7 Billion and Climbing: The Population Challenge

December 5, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Bob Walker for this Huffington Post OpEd.  See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/7-billion-and-climbing-th_b_1030563.html

7 Billion and Climbing: The Population Challenge

Robert Walker

Executive Vice President, Population Institute

Posted: 10/26/11 12:00 PM ET

World population, according to the United Nations, will reach 7 billion on October 31, 2011, and judging by the coverage that the milestone has received in the print media, the challenge once posed by population growth has been solved. A writer for the Chicago Sun-Times even went so far as to say, “Hooray! Pop the Champagne.”

An article in the latest issue of The Economist (“A Tale of Three Islands: The world’s population will reach 7 billion at the end of October. Don’t panic.”) indicates that the world’s decline in fertility has been “staggering,” and that, “If you look at the overall size of the world’s population, then, the picture is one of falling fertility, decelerating growth and a gradual return to the flat population level of the 18th century.”

There it is: problem solved. But before we uncork the champagne, it’s helpful to take a quicker look at the latest population projections, which tell a somewhat different story. The UN’s latest “medium variant” projection, released earlier this year, indicates that world population will reach the 8 billion mark in just 13 years, rise to 9.3 billion by mid-century, cross the 10 billion mark in 2082 and keep growing.

Just a few years ago, demographers were projecting that world population would begin declining around mid-century. In August of 1999, Max Singer, the founder of the Hudson Institute, warned in The Atlantic that, “Fifty years from now, the world’s population will be declining, with no end in sight.”

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/7-billion-and-climbing-th_b_1030563.html

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