photo: Rob DiCaterino via flickr
Though the United Nations thinks that the most likely scenario for human population growth will mean that the planet will have to accommodate 9.2 billion people in 2050 (which is a very slight reduction from previous estimates) the low end of their projections just got a bit higher: Because of increase in birthrate in some developed countries, the "low variant" scenario are now 117 million people more than previously thought. That means that at minimum we could be faced with 8 billion people by mid-century:At the high end however, the estimate really goes through the roof: 10.5 billion people! That's an entire 295 million people more; or nearly an entire other United States. So why the shifts?
The revision in the low variant's total fertility rate - the average number of children per woman - was due to a rise in births in Europe and the United States following years of an "artificially depressed" fertility rate, according to demographics expert John Bongaarts. This lower rate was a consequence of large proportions of women delaying pregnancy until later in their lives.
"During the ‘90s, while the average age at childbearing was rising, women became more educated, wanted a job," said Bongaarts, vice president of the Population Council. "That artificial depression is now being removed as the average age of childbearing stops rising."
Better Family Planning Best Way to Reduce Population Growth
The best way to combat rising growth rates, at least in the developing world? In an interview with TreeHugger, John Feeney of Global Population Speak Out pointed out that making family planning resources available to women, educating them through direct outreach efforts can have a great effect in lowering birth rates. Feeney cited efforts in Iran and Thailand which reduced average birth rates per woman from 6-7 to 2-3 in a short period of time, and continued to decline.
via: Worldwatch Institute
The Latest Bold Initiative to Halt Population Growth: Daytime Soap Operas
Population Growth, Resource Over-Consumption as Center of 'Looming Catastrophe'
When Population Growth and Resource Availability Collide