Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations

Global Population Growth

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World population

The Impact of Population Growth

By John J. Hidore

Estimates of Early Population Growth

October 19, 2013—Global population is growing faster than at any time in history. We are now adding about 227,000 people per day to the planet. This adds 85,000,000 people to the planet each year. That annual increase is the same as adding the population of the United States to the planet every four years. What is astonishing in the growth data is how fast the rate of growth has been increasing. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the first billion to be reached in about 1800. The time it has taken for adding each billion has dropped rapidly. The last billion was added in just 12 years from 1999 to 2011. At the beginning of 2013 global population growth stood at a little over seven billion. The key element in driving population growth is changing technology which has increased the global food supply.

Some estimates of early human population size:
125,000                1 million years ago
1-5 million            11,000 B.C
50 million                3,000 B.C
0.5 billion                1,500 A.D.

Adding the billions:
1 billion    1800    200,000 to a million years
2 billion     1930   130 years
3 billion     1960     30 years
4 billion     1974     14 years
5 billion     1987     13 years
6 billion     1999      12 years
7 Billion     2011      12 years
The human population reached its highest annual growth rate of about 2 percent per year, in the early 1970’s. The growth rate in 2012 was around 1.2 %. While the rate has dropped the absolute number of humans added to the planet each year continues to be greater than in the past.

Population Growth in Asia

Today the fastest-growing countries are the developing countries. Many of the nations with the highest growth rates are in Africa and southwest Asia. China has the largest population of any country. However, India, which has a smaller population than China but has a higher growth rate, is adding 1/3 more people each year than is China. The UN projects India to surpass China as the most populous country in the world about 2028. At that time both countries will have a population of about 1.45 billion. China’s population will begin to stabilize in 2028 and India will continue to grow for some time. Most of the growth will be in developing countries, with more than half in Africa. The population in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double from the 2010 population of 0.86 to 1.96 billion in 2050.

Impact Of Population Growth

The key element in the future relationship between the human species and the global environment is the continued rapid growth of the human population. In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich published the book The Population Bomb. At the time he wrote the book the human population was 3.5 billion. It has more than doubled since.
All data indications are that the population will continue to grow. How much it will grow can only be estimated and the estimates from different organizations vary. This year, 2013, the United Nations has forecasted a global population growth of 8.1 billion by 2025 and 9.6 billion for 2050.
The next billion people added to the earth will want and expect food, clothing, shelter, and some means of employment. How are these needs to be met? There are already a billion people with some degree of malnutrition. Most of the population supports themselves from agriculture. All good, and even marginal, land is already occupied, and much productive land is being removed from agriculture due to erosion and general depletion. How are these agriculturalists going to find employment? These are critical issues!
The momentum for an increasing population seems to be difficult to change. Global business thrives on population growth. It seems the options are limited. Either the human species understands what is taking place and mandates a change, or these trends will continue until some unpredictable catastrophe eliminates a substantial portion of the people now living!

Recent reports:
United Nations. 2013. World Population Prospects


Author: Planet Earth Weekly

My goal, as a responsible adult, is to leave a planet that people, plants, and animals can continue to occupy comfortably. I am an educator by profession. While educating myself on Climate Change and Renewable Resources, I hope to share my knowledge and images with those that share my concern. Dr. John J. Hidore is a retired professor from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and I am proud to call him my Uncle. His work has taken him to regions across the globe—including the Middle East, where he conducted research for a year in the Sudan. He has written many books, such as Climatology: An Atmospheric Science and Global Environmental Change.----Linn Smith

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