always decline.
This graphic shows projected population growth through the 21st century:
The medium projection is for population to peak at a little over nine billion in the latter half of the 21st century. Factors that will affect this include what actually happens to birth rates and death rates; as well as economic growth, which tends to reduce population growth.
Where will that population growth be? Much of it will be in Africa, while other parts of the world will see declining population:
Projected Population Change, 2005 to 2050
|Region||2005 Population (millions)||2050 Population Estimate (millions)||% Change|
|South-Central Asia (incl India)||1611||2495||+55%|
|Eastern Asia (incl. China)||1524||1587||+4%|
Data from Human Population Grows Up, by Joel E. Cohen, Scientific American, September 2005, pp. 48-55
Grace and Peace