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The world's population is going to peak by 2050 and then decrease, right? That's been the conventional wisdom for some time, but a new UN report out today forecasts that the world's population will speed toward 10.1 billion people by 2100. Perhaps most staggering, Africa will go from today's 1 billion to 3.6 billion people. From the New York Times:
The director of the United Nations population division, Hania Zlotnik, said the world's fastest-growing countries, and the wealthy Western nations that help to finance their development, face a choice about whether to renew their emphasis on programs that encourage family planning. Though they were a major focus of development policy in the 1970s and 1980s, such programs have stagnated in many parts of the world, partly because they got caught up in ideological battles over abortion, sex education and the role of women in society.
Over the past decade, foreign aid to pay for contraceptive commodities -- $238 million in 2009 -- has barely budged, according to United Nations estimates. The United States has long been the biggest donor for such programs, but the budget compromise in Congress last month reduced support for such efforts.
Other interesting findings in the report include:
--AIDS, once thought to be a serious threat to population growth, has proven not to be.
--access to family planning services remains inadequate in much of the world and even access doesn't guarantee those services will be used. Women need freedom as well as access to maximize the benefits of family planning services.
--China may actually decrease in population.
--the US could be at about 475 million by 2100.